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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 March 2007, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
City's unitary bid goes forward
Exeter's move is supported by all political parties on the council
A Devon city's bid to become a unitary authority has succeeded in getting on to a government shortlist.

A stand-alone council for Exeter would mean the city would take control of education, social services and trading standards from Devon County Council.

Exeter says unitary status would avoid the duplication that exists now through sharing power with the county council.

The bid is now to undergo government consultation. A final decision is expected in July.

Expenditure 'skewed'

Local Government Minister Phil Woolas announced on Tuesday that the city's bid was one of 16 across the country which had been shortlisted.

At present Exeter is responsible for a wide range of local services, including planning, housing, waste collection, environmental health and leisure services.

But the city council said the current system - with Devon County being responsible for education, social services and trading standards - left Exeter at a disadvantage.

It said the current set-up meant expenditure was "skewed further away from the city than it should be".

If it is granted, the council said unitary status would mean it should be able to direct that money where necessary.

The bid has all-party backing on the city council.

Costly bid

But critics have warned that the bid was flawed and unitary status would not necessarily increase the city's efficiency.

Devon County Council said it was very disappointed that the county could be further broken up. The Plymouth and Torbay areas are already unitary authorities.

The county council also warned that creating the authority could cost the county at least 20m and result in "tearing out the administrative heart of public services in Devon to create another small, struggling unitary council".

The government said that, if successful and subject to the Parliamentary process, those who succeed in getting the unitary status are expected to be operational by April 2009.

Elsewhere in the South West, Cornwall County Council and Somerset County Council have also had their unitary bids shortlisted.

County's unitary bid goes forward
27 Mar 07 |  Cornwall
Unitary status plan for councils
27 Mar 07 |  Somerset
Unitary council hopefuls unveiled
27 Mar 07 |  UK Politics

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