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WAR OF WORDS ACROSS ENGLAND OVER UNITARY PROPOSALS

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A war of words is continuing over Peterborough City Council's moves to increase control of its affairs following th...
A war of words is continuing over Peterborough City Council's moves to increase control of its affairs following the Local Government Commission's recommendation that it become a unitary authority, reports BBC Cambridgeshire.

The city council claims it could get £3m from the government if the recommendation is accepted, but Cambridgeshire CC says this sum is an overestimate.

And the Leader of Fenland DC, Chris Benett, says removing Peterborough from the administrative county could add £40 to Fenland council taxpayers' bills. He states he will be writing to the government to protest at the commission's recommendation.

Elsewhere, there was mixed reaction to yesterday's draft recommendations.

Chester City Council welcomed the proposal to create unitary councils in the Cheshire districts of Warrington and Halton as 'an important step towards unitary local government generally'.

Chester fought its own determined campaign to get back unitary status but was refused, but the council says it will give its full support to the proposals for Warrington and Halton during the consultation period.

But the county council expressed its 'disappointment' that Halton and Warrington could be given unitary status.

'It is difficult to see the benefit to Cheshire people of these proposals,' said council chair Diana McConnell.

'Only a year ago, a majority of people in Cheshire, including those in Halton and Warrington, said they do not wish to see their councils to be changes and at that time the commission agreed. In our view no fundamental new considerations have arisen since then to change the situation and the problems of increased cost and risk to services for everyone in Cheshire, not just in Halton and Warrington, remain.'

In the south, Gillingham BC's Liberal Democrat council leader Bob Sayer said the news that Gillingham could be absorbed into a Medway authority was 'a kick in the teeth for local democracy'.

'The commission is ignoring the views of local people who are even more determined to stay in Kent than they were a year ago. I hope local people will continue to say 'we want to stay in Kent, we don't want to be a London borough',' he said.

Cllr Sayer said that the partnerships which exist between Gillingham BC and Kent CC 'offer a unique blend of skills and value for money, which have been supported and endorsed by local people.'

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