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Unitary Councils: Exeter

Volume 470: debated on Thursday 17 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) when she will publish (a) the assessment of the financial viability on the unitary council proposal submitted by Exeter City Council and (b) the results of the further examination she ordered regarding the Exeter City Council bid; (171176)

(2) what advice she has received from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and the Investment Property Forum regarding the financial viability of the proposal for unitary status submitted by Exeter City Council.

We received advice on the financial aspects of the unitary proposals submitted by Exeter city council from independent financial advisers we engaged through the Institute of Public Finance. We received no advice from the Investors Property Forum.

This advice contributed to the decision that I announced on 5 December that we would not be proceeding with Exeter city’s proposals for unitary status because, having made a reasonable estimate of the costs and savings that would be likely to occur as a result of restructuring, we believe that the pay back period would be more that the five years specified by the established affordability criterion.

I have no plans to publish the advice we received and the financial assessment of the Exeter city council’s unitary proposals.