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Leader calls for his council's abolition

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Cheshire East Council’s leader has called for his authority to be reunited with neighbouring Cheshire West & Chester Council only five years after they were divided.

Michael Jones (Con) issued a statement calling for the unification of the two councils within the boundaries of the old Cheshire CC, which was abolished in 2009. He said this was a personal view only.

Cllr Jones said the split of Cheshire, which also saw six districts abolished, left its two successors “weaker as a result, yet [they] mirror one another in terms of their people and aspirations.

“It didn’t make much sense then and it still doesn’t. Yes, Cheshire East as a local authority is a great success and I’m sure Cheshire West would say the same about their council.

“But the fact remains, it was a bad decision and the people weren’t behind it and I suspect many are still not.”

Cllr Jones said a reunited Cheshire could reduce council tax by some £100 per household through greater efficiencies.

Paul Findlow (Con), the last leader of Cheshire CC and now Cheshire East’s portfolio holder for governance, who opposed the split of the county, told LGC: “It is an idea worth discussing though I suspect it will not be well received in the west.”

A Cheshire West & Chester spokeswoman said neither the council nor its leader Mike Jones (Con) would respond to Michael Jones’ suggestion.

Cheshire East’s Labour opposition backed the idea of a county unitary when the reorganisation process started a decade ago, but said in a statement today: “Ideas have their time and then they become obsolete distractions. Sometimes we think Michael Jones is keen to become an obsolete distraction.

“Our message to Michael Jones is ‘stick to the knitting’ and provide high-quality services for your residents before you start trying to reorganise local government yet again.”

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