Council moves throw up work

Further changes to local government may throw up identity work, following Environment Secretary John Gummer’s plans to refer more potential unitary authorities to the Local Government Commission.

Gummer announced his decision last week on the fate of 20 English counties awaiting judgement on possible unitary status (DW 20 January). Another 12 counties are still waiting for his decisions on whether they will stay as two-tier or move to unitary local government which, according to Gummer, will be announced “as soon as possible”.

Out of the 20 counties covered by Gummer’s statement last week, three will get partly unitary authorities: Luton in Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire and Darlington in Co Durham. The other counties on the list will remain two-tier.

The commission recommended no change for the other 17 counties, but Gummer is asking the commission to look again at selected districts in some of the counties, including Blackburn, Blackpool, Northampton, Peterborough and Warrington.

Also lined up for the new review are Thurrock and Basildon in Essex, one of the counties yet to hear of its fate.

Other candidates for review are likely to be the Broxtowe, Gedling and Rushcliffe areas around Nottingham city centre.

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