THE Government’s failure to announce a decision on the future of local government in Cheshire a fortnight ago has caused “serious rows” in Westminster, the borough’s MP has revealed.
And Andrew Miller says he has been stressing to Ministers they must make their minds up before Christmas.
Local Government Minister John Healey was expected to announce in early December which of the two proposals for reorganising Cheshire’s councils he was backing.
While district councils such as Ellesmere Port & Neston have been suggesting two all-purpose authorities to serve the east and west of Cheshire, the county council has been promoting the idea of one large authority taking care of all services.
Under the districts’ plan this borough would join with Chester and Vale Royal in a new West Cheshire authority.
Although he gave permission for the creation of five new unitary authorities elsewhere in the country, Mr Healey said that in Cheshire the volume and detail of views and information received since July meant the Government was “giving the continuing consideration necessary to determine the best unitary arrangement.”
He added a decision would be made in the near future once this thorough examination has been completed.
Last week borough council leader Cllr Justin Madders said the stalling had left the authority in financial “limbo”, unable to properly plan for the future.
And he said: “We definitely need a decision by Christmas or things are going to be very difficult.”
This week that view was endorsed by Andrew Miller MP who said: “This has caused some serious rows down in Westminster and there’s been blood on the carpets over it.
“I am pressing for a decision by Christmas. If it is stalled beyond then it will be a disaster for the borough council, which will not be able to plan.”
He added: “I am saying to Ministers we need a decision pretty damned quick.”
Mr Miller suggested that while decisions on the other areas of the country seeking unitary status had been fairly straightforward, the delay in a decision on Cheshire’s future was down to the fact that the issue had blown up into a major political row.
SERIOUS ROWS: Andrew Miller MP.