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The final recommendations for the last five counties have been announced today by the Local Government Commission....
The final recommendations for the last five counties have been announced today by the Local Government Commission.

A unitary council for Derby City and no change elsewhere in Derbyshire, Cornwall, Gloucestershire, Hertfordshire and Shropshire has been recommended to the environment secretary.

This ends the commission's two and a half year review of all 39 English shire counties, during which it has recommended altogether 50 new unitary councils, heralding a major change inthe way services are delivered to over eight million people. A comprehensive report on the review will be published next month.

Commission chair Sir John Banham said:

'We believe we have corrected the mistakes made in 1974 while avoiding making new ones. However, a process is now in place to enable further structural change to occur at the local level without a wait of another quarter of a century if local attitudes and circumstances alter.

'In those areas where we judged there was insufficient evidence to justify change, there is also potential for progress. We have acted as a catalyst for improvements to the existing system, which would never have taken place without the prospect of abolition.

'Most councils have now realised that the time has come to forge new relationships, and to care first about the standard of service they provide in their communities.

'By listening to local opinion and not pressing ahead with all our earlier draft recommendations, transitional costs of up to £500m will have been avoided - this far exceeds the planned capital spending on schools in the areas in question next year.'

The secretary of state has to allow at least six weeks for representations to him, before making any Order implementing the commission's recommendations.

If the SoS sees fit to accept the commission's recommendation for structural changes in respect of Derbyshire, with or without modification, it will be implemented by means of an Order that will be subject to debate in both houses of parliament in due course.

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