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LETTER SPELLS END FOR SIR JOHN'S TWO TIERS

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The government is set to reject final recommendations for two council tiers in rural Derbyshire and Durham as furth...
The government is set to reject final recommendations for two council tiers in rural Derbyshire and Durham as further evidence of acrimony between the DoE and the Local Government Commission emerged this week.

As the commission was announcing its proposals on Monday (see page 5 for full details), DoE officials were preparing to release a letter from commission chairman Sir John Banham in which he appeared to distance himself from the findings.

In the letter to Local Government Minister David Curry, Sir John said if districts in the area proposed joint alternatives 'you may wish to invite the commission to consider these even though our work in these areas is now completed'. The DoE sent copies of the letter and Mr Curry's acknowledgement to the media on Monday evening.

Speaking at the Association of County Councils conference in Windermere on Wednesday, Sir John denied any change of position and suggested ministers had asked him to write the letter. 'It is not for me to speculate on why ministers would ask me to write a letter', he told a baffled audience. After his speech, Sir John said he had informed commissioners he sent the letter but did not say it had been agreed by them.
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