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Taking the "Local" out of Local Government

September 28, 2020 4:42 PM
Originally published by Newark And Sherwood Liberal Democrats

In 2018, faced with a £54million funding shortfall, the Conservatives at County Hall wanted to scrap all seven District and Borough Councils in Nottinghamshire to create a super-Council run from West Bridgford. Following fierce opposition, the idea was quickly dropped. Now, this time with Government support, the scheme has been revived.

Mega Council

The new Council will have to serve more than 809,000 residents making it the second largest authority in England after Birmingham. Most Unitary Councils are a third of the size or smaller. Savings of £20-30 million are promised to tackle the County Council's financial woes. Even if this is achieved it ignores the up-front cost that will cancel out any initial savings.

Coronavirus Costs

The Government has provided the County Councils with £37million to meet extra Coronavirus costs. Despite promising to stand shoulder to shoulder with Councils during the pandemic this only meets a quarter of the extra spending incurred.

Unitary Councils in Cornwall and Wiltshire are facing similar financial difficulties. Over the last ten years the Government has stripped 60p out of every £1 of its funding to Councils.

Instead of supporting massive Council re-organisation, the Government should deliver the extra funding it promised at the start of the pandemic.