I APPLAUD your correspondent of December 28 and agree that the appalling decision to divide Cheshire into two defies reason, financially, socially and culturally.
This is a decision that has been made entirely on the whim of the Minister, Hazel Blears, with the support of all Cheshire MPs, except the MP for Crewe and Nantwich. It has no financial credibility, lacks judgement and is completely irrational, unless the Minister has some hidden agenda about which we know nothing.
I’ve lived in Cheshire almost all my life and for 30 years have seen successive Conservative and Labour governments systematically destroy the shire county of Cheshire for their own party-political ambitions. It’s time the people of Cheshire said that enough is enough.
The majority of residents have consistently said ‘no change’.
Two unitary authorities will automatically mean higher taxes with no guarantee of higher quality services. We have an excellent authority that already delivers 85% of our services.
Leave us alone.
Helen Carey OBE
THANK you for bringing the issue of Unitary Government to the attention of your readers following the recent decision by Hazel Blears, Minister of Local Government, to split Cheshire down the middle.
Many people are unaware that Chester City Council who put in the application for Two Unitaries of West and East Cheshire, were in fact thrown out by the electorate of Chester last May.Š
Chester people were overwhelmingly against Cheshire being divided and this resulted in the Liberals and Labour Party being in opposition after 20 years in power. The decision means that Chester is now the capital of half of Cheshire instead of the whole County!
Of course, local people were not consulted about these changes – hardly democratic!
The view in my division of Weaver is also overwhelmingly against the division of Cheshire and I have not spoken to anyone who supports this decision.
Cheshire has been around for over 1,000 years and was mentioned in the Domesday Book. It has its own history and culture. The division of Cheshire into two Unitaries is the most expensive option for the long-suffering tax payers and means that West Chester will eventually become part of Merseyside and the East part of Manchester.
The Government has given the “green light” to City Regions as Regional assemblies fall by the wayside. Cheshire, one of the best economies in the country, will therefore have to absorb the higher costs of the City Regions.
Sadly, Vale Royal, Chester and Ellesmere Port have nothing in common and the West will have to absorb the Ellesmere Port large housing debt which is over £50 million. There are many other complications – for example all the thousands of Cheshire wide contracts will have to be renegotiated at great expense.
After trying to get rid of “duplication” all the services will be doubled up as each authority will need separate structures for Education, Social services etc.
Cheshire County Council is an “excellent” authority and Vale Royal has recently become an “excellent” District Council, showing that our taxes are being spent efficiently and effectively.
Both of these authorities will disappear. Vale Royal also has lost the opportunity to be the centre of political power with all the benefits that would bring.
It obviously now makes sense for the political seat to be in Chester which is the centre of the three borough councils and there is already a big enough council chamber to accommodate the 72 councillors proposed. What a very sad situation this is.
Editor – How about a campaign to save Cheshire ?
ŠCOUNTY COUNCILLOR NORA DOLPHIN
I AM not surprised to see that Councillor Bob Rudd has welcomed a Labour government decision with his usual dogged loyalty, quite undistracted by facts, logic or public opinion.
It is disappointing, however, to read that he has welcomed the abolition of Chester City Council, a high-scoring council of which he was proud, until quite recently, to be a leading member. Mind you the line he so keenly follows was laid, allegedly, by Chester’s MP Christine Russell, whose political experience was gained as a senior member of the same City Council.
Not all Cheshire’s veteran Labour elected representatives have taken the same view. This is what Gwyneth Dunwoody, MP for Crewe and Nantwich, had to say on the decision to split Cheshire into two.
“The secretary of state has taken the decision …. not on economic grounds, because all that information was supplied to her and to Treasury Ministers in considerable detail from the beginning of the discussion in July. It was pointed out to her that the two new authorities would rapidly run out of reserves – indeed, that they would do so within the first year of their creation.”
I cannot consider that any decision that results in the squandering of reserves, the lessening of democratic accountability, major upheaval and distraction to staff charged with delivering local services is a good thing.
I also feel that when Cllr Rudd claims that the reorganisation will result in a structure that will be far easier for the man in the street to understand he fails to recognise that vital services in this area will still be delivered by a plethora of agencies of varying degrees of accountability.
We will still have Cheshire Police, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Authority, the Probation Service, the Environment Agency, the NHS, the Ambulance Trust, the Countess of Chester Hospital, the Primary Care Trust, the Mental Health Trust, the Housing Trusts, the Job Centre, the Learning and Skills Council, Business Link, the Highways Agency, the Mersey Dee Alliance. Please forgive me if I have missed a lot because not even the Cabinet Office knows how many quangos there are.
Abolishing the city council is irresponsible and can, at best, make only a marginal difference to the number of bodies we rely on for local services.
EVELEIGH MOORE DUTTON,