Unitary - some hard facts

PUBLISHED: 14:42 04 October 2008 | UPDATED: 14:42 09 April 2010

The controversy about re-organising local government has become increasingly political and financially orientated. Which council is in the red and borrows most? Which tries to mislead the public about future savings in council tax? Which spends most on s

The controversy about re-organising local government has become increasingly political and financially orientated. Which council is in the red and borrows most? Which tries to mislead the public about future savings in council tax? Which spends most on self-preservation propaganda? It is time to take a hard look at a few published figures which can be checked by readers. l "Two mail shots to the district's 32,000 residents have cost £40,000." (Journal, Sept 18). This cannot be right. The latest official estimate for East Devon is 131,800 residents. EDDC's typographical error for 132,000, or what? l If EDDC paid only £16,000 for its second mailshot (as reported in Sidmouth Herald, Sept 5), it got a rare bargain from Royal Mail. As first class return postage to 62,458 households (also latest estimate) was included, it looks like a discount of the order of 60 per cent (even on the assumption that only a fraction of the pre-paid replies would be posted). Staff wages/salaries would also be involved. l The latest published count of returned postcards is said to be 13,870, an insignificant increase of 220 on last week's. The conclusion remains "some 99 per cent indicate objections to a massive Devon council, with only l50 people in favour" (Journal, Sept 18). In my view, the more plausible conclusion is that the opinion of 78 per cent of the households is unknown. EDDC can only claim that 22 per cent of the households are opposed to changing the two-tier system. l What was EDDC's own response to the 11,000 signatures on the petition against ASDA on the estuary? A period of silence, followed by continued "negotiations" with ASDA behind closed doors. The 2007 estimate for Exmouth's population is 34,415. After adjustment to exclude children under 16, the 11,000 comes to a "poll" of roughly 38.5 per cent adults - a response which is 1.75 times as great as the percentage of postcards supporting status quo. If EDDC didn't heed a petition representing 38.5 per cent of Exmouth's adults, why should the Boundary Committee be impressed by a 22 per cent support of status quo? The committee of six (three are university professors) may well check all the figures and conclude that EDDC "uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts - for support rather than illumination" (Andrew Lang, l844-1912). Anita Jennings, Northview Road, Budleigh Salterton.