THE leader of Torridge District Council has been accused of going "lukewarm" over the idea of a joint local authority with North Devon.
Phil Collins appeared at a full meeting of North Devon Council last Wednesday to give a report on joint working with Torridge.
He stated that North Devon was Torridge's "natural partner" but said a joint council between the two areas was "not on the cards".
"Maybe in the future it will be," he said, "but I think we can get our visions blurred by looking at too many things and we need to focus somewhat."
Mr Collins said the two authorities already shared a lot of services.
"We haven't been going out long enough to take it much further so let's keep dating," he summarised.
Des Brailey, leader of the Conservative opposition party at North Devon, responded: "Your colleagues over in Torridge said you are exceptionally keen on joint working, but you seem to have gone lukewarm."
Mr Collins said a collaboration would need to benefit both parties. "We are hurting at the moment in legal," he said. "We are getting a lot of complaints. In my opinion shared services will not get us to the financial situation we want."
He said Torridge is looking to work closer with other authorities including South Hams and West Devon.
He added: "It is a thought among other councillors that unitary is probably coming around the corner in one guise or another."
North Devon leader Brian Greenslade said: "Because of the pressure both councils are under I don't think it's possible to commit to a formal programme to bring us together."