WENDY Nichols, regional convenor of UNISON, is quite right ('Trade union says it will fight any cuts', Craven Herald, September 3).

Just what sort of government decides to undertake a wholesale restructuring of local government in North Yorkshire and elsewhere, when we are midway through the worst health emergency in living memory?

Did they think that was a good time to bury bad news?

Coming at this moment it is really bad news for the councils in North Yorkshire and elsewhere who are financially struggling to deliver essential services and respond to the Covid-19 emergency, which will not be defeated until a vaccine is available.

And that’s on top of 10 years of financial cuts which have reduced staffing levels and our services. Add to this further financial hits to our councils from the loss of income during the lockdown and huge bills incurred combating Covid-19.

In November 2019 the TUC revealed that councils in Yorkshire and the Humber were spending £850 million a year less than in 2010 on key local services such as social care, waste management, libraries and transport.

Any responsible government would have put ideas of wholesale reorganisation on hold until the health emergency was over and then given local authorities and the public a realistic timetable to consider options.

Instead we are coming to the end of a rushed consultation, with councils divided over the way forward and most of the public painfully unaware of what’s coming and how it will impact on their services and the democratic accountability of those who provide them.

At this critical time, people are still worried about the impact of Covid-19 on their lives, their health, jobs, employment prospects and income. The future administration of our public services is just not on their radar.

Although this government is ‘for turning’, I doubt they will on this one.

The public has been sidelined and councils are busy trying to sort out some kind of new structure fearing that if they don’t Whitehall ‘will know best’ and impose a solution.

UNISON is right to fight for their members’ jobs because in so doing they are fighting to defend the very services we need.

As for the rest, newspaper headlines like ‘Councils fighting a 'civil war' – chairman’ (Craven Herald, September 3) do not inspire public confidence.

It’s time for our local political leaders to put the public interest first.

They can do this by standing up to government, and not be pushed around by them.

Any reorganised local government must have the resources to provide us with the wide ranging public services that we need, promote the principles of ‘localism’ by giving people more power to make decisions on matters that affect their communities, and strengthen democratic accountability and control over those who are elected to run whatever local government structures we end up with.

Barry White, Settle