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LOCAL SUPPORT FOR UNITARY COUNCILS, SAYS JOHN BANHAM

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Local people tend to support all purpose unitary authorities, Sir John Banham said today launching the Local Govern...
Local people tend to support all purpose unitary authorities, Sir John Banham said today launching the Local Government Commission' first progress report.

Sir John Said: 'Local people seem to be well aware of the key issues involved in local reorganisation and tend to support in principle all purpose unitary authorities.'

The Commission says its report 'Renewing Local Government in the English Shires' makes it clear that the commission fully recognises the dangers of considering the structure of local government separately from finance or management.

None the less, said a statement, it believes that the review can usefully serve to correct mistakes that were made in 1974, adjust the structure of local government in light of developments of the last 20 years and help local authorities prepare for an important role in the next century.

The statement continues: 'But changing the structure is only a means to the end of securing the more effective co-ordination and integration of different local services to meet the needs of local communities. This potential will only be realised if there is local support for change and local 'champions' for particular structures.'

From its surveys and consultations the commission says there is a general pattern, which is markedly different from that predicted by the government and many observers. The pattern is strong identification with quite small local communities, widespread support for a change to unitary councils and lonely limited support for unitary councils based on existing council boundaries.

The statement adds that the Commission believes that in the new unitary authorities management responsibilities should be devolved to the community level and also that local town and parish councils should have an enhanced consultative role.'

Sir John Banham went on to call for councils to listen carefully to local people as the initial proposals put forward by county and district councils have often turned out to enjoy very little support.

Copies of the report 'Renewing local government in the English shires' from HMSO tel: 071-873 9090, ISBN 011 780 0007.

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