Gummer Reprieve for Two Councils
Schoon, Nicholas, The Independent (London, England)
BY NICHOLAS SCHOON
Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire county councils will be spared from abolition, John Gummer, the Secretary of State for the Environment, is expected to announce next week.
The Local Government Commission, set up to review the structure of local administration in English shires outside the seven largest conurbations, had recommended the two councils should be among seven county authorities to be abolished.
Mr Gummer is believed to have decided Milton Keynes,Buckinghamshire, and Luton,Bedfordshire, should be unitary councils, covering the full range of local government services.
Elsewhere in the two counties, he will call for the existing two- tier structure of district and county councils to remain, instead of the commission's proposal for more unitary councils.
Among those calling for the retention of the counties were two former Conservative foreign secretaries with local links, Lord Carrington and Lord Pym.
The Local Government Commission completed its recommendations last month. It had travelled England and consulted local opinion for two years. Now Mr Gummer is considering his response to its recommendations. What now seems likely to emerge is that at least 20 large towns and cities will gain self-governing status, with their own elected councils covering the full range of local government functions including education and social services. …