John Gummer, the Secretary of State for Environment, yesterday ordered a fresh structure review of these first important proposals made by the commission.
His decision will raise hackles and call into question the usefulness of an independent body. Yet the decision was expected as the commission had already seemed to express doubts about its own decisions. It announced final recommendations for Derbyshire only for Sir John Banham, chairman of the Local Government Commission for England, to throw them into question in a letter to ministers that said the recommendations did not have to be the last word. He said that the commission could be invited to look again at Derbyshire and Durham.
Yesterday's announcement did just that, emphasising the need for local consensus. The Association of District Councils said the original proposals were a shambles. A spokeswoman said: 'This is a positive move by government, which should bring forward proposals designed to deliver changes for the better throughout Derbyshire and Durham. Opinion polls have consistently shown that people do not want the confusing two-tier system.'
The recommendations as they stand are as follows: one council for Derby, another for north Derbyshire and the rest of rural Derbyshire to keep a two-tier council structure.