Letter: Councils' historic and cultural value can't be ignored

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Sir: Your article by Nicholas Schoon about the impending local government changes in the shire counties (5 September) is correct to point out that 'a typical shire', along with five district councils which at present have six chief executives, would in future probably only need three for the new unitary authorities created. He makes the same point about the reducing number of personnel, legal and finance departments.

However, the article does not then go on to consider the position of the education service. If you were to follow the argument through in Humberside, the single education department which covers Humberside would then have to sprout into four departments to cover the four unitary authorities proposed by the commission. The education service in the county accounts for some 60 per cent of the budget and so it is possible that the savings made by reducing some departments could be more than offset by the increasing administration for the education service.

The other point that is easily ignored is the issue of economy of scale. Will smaller unitary authorities be able to maintain services such as learning support, support for the visually and hearing impaired, peripatetic music and county choirs and orchestras all of which are greatly valued at present?

The local government commissioners have not shown that the new arrangements will make anything other than paper savings.

Yours faithfully,

JOHN NEEDHAM

Honorary Secretary

NASUWT

Scunthorpe

South Humberside

5 September

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