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Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles (to whom the heartiest of congratulations on his appointment) has acted decisively to ditch the Labour Government's planned reorganisation that would have meant unitary councils for Exeter and Norwich. He says it is "definitely off."

Cllr Daniel Cox, the Conservative leader of Norfolk County Council says:

"I'm pleased that Eric Pickles is very clear that he is going to follow through on the Conservative Party's previously stated commitment to stop the local government review. The party's position from the start has always been that re-organisation is an unnecessary distraction and what residents really wanted to see was local government delivering effective services as efficiently as possible. To see Eric Pickles take over at CLG and within 24 hours demand that civil servants find a way of unpicking the legislation, is no surprise."

The plans for Norwich by John Denham, Pickles's predecessor, were particularly dodgy. They prompted an unprecedented  letter from DCLG Permanent Secretary Peter Housden to Denham about them breaching financial rules.

More generally I suspect that the DCLG civil servants are pleased to have a Secretary of State who is on top of his brief and capable of taking decisions – although some of those decisions may include reducing the number of DCLG civil servants.

Cllr John Fuller, leader of Soutth Norfolk, will be celebrating. Of course unitary status can have advantages – see this piece by Glyn Gaskarth. However Pickles has made his views pretty clear:

I'll have a pearl-handled revolver waiting in my drawer for the first civil servant who suggests another local government reorganisation.

14 comments for: Unitary plans for Norwich and Exeter “definitely off” says Pickles

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