Letter: The counties aren't broke, so don't fix them

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is vital that your readers become much more aware of the Government's intentions ('Ministers decide to wipe out county councils', 22 November), and judge whether the upheaval merits the costs of the change.

Sir John Banham has recently said that the transitional costs arising from reorganisation will average out at pounds 50/ pounds 60 per household. The Department of the Environment, the Treasury and the local authority associations are all aware of a forecast cost of pounds 1bn, and this is at a time when the focus is upon reducing public expenditure.

The transitional costs will have to be met by higher local taxes, larger government grant or cuts in local government services.

Your readers may not recall that the 1974 reorganisation led to an increase in government grant and the setting up of the Layfield Commission because of the public outcry arising from the increase in rate bills in April 1974.

All the evidence from the opinion surveys conducted for the Local Government Commission indicates that the public generally has no stomach for yet another costly reorganisation.

Yours faithfully,

DEREK THOMAS

County Chief Executive

Surrey County Council

Kingston upon Thames,

Surrey

22 November

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