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HERFORUM  March 2000

HERFORUM March 2000

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Subject:

Re: Unitaries

From:

"Bob Jones" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Thu, 23 Mar 2000 10:45:04 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (32 lines)

As one who works in an urban unitary, Bristol, which did not change its boundaries post LGR, I have mixed feelings regarding the post LGR situation. In the former Avon county area there was considerable lobbying, by Bristol to extend its boundary to reflect the reality of the built up area and by the surrounding former districts to establish their independence, at whatever cost. Certainly I suspect that the decision to scrap the 1974 county of Avon had been made at an early stage. There was considerable dislike of the county at a local as well as a political level, although personally I think that some of the criticisms were unjustified. There was also a lot of jingoistic talk flying about in terms of bringing back Bristol's county status, conferred in 1373 and lost in 1974, as well as reuniting the county of Somerset. The latter of course never happened and we now have the confusing situation of having Somerset, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset. And maybe there is South Somerset as well, but that is beyond my limited range of vision and the Mendips.

On the positive side, regarding archaeology, I find it exciting to be involved at the 'sharp end' of day-to-day decision making regarding huge development and regeneration projects as well as being involved in strategic planning issues. All this and the SMR makes for rather a full day and inevitably I cannot hope to cover all the tasks which I should. I know things aren't quite as rosy in some of the other unitaries (cue for Vince Russet in N Somerset here!). It really depends on critical mass and thus the ability of a particular authority to devote resources to what are still non-statutory functions.

Bob Jones
City Archaeologist for the City (and County!) of Bristol

>>> [log in to unmask] 23/03/00 10:00:32 >>>
Gareth,

Speaking from personal experience of the abolitioin of a County Council and it's replacement by six small UAs, i can safely say that there were no overall criteria used.  The outcome of the local government revew was based on the circumstances in each county, the representations made by the local authorities and the whim of the LGR review commissioin (can't remember it's proper name at the moment) and last but certainly not least the political dogma of the Conservative government.  In some parts of the country reorganisation may have made some sense but is many, if not most, it did not.  For example the doughnuts effect in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire (ie, unitary city, two-tier county are more of a product of effective lobbying by the city authorities than clear strategic thought on behalf of the Local Government Commission.

In Berkshire, which is the area I know best, it was decided to simply abolish the County Council.  The Districts were not reorganised at all leaving and already fairly small county split uo into six small (geographically and demographically) areas, most of whom do not have enough critical mass to sustain the extra duties on the current coucil tax returns.  The end result is inefficiency, confusion and lack of strategic thought.  For example, In Berkshire, we have the stupid situation where a large part of the connurbation of Reading sits outside of the Borough Council's borders in Districts that could be described as hostile.  If there were clear criteria used by the Commision, the districts would also have been reorganised as they are basically too small.

I'm not sute if this helps you.  It is a very biassed and cynical view of UAs I holdas, as far as I can see, the result of Lgr in virtually all of the areas it was carried out has been disasterous in the short term and short sighted in the long term.  A result of political dogma over clear strategic thinking.  If anyone in other UAs has a radically different view, I would be intrigued to hear them as Berkshire is not necessarily representative.

Rob Bourn.


>>> Gareth Talbot <[log in to unmask]> 03/23/00 09:27am >>>
Not really an SMR question, but lets's just say I have developed an
unhealthy interest in Unitary Authorities!
Does anyone know what the criterea was when the UAs were created? i.e.
was it based on population, area etc..?
Cheers
Gareth




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