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Decisions on the reform of local government for 15 counties were announced by environment secretary John Gummer in ...
Decisions on the reform of local government for 15 counties were announced by environment secretary John Gummer in the today.

Mr Gummer said that the broad pattern emerging from the review was:

- abolition of the unloved counties created in 1974, which have never commanded the loyalty of local people

- creation of unitary local government in many large towns and cities

- retention of the two-tier system elsewhere, but with improved co-operation between the tiers

As a result of today's decisions, 15 of England's largest towns and cities in the 12 counties are likely to be governed by unitary authorities which will deliver all the services presently supplied by the two-tier system of district and county councils.

They are Derby, Stoke-on-Trent, Nottingham, Leicester, Portsmouth, Southampton, Plymouth, Torbay, Bournemouth, Poole, Southend-on-Sea, Reading, Slough, Brighton and Hove, and Thamesdown (Swindon).

At the same time, Mr Gummer also announced that the historic county of Herefordshire wil be restored and will have a unitary authority. Rutland will also be given unitary status provided it can demonstrate that it can guarantee effective local services for a small population at acceptable cost.

He also announced that Berkshire CC will be abolished and replaced by six unitary authorities. As well as Reading and Slough, there will be Bracknell Forest, Newbury, Windsor and Maidenhead, and Wokingham.

he decisions on these 12 counties are the last to be ammounced.

Taken together, all of Mr Gummer's decisions should result in the creation of 38 new unitary authorities. A further limited number of areas are to be considered for unitary status by the reconstituted Local Government Commission, as announced by Mr Gummer on 2 March. The future shape of local government in England is thus largely now known.

Mr Gummer said:

'I can now announce my decisions on the remaining 12 shire counties as set out below. In all cases I have considered the commission's reports and the representations I have received. In the process I have taken into account the transitional and ongoing costs and the viability of the structures - both of unitary authorities and remaining two- tier arrangements - which will result from my decisions. In each case I am satisfied that on balance my decision will best reflect the identities and interests of local communities and will best secure effective and convenient local government.'

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