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LABOUR ATTACKS PARTISAN DECISION TO RE-REVIEW TWO COUNTIES

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Labour's environment spokesperson Jack Straw has attacked as 'partisan' the government's decision to refer back Der...
Labour's environment spokesperson Jack Straw has attacked as 'partisan' the government's decision to refer back Derbyshire and County Durham for a second structural review, but not Cleveland.

Mr Straw said the decision 'could well leave the Secretary of State open to a judicial review'.

But the decision to direct the Local Government Commission (LGC) to start again in Derbyshire and Durham, after vetoing its controversial plans for reorganisation, has been backed by the Association of District Councils (ADC).

Ministers today told the Commission to rethink its proposals for the two counties in the face of widespread criticism, a move which the ADC believes signals the end of the present district county two-tier local government system.

In Derbyshire, the LGC proposed creating two new unitary, all-purpose councils for Derby city and North-East Derbyshire (which is a merger of Bolsover, Chesterfield, and North East Derbyshire districts), while maintaining the two-tier status quo for the rest of the county.

In Durham, the LGC recommended just one unitary district council, Darlington, which the ADC wholly endorses, with the rest of the county served by two-tier local government.

The proposals, dubbed 'a shambles' by the ADC, had little public support, and the government's rejection underlines its clear guidance that two-tier recommendations 'would need special justification and should be the exception'.

Derbyshire and Durham deserve the same chance as Cleveland, says the ADC, where the LGC has sensibly recommended abolishing the county council and granting unitary status to the districts of Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Stockton-on-Tees, and Langbaurgh-on-Tees.

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