Letter: The Government's hidden agenda on county councils

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The Independent Online
Sir: It appears that government ministers have already decided that whatever solutions the Local Government Commission proposes, none of England's 39 county councils is to survive the current shake-up of local government.

If, as your front-page story ('Ministers decide to wipe out county councils', 22 November) asserts, ministers have already decided the future shape of local government in the shires, they have in doing so made a mockery of the commission's apparent independence.

The ministerial leak must be a source of deep embarrassment to Sir John Banham and the other members of his commission, who, striving to be even-handed in the communities they are studying, have been frustrated by government meddling in their deliberations at every turn.

That a minister should so openly prejudge the work of his own commission only reinforces a view some of us in local government have held for some time. It does not matter how scrupulous the commission is if the Department of the Environment is to pursue a hidden agenda regardless of public opinion.

There is overwhelming support in Derbyshire for the retention of the present two-tier system of local government and any attempt to dismember the structure in the face of the wish of the population will be steadfastly opposed.

Yours faithfully,

ROBERT JONES

Deputy Leader

Derbyshire County Council

Matlock, Derbyshire

22 November

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