Council U-turn

THE Conservatives at the County Council are set for a U-turn on their support to scrap eight district authorities - and replace them with a Devon super-council .

THE Conservatives at the County Council are set for a U-turn on their support to scrap eight district authorities - and replace them with a Devon 'super-council'.

The plans are part of the Government's boundary review and propose either three unitary authorities, Plymouth, Torbay and one to cover the rest of Devon - or the same set up with a fourth authority centred around Exeter and Exmouth.

Last year, the three authority solution was endorsed by the county leader, the Lib Dem's Brian Greenslade, and was backed by shadow Conservative leader John Hart - now the council's leader elect. They said it would mean more power and cash devolved to Devon's 28 coastal and market towns.

And, they added, a single unitary authority would be capable of managing big issues like social care and education and reduce the cost by slimming down collective administration and eradicating unnecessary bureaucracy caused by duplication of functions and services.

A network of boards would work with community forums, health, the police, local business, and the voluntary sector and town and parish councils to determine local needs.

Cllr John Hart said, in April 2008: "The people we serve are not so concerned about who provides their service, but they do want services that are delivered locally and efficiently.

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"With economies of scale, this new type of organisation must produce savings which can then be reinvested into services for people."

But Conservative-run East Devon District Council have long opposed the plans and the county elections at the beginning of June saw members of that Conservative Authority elected as County Councillors in six of East Devon's 11 county divisions.

And three of those occupy senior positions at East Devon who have railed against the proposals, Stuart Hughes, communities, Paul Diviani, chairman of the development control committee, Sara Randall Johnson, East Devon Leader, and Andrew Moulding, resources.

Cllr Hart, Leader Elect of the County Council following the elections earlier this month, said: "I have always worked with a two-tier system of local government.

"This Government is trying to introduce Unitary Councils all over England. If they force it upon Devon then we will have to make it work. However, with the total chaos of the current Labour administration, I wonder if they can survive long enough to implement any proposals yet to be announced.

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