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17.11.17

Counties slam ‘secret and underhand’ city council boundary takeover plot

Nottingham and Derby city councils have been accused of “secret and underhand” plans to expand their boundaries without proper consultation with residents or other authorities.

The concerns have come from the leaders of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire county councils, who fear that large areas of both counties could be swallowed up into a new huge authority as part of a ‘unified metropolitan area.’

The planned metro area will be comprised of Amber Valley, Ashfield, Broxtowe, Derby, Erewash, Gedling, Nottingham, Rushcliffe and South Derbyshire.

In the economic case for the Derby-Nottingham Metro, the cities describe the underfunding experienced by the areas. The document said that the region already has some characteristics of a metro area, but that if it started to act as one it would increase its economic benefits and drive more effective inclusive growth across the area.

The report claims that if Derby-Nottingham received the same level of government spending per head as Greater Manchester, its spend per person would increase by £800 – an additional £1.1.bn for the metro.

However, councillors at the two county councils argued that they were only made aware of the plan yesterday – just days before its publication and following “months of work behind the scenes by the cities.”

Cllr Kay Cutts, of Nottinghamshire County Council, has expressed concerns that the city council “wishes to borrow millions of pounds in order to bring their plans to fruition, a most dangerous tactic.”

“This is a bombshell and has come completely out of the blue for the county council, sent to us just a matter of days before its official release,” she added.

Cutts explained that her decision to release the information into the public domain immediately is “in the public interest.” She claimed that there has been no discussion, consultation or suggestion from the city council that this piece of work was being done, despite regular contact with the county council.

“I feel let down – and so should the people of both counties and both cities,” she continued. “Only last week, I sat in the same room as the chief executive of Derby City and the leader of Nottingham City at a D2N2 board meeting discussing a raft of joint economic initiatives, without any mention of this.”

According to Cutts, Nottinghamshire County Council first raised concerns about the plan last September and made multiple requests for more information, clarity and involvement, but she claims that it heard nothing until yesterday.

“Residents living in the county should be alarmed by this plan – and not just because of the underhand way it has been put together or that it has cost £100,000 of public money to commission,” she argued.

“The report highlights that people choose to live in the county because of better educational standards, greater access to services such as libraries, day centres and youth centres and the overall quality of services. This report puts those things at risk for hundreds of thousands of county residents.

“To add insult to injury this report describes Gedling, Rushcliffe and Broxtowe as ‘hinterlands’ – which means ‘the land behind’. Is that what the city thinks about our communities?”

Cutts also said that she fears for areas such as Bassetlaw, Mansfield and Newark and Sherwood, which she says “would be frozen out of this metro fantasy land.”

She called the report “misleading,” with a “flawed argument,” and called for residents to be informed and consulted on the decision to change the county’s boundaries.

“Taxpayers have a right to have a say on any potential change of this magnitude. If the city is serious about taking over vast swathes of our county – turning communities like West Bridgford, Beeston and Hucknall into outer city limits – then the people deserve to know about it and be consulted,” the councillor concluded.

PSE has contacted Nottingham and Derby city councils for comment.

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