MP in bid to halt unitary council proposal
PUBLISHED: 16:18 16 October 2008 | UPDATED: 22:29 15 June 2010
East Devon MP Hugo Swire has asked the Government to re-examine its drive towards forcing unitary authorities on Devon in the light of the economic downturn.
East Devon MP Hugo Swire has asked the Government to re-examine its drive towards forcing unitary authorities on Devon in the light of the economic downturn.Mr Swire outlined his concerns in the Local Government Debate which was held at Westminster yesterday (October 16). The proposal, which involves the structure in Torbay and Plymouth to remain unchanged and for the rest of Devon, including the county capital Exeter to be under one new unitary, does not have the East Devon MP's support.Mr Swire said that in a time of economic uncertainty it would be even more foolish to proceed. "When the minister talked about the credit crunch, he was perhaps underestimating the effect that the economic downturn will have on the delivery of services. "This is not the time to look at changing local government in my county of Devon. To paraphrase what the Minister for Local Government said at the start of the debate, local government should do what is written on the tin. In Devon, it is working: it could do better, but the two-tier enhanced system is by the far the best and most affordable. In these times of economic uncertainty, affordability must become the key criterion."In the debate Mr Swire also criticised the accountability of regional ministers calling them "phantoms.""It seems to me that regional Ministers are phantom Ministers. In my case, the Minister for the South West, the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Bradshaw) has a pretty full-time job, I should imagine, at the Department of Health. There is no way in which one can hold a regional Minister to account in his capacity as regional Minister. He is not accountable to Parliament and I do not believe that he has an additional secretariat provided by Parliament to do his job. If he is a spokesman for the south-west, why do we not hear him speaking up for the south-west a little more than he does? I am not singling out the Minister for the South West-I would make the same comment about every regional Minister, " Mr Swire said.
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