Rethink 'possible' on councils: Ngaio Crequer looks at the continuing uncertainty besetting local government

IN A volte-face, Sir John Banham, chairman of the Local Government Commission for England, last night said he could change recommendations he had announced only hours earlier for local government reorganisation.

At 10am yesterday, Sir John revealed final recommendations for Derbyshire and Co Durham, and said large rural areas should still be governed by two-tier authorities, because residents did not want change.

But in the afternoon he suggested to ministers that his commission might be asked to think again. In a letter to John Gummer, the Secretary of State for the Environment, he said: 'The commission is disappointed not to be able to recommend unitary structures for the rural areas of Derbyshire and Co Durham. If new joint proposals for unitary structures are now put forward in those areas . . . you may wish to invite the commission to consider these.'

The proposals made for reforming local government in England were always likely to incur the Government's wrath by not going far enough. There has been strong Tory pressure for unitary authorities.

The Local Government Commission for England had bowed to some pressure - but not all - in arriving yesterday at final proposals for Derbyshire, Cleveland and Co Durham. It is a mixed bag of new authorities and the status quo. But the Government will be unhappy that they do not transform council structures.

In Derbyshire the commission has proposed unitary authorities for Derby and for North-east Derbyshire. For the rest of the county, there should be no change to the existing two-tier structure.

The commission has stuck to its earlier proposal that Cleveland County Council should be abolished. It has recommended five new unitary authorities for Darlington, Hartlepool, Stockton, Middlesbrough, and Redcar and Cleveland. Outside Darlington, there should be no change to the existing two-tier structure for Co Durham.

Sir John Banham, chairman of the Local Government Commission for England, said they had proposed 'no change' for largely rural areas of Co Durham and Derbyshire because residents preferred the two-tier system.

'What we are determined to do is introduce and recommend unitary authorities where they enjoy local support. What we cannot do is to make recommendations for unitary authorities which are plainly not supported by local people.'

The Association of District Councils said the Government should reject both the Derbyshire and Co Durham recommendations. Margaret Singh, the chair of the association, said: 'Patching together a mongrel two-tier system for parts of these areas would lead to continued conflict.'

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine