Magazine article Public Finance

New Unitaries Need 'Local Focus'

Magazine article Public Finance

New Unitaries Need 'Local Focus'

Article excerpt

Councils preparing to become unitary authorities next April need to work out just how they will make local involvement a reality, local government minister John Healey has said.

In an interview with Public Finance, Healey said all the councils granted unitary status had made community and town level involvement a major feature of their bids.

'What they need to do is nail down the proposed arrangements and consult people about how they will work' he said. 'Each and every proposal got the go-ahead because there was a strong element of arrangements for [decision-making] at a community and town level, which should bring influence more within the reach of people.

'I will want to see, within a couple of years, these councils setting the standard for other councils in that part of the country. That was the promise that was there in each of their proposals.'

Nine new unitary authorities will come into existence on April 1 in seven areas of England, including Cornwall, Northumberland and Cheshire. Healey has been visiting the affected councils to take stock of their progress and offer additional help. The councils should also be prioritising the appointment of senior staff and good communication with residents, he said. …

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