Heseltine says there should be no bar to Exeter home rule
A bar on Exeter going for home-rule should be lifted by the Government according to former Tory Cabinet Minister Lord Heseltine.
Legislation blocking the city council's bid to go it alone was 'redundant' and should be repealed he argued.
However, Lord Heseltine has implied this would be more to pave the way for authorities to come together to form unitary 'super' councils, in a move to sweep away two-tier local government, which he argued led to "duplication and inefficiencies" and made it more difficult to "exploit economic opportunities fully".
He highlighted proposals for local government drawn up in the 1960's which was for a unitary authority covering much of the county.
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Lord Heseltine's call for two-tier councils to move to unitary status came in a radical blueprint he had drawn up for the Government aimed at boosting economic growth in the regions.
It also included a beefed up role for the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, and the creation of a mega-fund totalling almost £60 billion of Whitehall cash which could be used to implement targeted economic action plans.
Backing the scrapping of two-tier councils, Lord Heseltine said a single unitary authority would be easier for business to deal with and speed up decisions.
In his 228-page report, the former Conservative deputy prime minister said: "Changing to a unitary model of local government will not be easy.
"It will naturally be uncomfortable for those involved, it may be disruptive in the short term and it will take time. But it would be a mistake not to persevere.
"The costs of the two-tier system are simply unsustainable. The advantages in increasing effectiveness and freeing resource for the benefit of communities will outweigh the pain."
The review document added: "Two years ago the new Coalition acted decisively and rapidly to begin to put the public sector finances on a stable footing.
"It called an immediate halt to those authorities exploring unitary status to avoid the short term costs of transition.
"The Local Government Act 2010 which enacted this policy is now to all intents and purposes redundant.
"In keeping with the Government's deregulation agenda, and to avoid future uncertainty, when parliamentary time allows the Act should be repealed."
Pressed on this in relation to Exeter's halted unitary bid ahead of the publication of his report, Lord Heseltine told the Express and Echo: "I am merely saying remove the embargo. If they want to do it they should be free to do it."