Letter: Two tiers are better than one

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The Independent Online
I WAS very pleased to see your leading article 'Rolling back accountability' (30 January), which also has a resonance for the current reviews of local government structure in England and Wales. These reviews are supposed to be introducing more 'unitary' authorities in place of the present long-standing and proven two-tier structures. I am concerned that, far from improving accountability, such new authorities would weaken it.

To carry out many important policy responsibilities they would need to operate through some kind of joint committee which brought together a number of authorities too small to carry out the responsibility by themselves. Such arrangements would detract from accountability because the committees would not be separately elected, and would have no mandate and few sanctions. They would in practice be another form of two-tier local government, but less accountable.

There is no point in changing local government structure unless accountability is strengthened at the local level.

Dennis Pettitt

Association of County Councils

London SW1