Letter: What future for local councils?

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The Independent Online
Sir: How unfortunate that the latest victim of Cleveland County Council's relentless propaganda should be your newspaper. In Tuesday's leading article on the local government review you stated that 'in Cleveland, it chose an option that promises financial savings only half those that might have been achieved'. The facts are somewhat different.

Estimates for the annual saving for the Local Government Commission's recommendation of four unitary district authorities are pounds 6m to pounds 11m. Estimates for savings from the county's preferred option of a Teesside county are pounds 11m to pounds 16m. So the difference could be pounds 10m. It could equally be nothing. The commission itself wrote to the county to complain about this particular statistical sleight of hand. One should also remember that the budget of the current county council is over pounds 800m, so these estimated savings are decimal percentage points anyway.

The commission is right to recommend unitary status for Hartlepool and the other four districts. Public support for this has been undermined by constant mischievous and misleading publicity from the county council for the best part of a year. Overwhelmingly, local people now want an end to argument and implementation of what the commission has proposed.

Yours sincerely,

PETER MANDELSON

MP for Hartlepool (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

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