SIR - Wales used to have eight counties until, 19 years ago, 'Colonial Governor General' John Redwood changed the number of county councils to a ridiculously high 22 unitary authorities
, giving some an anglicised 'shire' suffix.
The unitary authorities
in our region have had their detractors and I often hear calls for the old district councils to be reinstated, but Northumberland Unitary Authority has only existed for five years and this is about separation rather than reform.
Freedom of information requests by former Cabinet minister Hilary Benn found that bus services across shire counties and unitary authorities
had seen their grants cut by an average of 23 per cent and 24 per cent respectively.
It said the four boroughs of Stockton, Middlesbrough, Langbaurgh - as Redcar and Cleveland was then called - and Hartlepool should become unitary authorities
The new unitary authorities
replaced 37 district councils and eight existing county councils.
District councils have been abolished in Northumberland and Durham and replaced by unitary authorities
in both counties.
The Government's Local Government White Paper last year concluded that unitary authorities
"enhance strategic leadership, neighbourhood empowerment, value for money and equity".
A referendum in 2004 saw residents voting for two unitary authorities
for the county, along a rural urban split, rather than one.
Residents in Wales and Scotland as well as several English counties are already benefiting from unitary authorities
The figures show Wales' population as three million, with 22 unitary authorities
37% Current structure with five separate unitary authorities
They pointed out that the single unitary council plan was rejected when it was part of the2004 Regional Assembly ref-erendum and was turned down again when 58% of people who took part in a survey said they wanted the county to be run by two unitary authorities
- one urban and the other rural.