The Department for Communities and Local Government has announced nine all-purpose local authorities are likely to be created in 2009 in English areas where functions are currently split between county and district authorities.
Under the plans, which could save over £150m a year, Cornwall, Durham, Northumberland, Shropshire and Wiltshire county councils will assume control of district authority responsibilities, such as housing, in their areas.
These five seem certain to go ahead, while four other bids have received DCLG backing in principle, but must further demonstrate their financial viability.
Under the first, Cheshire Council, which runs adult and children’s services in its area, would be scrapped, with two unitary authorities created in its place, in a bid submitted by district authority Chester Council.
District authorities in Bedford, Exeter and Ipswich would also gain unitary status, taking over adult and children’s services responsibilities within their boundaries from Bedfordshire, Devon and Suffolk county councils respectively, if the DCLG gives them final backing.
The Department for Communities and Local Government rejected six other unitary bids against criteria covering value for money and service quality.
The most recent local government reorganisation took place from 1995-8, when 46 unitary authorities were created in areas where two-tier local government previously existed. London and all other English cities have long been governed by unitary authorities.