A DECISION to spend £100,000 on a public referendum on the future of Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council has sparked criticism from pressure groups.
At a meeting on Wednesday, councillors from all parties agreed to stage a postal referendum and poll to find out how people in the borough feel about the Government and county council's plans to axe all six borough councils in Cheshire in favour of one single, county-wide authority, or one each for East and West Cheshire.
But pressure groups and campaigners who have fought in the past to see the public consulted on key local issues have said they feel the referendum will be at the cost of other more pressing concerns.
Frank Jones, a leading figure in the Memorial Action Team who fought the council over its decision to move Crewe's war memorial in 2006, said: 'I'm absolutely gobsmacked that they are going to spend £100,000 on this.
'I believe in democracy, but I would doubt the wisdom of wasting so much money on something like this.'
Mr Jones added: 'We had thousands of signatures asking for a referendum over whether to move the war memorial, and we didn't get one. I think people would regard this referendum with suspicion.'
Hugh Emerson, secretary of the Northern Pensioners' Association Crewe and District, said that he felt if a referendum was to be held, the Government should pay for it.
The borough council's Conservative leader Brian Silvester defended the council's decision.
He said: 'I think it's important for the future of local government in this area that people have a say.
'I don't like spending this money, but it's something the Government should have done themselves.'
The referendum must be held before the end of the Government's 12-week consultation of its stakeholders on June 22.
Who do you think should pay? Write: The Chronicle, 32-34 Victoria Street, Crewe CW1 2JE Fax: 01270 502439 E-mail: crewe.news @cheshirenews.co.uk