The commission, however, insists that its recommendations have differed from the first review only when new evidence has been advanced. The second review covered 21 district councils in 12 counties and focused on the case for a particular town or area to have unitary status rather than looking at a county as a whole. The first review led to 38 unitaries being set up but left many English county councils intact.
Consultation on the draft recommendations is to end on November 8. The commission is due to make final recommendations by Christmas though Mr Gummer will consider further representations for another six weeks. If he accepts the recommendations Orders have to be laid which are unlikely to be passed by Parliament before the end of February 1996. If passed, elections to form shadow authorities would be held in May and the authorities would come into being in April 1997.