National and Devolved Politics

11.07.18

Nottinghamshire leader reaffirms support for unitary authority merger

Article by Callum Wood of Public Sector Magazine

The leader of Nottinghamshire County Council is backing plans for the authority to provide unitary services, moving on from its current two-tier structure.

The authority is set to debate proposals tomorrow to create a ‘super council’ that would abolish the current structure of seven districts/boroughs within Nottinghamshire County Council.

The leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, Kay Cutts, supports the notion of a unitary county council and believes it will provide a “proactive solution to the city’s current financial challenges.” She added that she aims to get on with the plans “as soon as possible.”

Set to discuss the proposals tomorrow, the council’s agenda paper said: “This council acknowledges that historically, the East Midlands has not received its fair share of funding from the government, and therefore welcomes any efforts to form a strategic alliance with the region’s county councils and our region’s three cities to improve this situation.”

It added: “This council values localism and believes that any discussion involving the secretary of state regarding future democratic arrangements in the East Midlands should be done with residents in mind.”

The proposals will pool all existing services in Nottinghamshire together and release between £20m-£30m of public money annually, which is currently tied up in bureaucracy, the council’s agenda noted.

City council leader Jon Collins, said: “While unitary local government may make sense in the long term, we don’t see it as the answer to the gross underfunding of local government by central government which has seen Nottingham’s Revenue Support Grant cut from £127 million in 2013 to just £25m next year.’’

The proposals will bring all council services in Nottinghamshire together under one roof, removing duplication and requiring fewer buildings, which would also deliver capital receipts for reinvestment by disposing of surplus property.

The plans took into account of growing demand for adult social care and said the unitary council will provide a “proactive solution” to the current budget challenges facing the county, and protect vital services such as adult social care without having to implement steep increases in council tax and other charges.

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