Exeter home rule bid boosted

AN attempt to derail Exeter s bid for home rule, making Exmouth the largest community run by county hall, spectacularly hit the buffers last week.

AN attempt to derail Exeter's bid for home rule, making Exmouth the largest community run by county hall, spectacularly hit the buffers last week.

A Tory party parliamentary motion to stop the move towards unitary status was defeated in the House of Commons.

Exeter is now back on track to become a unitary authority delivering all council services within the city from April 2011.

However, the bid still has to be passed by both houses of Parliament later this month.

Cllr Pete Edwards, chairman of Exeter City Council's Local Government Review Committee, said the defeat in the Commons was positive news and confirmed the popularity of the Exeter's bid to go it alone.

"The elected House of Commons has spoken with a large majority backing Exeter's bid to become Unitary Council. When the unelected House of Lords debate this issue later in March they had better remember that the will of the people through their MPs has spoken, and to go against their will would be unprecedented."

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There was support for Exeter's bid during the debate. Speaking in the House of Commons, Dr Phyllis Starkey, MP for Milton Keynes, roundly welcomed unitary authorities in Exeter and Norwich.

She said: "I absolutely understand why councillors in Exeter and the majority of councillors in Norwich want unitary status. I believe that those cities would benefit enormously from that focus if they were to get unitary status, and I do not think that the surrounding counties would be impoverished at all. Buckinghamshire is much happier without Milton Keynes, just as we are happier not to be part of it, and I think that the same would be the case in Exeter, Devon, Norwich and Norfolk."

All four political parties on the City Council back Exeter's bid to become a unitary authority and believe it will provide quality services, be able to better respond to the needs of local people and drive the city forward economically.

ENDS

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