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Councils accused of scare stories over reform plans

AS THE public consultation stage of the reform of local government draws to a close, county councils today stand accused of corrupting the process by issuing misleading propaganda and scare stories, writes Ian MacKinnon.

The Association of District Councils renews its call to the Local Government Commission to weigh up what it says are transparent attempts to influence the opinions expressed about possible changes.

Yesterday the commission outlined the possibilities for Cornwall, making clear its preference for no change to the two- tier system of a county council and six district councils.

However, the commission will also consult on several other options - establishing a unitary authority for the county, or retaining the county while merging the six districts into three - before making its recommendation.

Merger would cost between pounds 9m and pounds 11m to set up, with savings of pounds 1m to pounds 3m annually, while a unitary authority would cost pounds 20m to pounds 22m to set up but save pounds 7m to pounds 9m a year.