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ACC BACKS BANHAM AFTER CALL TO RESIGN

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The Association of County Councils defended Local Government Commission Chairman Sir John Banham against a senior b...
The Association of County Councils defended Local Government Commission Chairman Sir John Banham against a senior backbencher's call for his resignation this week.

The call follows Sir John's progress report on the structure review published last Friday, which resurrected hopes for the retention of two tiers of local government.

The association welcomed the report (LGC, 10 and 17 December 1993) because of its statement that any reorganisation should only follow 'clear local support for change'. The Association of District Councils put an opposite interpretation on the report which it said 'further reinforces the commitment to unitary structures'.

Environment Secretary John Gummer revised his guidance to the commission in September to try and ensure that it recommends more, smaller unitary councils. Robert Jones, Conservative MP for Hertfordshire West and chairman of the environment select committee, told the Independent newspaper that Sir John had made 'ridiculous' decisions and should quit. The committee had planned not to comment on evidence it had gathered from Sir John and Local Government Minister David Curry.

However, a commission spokesman stressed that Mr Jones' remarks were made as an MP and there would be no question of Sir John resigning. ACC Secretary Robin Wendt said Mr Jones' comments 'perhaps confirm the feeling that the committee's investigation was set up with the sole purpose of discrediting the commission'.
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