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District council submissions to the Local Government Commission are over-estimating the savings which will result f...
District council submissions to the Local Government Commission are over-estimating the savings which will result from unitary councils, according to figures collected by the Association of County Councils.

The association says the favoured options presented to the commission would cost £116 million a year more to run, rather than saving £180m as claimed by the Association of District Councils (LGC, 6 May).

The transitional costs would total £622m and would never be recouped, says the analysis, compiled by the Society of County Treasurers. Grossed up for all 39 review areas, transitional costs would hit £970m. If the preferences of the 28 counties were followed the society calculates there would £34m in savings a year.

The ACC says the number of existing authorities would have to be cut by two-thirds if transitional costs were to be recovered in five years. The average population for unitary authorities would have to be 330,000.

The ACC claims preliminary analysis carried out on the batch of submissions published on 29 April show a lack of consensus among many districts. It points to Surrey CC as an example of where conflicts between districts have been masked, claiming the joint submission, which proposes five to six unitaries, is a collection of 'fallback' options and does not reflect the true picture.

The districts of Guildford, Spelthorne, Woking and Epsom and Ewell all want unitary status, says the ACC, but non of these are included in the joint submission. In addition, it says, Waverley wants to merge with its neighbour Guildford, an option which is rejected by Guildford and Runnymede and Surrey Heath want to merge with Woking, which Woking has rejected.

The ACC says there are only two counties, Buckinghamshire and Norfolk, where all districts are signed up to one map. But it says a change in political complexion of Broadland DC at the elections could mean it withdraws its support from the Norfolk plan.

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