Honiton Town Council opposes unitary bid

PUBLISHED: 08:53 24 September 2008 | UPDATED: 22:22 15 June 2010

THE Boundary Committee's draft proposal for a unitary council for Devon fails on five counts and should not be rubber-stamped by the Government. That is the view of Honiton Town Council.

THE Boundary Committee's draft proposal for a unitary council for Devon fails on five counts and should not be rubber-stamped by the Government.That is the view of Honiton Town Council, which at a special meeting on Monday night voted to reject the plan. The deadline for responses is Friday (September 26).Councillors reached their conclusion after first consulting with neighbouring parishes.A concise and, in places, detailed summary of the draft proposal's failings were put to the meeting by Councillor Jill McNally, who had earlier co-ordinated an exchange of views with parish councillors."We took five criteria and addressed our response to each," she told the meeting."We found the criteria, as laid down by the Secretary of State, have not been met."The parishes mainly had the same reservations that we felt."Councillor McNally told the meeting, chaired by mayor Councillor Chris Tratt, that the council had received "virtually no response from the public"."It is understandable, because the proposal is hard to comprehend," she said. "I don't mean that in a condescending way. I just think the public have left it to us."Major concerns among councillors included the proposed community boards, which many felt would be undemocratic and un-elected.Concerns were also raised about the volume of extra responsibility likely to fall back on local communities, raising questions about funding, training and even a willingness by people to serve as councillors.The meeting acknowledged the proposed new authority would be one of the largest in England, geographically.Former county councillor Peter Halse congratulated Councillor McNally, saying she had compiled "a very good summary of the situation"."The change in power is going to be absolute," he said. "I've been a county councillor. You are a councillor for four years before you know what's going on in there (County Hall). It's a vast organisation."Referring to the Boundary Committee's proposal, Councillor Halse added: "It's a glorified talking shop. They just haven't thought it out. It's just a dream."Councillor Richard Gaughan said he preferred the status quo. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," he told the meeting. "I feel we are banging our heads against a brick wall for no purpose."Deputy mayor Councillor Vivienne Ash said: "I am concerned about the way the public have been consulted about this.You either bombard them with loads of paper or give them a very brief synopsis that doesn't cover everything."I think an Exeter and Exmouth authority would be disastrous for Devon and leave an impoverished hinterland.

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