Latest Public Sector News

15.10.19

Blueprint for single unitary Leicestershire council published

Detailed proposals for creating a single unitary council covering the whole of Leicestershire, and abolishing the county’s seven district authorities, have been published.

The 100-page draft blueprint compares the different options for a major restructuring of local government in the county, and concludes that the creation of a single unitary authority “offers the best opportunity to save money, reduce duplication and protect front line services.”

It is estimated that bringing together the eight county and district councils into one unitary council would save £30m each year.

The idea was first proposed by the leader of Leicestershire County Council, Nick Rushton, in June last year when he said he wanted to “start a conversation” about redrawing local government in the county.

In a statement from the council accompanying the 100-page roadmap, Rushton said: “In my view, unitary local government works. Creating a council fit for the 21st century would save £30m a year, improve services, reduce confusion and duplication and get a better deal for our residents.”

An independent review of the draft strategic business case said the blueprint represents a “sound basis for presenting potential savings and planning next steps.”

READ MORE: Unitary report for Rushton-backed Leicestershire County Council drawn up

The document will now be discussed by the county council on 22 October, and will then be considered for approval by the Scrutiny Commission, cabinet and full county council in the coming months.

Rushton added: “Local government still faces severe, long-term financial challenges – and these are likely to get worse since the Government is having to delay its fair funding review.

 “Add in the backdrop of national uncertainty, and that’s why we need to be ready for a new Government and a new domestic policy agenda, particularly if it continues to be dominated by tackling the shortage of funding for local services.

“I look forward to hearing the views of the Scrutiny Commission and hope that in December, the county council can agree a settled position.”

The move to a single unitary authority for Leicestershire has been far from popular amongst the region’s district councils, however.

In September, the leaders of all seven district authorities released a joint statement asking Rushton to drop his bid for a unitary council and instead look at a more collaborative approach to reorganisation.

And in a joint statement responding to the release of the latest blueprint, they said: “The seven district councils in Leicestershire continue to work collaboratively to deliver highly-effective and efficient services to residents.

“It is our view that better and cheaper services can be delivered through greater collaboration while keeping services local to the people who use them.

“There is an open invitation to the county council to work with us on ideas for future collaboration.”

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