Unitary report for Rushton-backed Leicestershire County Council drawn up

A new report sets out the options for a potential restructuring of local government in Leicestershire, which shows there is “a strong case” for a single unitary council, according to Leicestershire County Council leader Nick Rushton.

The paper, released today by Leicestershire CC, outlines the financial challenges facing the county and assesses potential different unitary structures.

In June, Cllr Rushton outlined plans to abolish the existing seven district/borough councils and merge them together with Leicestershire County Council to become a single unitary authority. The council leader argued that the unitary council would save £30m a year. However, the district/borough councils urged Leicestershire CC to halt proposals in September, labelling them “unreasonable.”

The report says that a single council would save £30m a year; whilst a two-council option would save £18m a year. It’s estimated that £62m in savings are needed across the county and district councils up to 2022.

The report also noted that a unitary structure could bring improvements for residents and businesses by joining up services and reducing council costs, create the option of reducing council tax, and reduce the number of councillors but strengthen their role, amongst other advantages for locals.

Now, the county council plans to engage with MPs, district councils, parish and town councils, businesses, universities, the voluntary sector, and other stakeholders.

A cross-party working group aimed at providing advice and challenging and giving feedback on proposals is being set up and is due to feedback to cabinet next spring. Dependent on the outcome of this engagement, a public consultation could follow in the summer.

Cllr Rushton described the financial situation facing councils as “bleak.”

“Across Leicestershire, local government is facing millions of pounds of savings, meaning we simply can’t go on paying for old fashioned bureaucracy and duplication,” he added.

“This would be the biggest shake-up locally for almost 50 years. And that means working together with councillors and other stakeholders to draw up a new structure, fit for the 21st century, and I look forward to hearing their views.”

The report will be considered by the Cabinet on 16 October.

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