COUNCIL MERGER MEETS SMALL OPPOSITION

Less than one voter in 30 has bothered to offer an opinion on whether West Devon and South Hams councils should merge,.

Of those who did, a majority were against – 55% No against 45% Yes.

But councillors will be able to argue that there is no way of telling if that is a representative view.

Both councils are due to make their minds up at the end of this month on whether to go ahead with a merger.

They ran online surveys through their websites and commissioned telephone surveys, sent out 70,000 postcards, held public meetings and used social media to encourage the public to take part over the eight weeks of the consultation.

West Devon Borough Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee has now accepted the results as being as fair and accurate as possible and passed them on for consideration at the crunch meeting on October 31.

West Devon needs the cost savings more than South Hams and might have to accept a new combined council in which the South Hams side of the district would have a majority vote.

There has been talk in local government circles of Devon County taking on most borough responsibilities and devolving the rest down to town and parish councils. But Plymouth and Torbay are againsts it and with ministers preoccupied with Brexit, no major local government reform is now thought likely for some time.

West Devon Council leader Philip Sanders said today: “ I am obviously disappointed that more of our residents didn’t feel able to complete the survey, I am nonetheless pleased that the process we have used has been judged to be robust, according to national guidelines.”

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Editor of The Horrabridge Times.