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AVON THREATENS ACTION OVER EARLY ABOLITION

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Avon CC has threatened to take environment secretary John Gummer to court if he goes ahead with his intention, reve...
Avon CC has threatened to take environment secretary John Gummer to court if he goes ahead with his intention, revealed in a letter passed to LGC last week, to abolish the council ahead of other south- western counties.

The letter, from Mr Gummer to Lord Privy Seal Viscount Cranborne, would like to make an early announcement before he has decided on the future shape of Gloucestershire and Somerset which are in the same review area as Avon.

'The commission also recommended that the Avon county area should, for ceremonial purposes, be divided between Gloucestershire and Somerset, with Bristol as a separate city and county.

'However, it will not be possible to make a decision on this until we have made decisions on the structure of local government in Somerset and Gloucestershire,' the letter sent last Friday says.

Basil Smith, Avon CC's chief executive, said leading counsel has advised that a decision on Avon alone would be open to judicial review.

'The council has resolved that it would pursue judicial review if reorganisation in Avon were to be taken forward in advance of the remainder of the review area.'

Mr Smith also complains that Mr Gummer appears to have made up his mind before meeting deputations led by Avon and Bristol. Mr Smith also presses Mr Gummer to create Bristol as a potentially new 'city and county' authority so that county staff will have 'equal opportunities for recruitment' to the new council.

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