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Unitary Councils

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 7 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what powers she has to impose a new unitary arrangement upon a two-tier area; what trial has to be observed; and what period of consultation she expects to be undertaken. (202487)

Our powers to create new unitary structures for an area are limited to implementing, with or without modification, proposals made by one or more councils for the whole or part of an area, or alternative proposals made by the Boundary Committee following a request to the Committee for advice on the councils' proposals.

Before implementing a proposal the Secretary of State must consult every authority affected by it (except the council or councils which made it) and such other persons as she considers appropriate, unless the proposal is made jointly by every council affected by it; and before making an alternative proposal the Boundary Committee must consult persons who may be interested.

We would expect any consultation by the Secretary of State or by the Boundary Committee to last at least the normal 12-week period for public consultations, unless the particular circumstances warrant a different period.