Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

County Councils Could Bite the Dust under Reorganisation

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

County Councils Could Bite the Dust under Reorganisation

Article excerpt

Yesterday's announcement could mark the beginning of the end for the historic town hall structure in Northumberland, Durham and Cumbria.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott last night asked the Boundary Committee to look into alternative local government structures in all three counties.

A yes vote in a referendum on elected regional government would mean a radical council shake-up in areas with two-tier district and county local authorities.

It means that if the North-East and North-West opt for an assembly next autumn, district and county councils in Northumberland, Durham and Cumbria would be scrapped.

They would be replaced by all-purpose unitary authorities like those already operating on Tyneside and Teesside. But local government in the region is already at odds with itself over how many unitary authorities there should be, and where the boundaries should be drawn.

Voters will get a choice on the referendum ballot paper between two different options as set out by the Boundary Committee.

This is likely to be a choice between unitary counties based on the present boundaries, and mergers of the existing district councils to create "superdistricts" such as South East Northumberland. …

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