Letter: Rush to decide future of county councils will create more problems

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Sir: Your report 'Ministers decide to wipe out county councils' is astonishing. The Government has set up the Local Government Commission to recommend what the local government structure should be in shire England. Chris Blackhurst quotes a minister as saying in effect that whatever the Commission recommends, and irrespective of the public's preferences, the Government will impose its own solution. That would be a constitutional and political outrage.

Mr Blackhurst's ministerial source appears to be ignorant of the statement in the Guidance to the Commission that the Government does not require 'wholesale abolition of either district or county councils'. His source's slender grasp of arithmetic leads him to suggest that small-scale unitary authorities would save staff, when in reality more would be needed. For every county surveyor or director of social services, education director and so on, there would need to be two or more. So the prescription now being suggested means a more top-heavy management structure and more expensive local services.

I wish to make quite clear that the Association of County Councils will continue to fight for competent, cost-effective, strategically based and accountable local government, whether under a unitary or two-tier structure. We will have no truck with the abolition of county councils and their replacement by mediocre and ineffective district-sized authorities.

Yours sincerely,

JOSEPHINE FARRINGTON

Vice Chairman

Association of County Councils

London, SW1

22 November

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