FRIDAY, July 18 - Super council home fear

PUBLISHED: 15:34 18 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:19 10 June 2010

THE 'cohesion' of homeless families in Exmouth could be affected if a Devon-wide super council is imposed. That's the concern of Exmouth councillor Jill Elson, East Devon's communities portfolio holder, following proposals by the Boundary Commission last

THE 'cohesion' of homeless families in Exmouth could be affected if a Devon-wide super council is imposed.That's the concern of Exmouth councillor Jill Elson, East Devon's communities portfolio holder, following proposals by the Boundary Commission last week.The commission suggests a single Devon-wide authority with Torbay and Plymouth remaining the same - or the same system but with a fourth authority administering Exmouth and Exeter.But Cllr Elson said abolishing the nine district councils, including Exeter, could mean emergency housing is managed from a single Devon pot -housing is currently the responsibility of each authority.Currently 4,416 people in East Devon are waiting either to be housed, moved from temporary accommodation or waiting for a more suitable property.But a single Devon-wide housing system could see a single register of more than 22,000 families and she said: "A person who is on the Gold Band (high priority) in Barnstaple can apply for a property in Exmouth they may have higher needs than a person in Exmouth."Similarly a person from anywhere in Devon can apply for a house in any part of East Devon."But if this is not possible, due to the shortage of property, that household may be housed anywhere in Devon. "This could cause serious problems for some families -a couple of people are now unemployed because they were moved to Honiton where there is very little transport. "If this happened on a Devon-wide scale people could be separated from their family and support networks, grandparents, brothers, sisters or there family doctors - It could affect family cohesion." She also raised concerns about planning under a single authority "As it is Exmouth Town council feel they should have a final say on planning decisions in Sidmouth, not district councillors."A single authority would mean a single planning authority. Local accountability could be affected. "Local planning boards could be set up but what size they would be and what areas they would cover we have no way of knowing."The Boundary Commission proposal is similar to County Council proposals - a spokesman said: "Under the Boundary Committee Proposals the new Devon unitary authority, as the housing authority, will develop and operate housing policy in line with legislation; taking into account the need for people where possible to remain in their existing local communities, or to move to another locality should their requirements change or should they choose. "The priority of the new council will be to ensure the best use of existing housing stock to ensure that local people have local choice.

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