THE announcement that Cheshire will be split and ruled by two councils has led to fears of an increasing influence in decision-making from Liverpool and Manchester.
Following a rigorous debate over the issue, Local Government Minister Hazel Blears has decided to replace the current structure with a West Cheshire Council and an East Cheshire Council.
The move to create two authorities has been slammed by Peter Moore Dutton, of Tushingham, who fears it will give Liverpool and Manchester a strong voice over what happens in rural Cheshire.
He said there will be many problems ahead, such as who will look after and fund facilities like the County Records Office and Tatton Park, and the police force may also be divided up.
“The way things have been run has worked for centuries – Manchester people will not understand the area and we will lose our say on local issues,” he said.
“The leadership of Chester City Council has acquiesced to this plan, rather than standing up and contesting the decision, and should have the guts to face the future consequences for Cheshire.”
Cheshire County Council opposed the split. Its proposal for one all-purpose council for Cheshire was rejected as being too big and remote from the people – though it is still fighting to overturn the decision.
Former High Sheriff of Cheshire, Mrs Carolin Paton-Smith, of Marbury, says the split is not in the best interests of the county or its residents.
“It’s a very sad thing for Cheshire if it goes ahead. We’ll be swallowed up in the big organisations of Liverpool and Manchester,” she said.
“There is a lot of strong feeling against it and the costs of setting it up will be huge.
“We have a well run county council as it is.”
The Government move means abolishing the county council and six district councils, including Chester City Council, Ellesmere Port & Neston and Vale Royal, who share responsibilities of local government.
The aim is to make life simpler and cheaper for Council Tax-payers by setting up just two unitary councils which do everything – saving more than £16m a year and leading to a predicted 400 job losses across the county and 222 fewer councillors.