Local Government

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 10:32 pm on 5th February 2008.

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Photo of John Healey John Healey Minister of State (Department of Communities and Local Government) (Local Government) 10:32 pm, 5th February 2008

The citizens did not disappear. Our approach was to look at the range of support that might be expressed for the proposal that was submitted by Wiltshire. There was indeed a response from the public, the majority of it in campaign form. That was part of the representations that we took into account, and we published the summary of responses back in July. There were probably more people in favour of maintaining district councils and not moving to a unitary council than there were in favour of a unitary council. Nevertheless, about a third of the public who offered a view could see the merit of a unitary Wiltshire and would like that to happen.

Let me return to a point that I made earlier. The question about broad support did not relate simply to whether there was a majority view in favour—that was not the judgment that we were trying to come to. We were trying to assess the strength, credibility and potential value of a proposal that the council itself submitted to us in response to the invitation that we issued more generally.