THE Government has recommended Cheshire should be ruled by two new councils – although the official decision has been delayed.
Ellesmere Port & Neston’s Labour MP Andrew Miller confirmed it was “reasonable supposition” to assume the cabinet committee responsible had this week backed a proposal to split the county into West and East Cheshire councils.
An announcement was made on Wednesday concerning the future of other shire counties but it is understood the Cheshire decision is still to be rubber-stamped by the Treasury.
A supporter of the two-councils solution, Mr Miller is urging the Government to make the announcement in parliament before the Christmas recess.
The MP blamed the county council, which is seeking a one-council-for-Cheshire option, for the delay.
He said: “The county put in lots of additional information at the 11th hour and did not have the courtesy to share this with me or my parliamentary colleagues. Quite rightly the Secretary of State must look at this and hence the delay.
“If I was a gambler I would say it would still result in the decision I have been looking for.”
Chester’s Labour MP Christine Russell was less forthcoming but gave the strong impression the two-council solution, which she also favours, would win out in the end.
She said: “What I was told this morning by the DCLG (Department of Communities and Local Government) was that it has to go to the Treasury and the Treasury is saying the financial implications are quite complex. They just want to make sure that the option stacks up financially.”
Minister John Healey said in his official statement to the House of Commons: “We have received a very large volume of detailed information and representations about these proposals since July.
“We are still considering this material, and may need to seek further clarification.”
Tory deputy city council leader Stephen Mosley, who is against wholesale reform of local government, accused Labour of “dithering”.
He said: “It’s the staff I feel for. These are dedicated workers who have mortgages and young families and they don’t know if they will have a job in a few months’ time.”
Cllr Mosley added: “If we have unitary government, 500 jobs in the west of the county will be lost.”