Unitary authority given thumbs up in Beds

PUBLISHED: 09:53 20 March 2007 | UPDATED: 11:40 06 May 2010

A survey of 1,000 residents has revealed broad support for a new, county-wide unitary authority system for local government in Bedfordshire. The survey, carried out by Ipsos-MORI, was conducted to assess public opinion before proposals for a new single co

A survey of 1,000 residents has revealed broad support for a new, county-wide unitary authority system for local government in Bedfordshire.

The survey, carried out by Ipsos-MORI, was conducted to assess public opinion before proposals for a new single council for Bedfordshire, excluding Luton, were submitted to the Government by Bedfordshire County Council.

In Mid Beds 48 per cent of resident voted for the new system with 57 per cent of Bedford Borough residents voting for the proposals.

Overall, 49 per cent of county residents were for a county-wide authority, which rose to 60 per cent after those polled were given more information.

Under the county council's proposals, the council estimate savings of £26m in annual running costs if a single council took over the county's affairs.

A change to a unitary system, says the county council, would also end a lot of the confusion about which council runs which service. Under the current system, council services are provided by the county council, as well as borough and district councils.

In the survey 69 per cent of people also thought the current system confusing and 84 per cent agreed that with a single council it would be clearer who is responsible for services.

A unitary Bedfordshire, says 68 per cent of residents, would also give the county a stronger voice.

Cllr Madeline Russell, leader of the county council, said: "We have the chance to secure a future for the county, preserve and enhance its identity and its strategic ability, and offer residents better, more responsive and cheaper local government services provided by a single council.

"All the authorities in the county share the ambition of improving the quality of life for residents and keeping council tax down.

"We believe that under the options offered by the Government in the white paper, a county-wide unitary authority provides the best chance of achieving that ambition and it is pleasing our residents share this view.


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