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The Welsh Office has announced more details of its proposals for area committees under the planned new unitary auth...
The Welsh Office has announced more details of its proposals for area committees under the planned new unitary authorities.

Local authority associations and existing Welsh district and county councils have received a consultation paper explaining which new councils could have area committees and the sort of powers that could be delegated to them.

The proposals are in response to concerns about the size of some of the proposed unitary authorities, which will take responsibility for services on 1 April 1996. Under the proposals, larger authorities would be required to prepare decentralisation schemes setting out functions to be delegated to area committees made up of councillors elected for the relevant area.

The consultation paper suggests that nine of the proposed 21 unitary authorities would be unlikely to be asked to prepare a decentralisation scheme because they are based on a single district council. The Secretary of State, John Redwood, would not approve area committees for an area with fewer than ten councillors.

Functions that could be delegated to area committees include: various decisions on housing; planning applications; area-based social services; environmental health; and leisure. Some functions, such as council tax rates and education, could not be delegated.

Comments on the consultation paper should be sent to the Welsh Office by the end of February.

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