Letter: The Government's hidden agenda on county councils

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The Independent Online
Sir: I am very surprised at what 'ministers' have allegedly decided about the future of county councils (report, 22 November). From the time when the legislation was passed until now, ministers have regularly said that the independent Local Government Commission has all options open to it to consider for each area.

In June 1991, Robert Key, MP, then Environment Minister, said:

We will not repeat the errors of the 1970s. Then, local views were ignored when local government boundaries were redrawn. That must never be allowed to happen again. Under our proposals we intend to give local people the opportunity to say what sort of structure suits them best. So there is no question of central government dictating how local government should be organised . . . Nor, therefore, can there be any question of the Government announcing the wholesale abolition of county councils.

The Government's own guidance, to which your article refers, dated November 1993, itself says: 'The Government does not wish to impose a national blueprint for reform, or to require the wholesale abolition of either district or county councils.'

So, unnamed minister, let's have no secret agenda. Keep to your government's word, let the commission and the people in each area consider every option, and let there be no national blueprint.

Yours faithfully,

BARRY CAPON

Chief Executive and Clerk

Norfolk County Council

Norwich, Norfolk

22 November

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