Norwich City Council is co-ordinating a group of 19 district councils
seeking a firm to lobby the Government on their bid for unitary
Chester, Gloucester, Oxford, Canterbury, Northampton and Exeter are
believed to be among the group seeking to upgrade their official status,
which would give them independence from their local county council and
hence the right to control their own spending on education and social
Alan Waters, leader of Norwich and chair of the Local Governance Review
Group said: ’The group believes community governance and service delivery
can best be achieved by unitary local authorities at district level.’
The move is likely to spur county councils into defensive action which
could in turn involve hiring their own political advisers.
The group has approached at least three firms, Westminster Strategy,
Westminster Communications and Market Access International.
The councils will need to persuade the new Government to instruct the
Local Government Commission to take a fresh look at their case.
The commission was set up in 1992 with a remit to undertake any structural
reviews when instructed to by the Department of Environment. It made final
recommendations in December 1995.