DETAILS of a massive review which will change the shape of Cheshire were unveiled this week.
The Boundary Committee for England has published proposals to modernise local government across the county.
The committee announced on Monday three options - a single unitary council for Cheshire, two unitary authorities based on an East/West division of the county with Northwich and Winsford in the west and Middlewich in the east and three unitary authorities based on a pairing of existing district councils.
Under the third option, Northwich and Winsford residents will become part of Mid or Central Cheshire Council, comprising Vale Royal and Crewe and Nantwich borough councils, while Middlewich residents will join East Cheshire Council, bringing together Congleton Borough Council with Macclesfield.
The Boundary Committee has carried out reviews of local government before a referendum asks residents what they want to see next year.
The changes in Cheshire, along with Lancashire, Durham, Cumbria, Northumberland and North Yorkshire, are now subject to public consultation.
The aim is to simplify the levels of local government by recommending unitary authorities, which will replace the existing district and county councils.
Districts promise to stay in touch
CHESHIRE'S district councils have warmly welcomed the news that their proposals for local government reorganisation in the county are among the principal recommendations announced on Monday by the Boundary Committee for England.
The present system of county and district councils in Cheshire will be replaced by unitary authorities, similar to Warrington or Halton, if there is a 'yes' vote in next year's referendum on a North West regional assembly.
Northwich and Winsford residents will become part of Mid or Central Cheshire Council, comprising Vale Royal and Crewe and Nantwich borough councils, while Middlewich residents will join East Cheshire Council, bringing together Congleton Borough Council with Macclesfield.
Speaking on behalf of the district councils, Cllr Peter Kent, leader of Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council, said: 'The most effective and convenient form of unitary local government for Cheshire can surely only be delivered by organisations which are in touch with the local community but which can offer value for money, efficiency and high-quality services.
'Three modern Cheshire unitary councils are without doubt the best way to achieve this - a view reflected in the number of letters of support submitted to the boundary committee by organisations and members of the public during the first phase of consultation.
'The new councils offer another significant advantage - they would start with a fresh approach.
'Old assumptions about how Council Tax is to be spent will be challenged, genuine consultation with local people will take place and the latest thinking on a whole range of services will be our starting point.
'Representatives of all the councils will be meeting again today to discuss what we now need to do in order to develop further our proposals. '
All six councils are now encouraging local people to make their views known to the committee.
Anne Bingham-Holmes, chief executive of Vale Royal Borough Council, said: 'Obviously we hope that local people will support our view, that the three modern unitary councils for Cheshire will ensure continuity of local leadership, local control, local services and local choice - along with the most efficient and effective use of Council Tax.
'But most importantly, people need to take part in this process - they should consider the options, think about them carefully and let the boundary committee know their views.'
The councils urged residents to be sceptical about the county council's claims about the transitional costs of unitary councils, as the boundary committee stated 'the county council's figures have not been audited by the Audit Commission'.