Devon unitary status advice delayed

PUBLISHED: 10:57 15 July 2009 | UPDATED: 23:49 15 June 2010

THE Boundary Committee has been forced to postpone its recommendations for the future of local government in Devon, which it had been due to publish today (Wednesday)

THE Boundary Committee has been forced to postpone its recommendations for the future of local government in Devon, which it had been due to publish today (Wednesday)

A High Court ruling criticising the way it dealt with similar proposals for Suffolk means it has had to ask the Secretary of State for an extension to the July 15 deadline.

The committee was considering two proposals - one to create a whole-Devon unitary authority, excluding Torbay and Plymouth; and a second to create an Exeter and Exmouth unitary together with a single authority for the rest of the county.

Either of the options would have meant the demise of the county's district councils, a prospect which has been opposed by both North Devon and Torridge District Councils.

A Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: "We have received a request from the Boundary Committee to extend the deadline for their advice, which we have granted.

"Once it is clear when any appeal may be determined, a new deadline for the Boundary Committee's advice will be specified.

"We are still clear that if appropriate unitary structures are identified for Devon, Norfolk and Suffolk that have the potential to offer real benefits for the residents of these areas by delivering better services, improved efficiency, stronger strategic leadership and genuine engagement and empowerment of local communities, it would be wrong to deny the people of these three areas those benefits."

A Boundary Committee spokesman said: "The High Court ruling made on Friday, July 10 in respect of the Boundary Committee's local government review in Suffolk quashed the further draft proposals for the county as published on March 19, 2009.

"Therefore the committee is no longer in a position to provide advice for Suffolk by July 15.

"Additionally, because the court action on Suffolk has clear implications for the committee's further draft proposals for Devon and Norfolk and any advice to the Secretary of State in those counties, the Secretary of State has decided that the committee is no longer requested to provide advice by July 15.

"The committee welcomes the Secretary of State's decision to consider an appropriate date for provision of final advice.

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