Residents 'confused' with twin council options

PUBLISHED: 17:26 04 August 2008 | UPDATED: 09:26 10 June 2010

EAST DEVON District Council say that the Boundary Committee's approach to local Government reform is confusing residents .

EAST DEVON District Council say that the Boundary Committee's approach to local Government reform is 'confusing residents'.

EDDC strongly opposes both the draft proposal of the Boundary Committee for a single unitary council for Devon and the alternative 'idea' of a possible unitary council for Exeter and Exmouth with a residual unitary council for the remainder of Devon. Neither proposal is considered to be sustainable, effective or wanted.

That's the message issued by EDDC following a meeting of the full council, when the Boundary Committee's draft proposals were discussed and dismissed as unwanted and confusing for residents.

The Boundary Committee is currently holding a public consultation exercise into its proposals and is inviting comments from residents across Devon either by post or to its website. The closing date for comments is 26 September.

Councillor Sara Randall Johnson, Leader of EDDC, said: "We believe that the Boundary Committee, acting at the Government's behest, is seeking a solution to a problem that does not exist. There is no evidence that the current system of local government in Devon is broken. It does not need 'fixing' and is fully capable of delivering to any agenda that is required of it".

EDDC objects to the process, assumptions and conclusions underlying the draft proposal. The Council believes that:

* The Boundary Committee has stepped outside its statutory remit in not restricting itself to a single 'draft recommendation'. In doing so, it is causing confusion and uncertainty in the minds of those with whom it is purporting to consult. The question being posed is not clear and those contacting the District Council are consequently unclear as to what is expected of them

* Consultees are not able to reach a considered view on the draft proposal for a single council for all of Devon because of the level of detail that is unknown regarding the draft proposal

* The draft proposal for a single unitary council for Devon is not based on an objective analysis of all the evidence presented to the Boundary Committee. It is not acceptable that the Boundary Committee has recommended a single unitary council for Devon on the basis that this is the simplest means of introducing a unitary council in accordance with the government's timescale of wanting to see a new council up and running by April 2010

* The assumption that a single unitary council is to be preferred because it has the potential to be more efficient is untested and fails to take account of and properly balance all of the statutory criteria

* The Boundary Committee has stated that alternatively a single unitary council for Devon is necessary because northern Devon lacks capacity. If this is their assessment, then the needs and interests of not just southern Devon, but particularly east Devon are being unnecessarily and unfairly disregarded. The result is that a single unitary council for Devon will not be in the best interests of those currently served by East Devon District Council.

Councillor Randall Johnson added: "Contrary to the claim that the draft proposal could bring local government closer to the people of Devon, we believe this will create a remote unitary authority that will be out of touch with the needs of its communities and an unnecessary regressive step".

ENDS

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