CHESHIRE is to be ruled by two new councils covering the east and west of the county.
Confirmation is expected today of a decision to abolish Cheshire County Council and all six district councils in an announcement by Secretary of State Hazel Blears.
It is predicted 500 jobs will go in West Cheshire when the Government replaces the existing structure with two one-stop councils, or unitary authorities, which will take on all responsibilities from deciding planning applications to providing schools and roads.
The idea is to end confusion for the public and bring about lower Council Tax through a more efficient delivery of services.
Tory Vale Royal council leader Les Ford (Helsby) said: “If the decision, as expected, is to go to two unitaries then on the ground there will no obvious change. The services delivered by local government will be delivered.”
The Conservative-controlled council went against its own party’s national stance in supporting unitary local government to thwart the county council’s preferment for a one-council-for-Cheshire which was regarded as ‘too big’.
Cllr Ford hopes his party will control the new Cheshire West Council although he accepts it ‘will always be close’ with many predicting the authority is likely to be ‘hung’ with no party in overall control.
Chester is favoured as the location for the headquarters of the new council.
Labour group leader Cllr Brian Lloyd (Frodsham) supports one-stop councils.
He said: “It ends the confusion of different bodies dealing with different issues.”
The draft order seen by The Chronicle reveals the two new authorities will be called Cheshire West Council and Cheshire East Council.
See page 27.