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REORGANISATION: CHESHIRE'S SIX DISTRICT COUNCILS

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Leaders of Cheshire's six district councils met yesterday morning to review the Boundary Committee for England's dr...
Leaders of Cheshire's six district councils met yesterday morning to review the Boundary Committee for England's draft recommendations for unitary local government in Cheshire*.

In a joint statement they said: 'We are delighted with the Boundary Committee's decision to include the joint districts' proposal for 'Three Modern Cheshire Councils' for consultation during the next phase of review of local government in Cheshire. We reaffirm our unanimous support for this.

We agree wholeheartedly with the Boundary Committee's concerns over a unitary option based on the county boundary. This puts a big question mark over the county council's' ability to engage with all residents across a huge area.

The Boundary Committee report states 'one of the most important challenges that would face a single unitary authority would be to be sufficiently 'local' to effectively represent all the communities in the county, while providing services, which meet the needs of local people.'

This is reinforced by MORI opinion poll findings, which show that more than 60 per cent of Cheshire residents fail to identify strongly with the county council area.

That is why we are backing the 'three unitary councils' solution for Cheshire, which would provide truly local services with local control, local choice and local leadership.

We urge residents to be sceptical about the council's claims about the transitional costs of unitary councils, as the Boundary Committee says: 'The County Council's figures have not been audited by the Audit Commission and we have no view on this.'

This joint statement was issued in response to the Boundary Committee's report on 1 December by councillors David Evans - Chester City Council; Roland Domleo - Congleton BC; Peter Kent - Crewe & Nantwich BC; Fred Venables - Ellesmere Port & Neston BC; Peter Burns - Macclesfield BC; and Keith Musgrave - Vale Royal BC.

Councillors of all parties at Crewe & Nantwich BC were briefed by Alan Wenham, ch ief executive yesterday. The councillors were given details of the next stage in the consultation process.

* PUTTING DRAFT OPTIONS FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT ON THE TABLE

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