Call to arms against 'super council'

THERE has been a call to arms by the leader of the district council for residents to back her view that moves to replace Devon s council s with a single super council should be stopped.

THERE has been a call to arms by the leader of the district council for residents to back her view that moves to replace Devon's council's with a single 'super council' should be stopped.

Last month the Boundary Committee advised the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government John Denham said that Devon's 750,000 residents should be governed by a single authority.

It follows two public consultations run by the Boundary Committee - EDDC say 60 per cent of those who responded said they were against any changes, while the committee say the opposite.

The final date for consultation is Tuesday January 19 and if the Government chooses to ratify the proposals, a new unitary could be in place by April 1, 2011.

Alternatively Mr Denham could implement the original Exeter City Council unitary proposal, with or without modification to include Exmouth, or take no action at all.

EDDC leader Sara Randall Johnson said: "This is the last opportunity to influence the decision and we, as a council, say that the unitary options...would be a disaster, both financially and democratically.

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"Such a reorganisation will be a distraction and waste millions of pounds - vital public money that's needed to help our residents and businesses during the worst recession in living memory.

"A Devon unitary will have the worst level of democratic representation in the country, with a proposed 100 elected councillors serving almost 3/4 million people.

"This is a reorganisation that the vast majority of people haven't asked for and don't want."

She said councils across the county were already sharing resources: "EDDC has proved it works well with the county and with neighbouring councils...we are also taking on board the 'shared services' agenda -working with Exeter City Council through an interim shared director.

"This year, we are also investigating a shared services arrangement with neighbouring South Somerset District Council. All this progress could now be at risk through a decision of one minister".

A spokesman for the Boundary Committee said: "The Committee has run a public consultation and its advice was informed by the evidence received during consultation.

"Our role in the process has now concluded subject to any decision taken by the Government.

"...there has been no decision on unitary government in Devon; any suggestion that a new council will have 100 members is mere conjecture."

To make representations to the Secretary of State, you can email or write to the Unitary Structures Team, Zone 3/J1, Eland House, Bressenden Place, London SW1E 5DU.