SWINDON Council has decided to opt out of plans to support Wiltshire County Council's unitary bid.

A unanimous decision by councillors was reached within 27 minutes at an extraordinary council meeting at the Civic Offices tonight.

It followed Wiltshire County Council's proposals for a unitary Wiltshire to replace the present district-controlled councils in the county.

The county council wants to abolish the four district councils - North Wiltshire, Kennet, West Wiltshire and Salisbury - and take over full control of the whole area.

Swindon Council leader Rod Bluh said he could not support the plans if none of the district councils backed the plans.

He told the meeting: "We believe for the Wiltshire proposal to be supported, it must demonstrate that it will provide efficient local services and effective local democracy.

"Swindon Borough Council notes that none of the four district councils in Wiltshire support the proposed new unitary authority.

"In considering the Wiltshire proposal, Swindon Borough Council believes that the disparate size of the proposed new unitary authority versus Swindon will cause pressure on resources and make it very difficult for Swindon to deliver the Government's growth agenda in a coherent way.

"On balance Swindon Borough Council is unable to support the Wiltshire bid."

Under the plans, Swindon would have remained a separate body and could have extended its boundaries to the north and south, but this now appears unlikely.

The Wiltshire unitary authority would be the largest of its kind in the country if given the go-ahead.

The Government invited councils to apply for the chance to become unitary bodies at the start of the year.

Wiltshire was one of 26 applications nationwide, 16 of which went forward to the consultation stage.

If the plans had gone ahead, the district and county councils would have been replaced by the new council by 2009.

That would mean a reduction from the current 244 district and county councillors to just 98.

Coun Nick Martin, Swindon's cabinet member for resources, seconded the motion carried forward tonight.

He said: "We do not support this. If it is not in the strategic interests of Swindon then we will not support such proposals.

"How would councillors be able to keep in touch with their electorate if the number of councillors is significantly reduced due to this change?

"The amalgamation of Wiltshire would be to our disadvantage."

Swindon's Labour group leader, Kevin Small, said: "There is no strong need for boundary changes. We will be supporting the administration's proposals."

The plans may also have meant cuts in the top management of each council with the current five chief executives and management teams reduced to only one.