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Unitary Councils

Volume 458: debated on Monday 19 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has for further waves of bids for unitary status. (127103)

We have given councils in two-tier areas a short window of opportunity to make proposals for unitary status. We have no plans to launch a further round of reorganisation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what criteria she has specified for assessing the business cases put forward for unitary authority status. (127510)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 19 December 2006, Official Report, column 1818W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whom she has appointed as independent auditors to assess unitary authority bids. (127511)

The assessment process, set out in the Invitation to Councils in England which we published alongside the White Paper, provides that financial cases underpinning the proposals that proceed to stakeholder consultation will be subject to limited assurance in relation to the submission of baseline figures to be carried out by the Audit Commission.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects (a) the bids for unitary status to undergo assessment and (b) reports on these assessments to be published. (127512)

Proposals for future unitary structures are currently being assessed against the criteria set out in the Invitation to Councils in England which we published alongside the White Paper. We intend to announce our decisions on which proposals should proceed to stakeholder consultation before 27 March, the day for publication of the notice of election for the forthcoming local government elections.