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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 June 2007, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
Unitary plan 'powerfully opposed'
Harrogate MP Phil Willis
Phil Willis questioned Tony Blair in Parliament
The prime minister has agreed there is "powerful" opposition to plans for a single council for North Yorkshire.

Whitehall wants to create the single authority which would be responsible for local services across the county.

Harrogate MP Phil Willis told Tony Blair during prime minister's questions he should either give residents a referendum or scrap plans altogether.

Mr Blair said the fact all seven of the county's MPs opposed the unitary idea was "very powerful".

In the House of Commons, Mr Willis asked the prime minister: "In North Yorkshire, all seven MPs, the district councils, parish councils, major business organisations and the overwhelming majority of council taxpayers are opposed to the government's proposals for a unitary North Yorkshire Council.

"Will the prime minister, as part of his legacy to North Yorkshire, condemn these unwanted proposals to the scrapheap or at least insist that the voters of North Yorkshire express their views in a referendum?"

Mr Blair said: "The fact that all seven North Yorkshire MPs oppose the bid is very powerful."

He also said the plan would be "carefully considered" taking into account the need for a broad cross-section of support.

Speaking later, Mr Willis said: "I welcome the PM's very positive and supportive comment.

"This costly and bureaucratic proposal will mean higher council tax, poorer services and yet more disruption for the most vulnerable people in the county.

"Let's hope it is thrown out".

The Harrogate and Knaresborough MP is scheduled to meet Angela Smith the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government next week to discuss the plans.




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