BOROUGH MP Andrew Miller clashed with a Labour colleague from the other side of the county as the Commons debated Cheshire’s local government reorganisation.
Mr Miller’s sparring session with Crewe and Nantwich member Gwyneth Dunwoody came just after midnight as the House was considering the official order for splitting the county into two, with this area falling into the new West Cheshire.
Mr Miller was explaining his reasons for supporting the move when he was interrupted by Mrs Dunwoody.
He shot back: “My hon friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich has had her say ... I can be even ruder.”
He then continued by saying the notion that the proposal was splitting Cheshire was “fallacious” as it had already been changed by earlier local government shake-ups in 1974 and then in the 1990s.
Mr Miller added: “The second misconception is that the proposal splits the county council – it does not. It is about seven authorities becoming two. That is a matter of fact, and the efficiency gains come from it.”
He also countered suggestions the change had been imposed by the Government, pointing out in Ellesmere Port & Neston it had three-party agreement.
The east/west split, he argued, made sense because, economically Cheshire faces two different ways.
The west faced towards Deeside – “one of the fastest growing parts of the British economy” – while the east faced towards the Potteries and Manchester.
Earlier, Mrs Dunwoody claimed the effects of reorganisation would be “absolutely disastrous”.
She added: “The county will be divided into two, both unitaries will be faced with direct economic problems and they will both lose money.”
The education services would face difficulties with a reorganisation being pushed through “over their heads”.
Mrs Dunwoody pointed out that the Number 10 Downing street website bares nearly 2,000 signatures defending Cheshire’s status as a unitary whole.
She said: “I reflect the views of those who have consistently expressed to me their anger and astonishment at the way in which the issue has been handled, and their total disbelief that a Labour Government could proceed with a project that is neither affordable nor supported, which does not provide value for money, and which will not fulfil the criteria that were originally set out.”
Members went on to approve the order by 278 votes to 151.
Later, Mr Miller said: “We await the final round in the Lords. I was pleased to hear comments from all parts of the House about the positive way in which officers of the merging authorities were working together in the interest of the Council Tax payer.”