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25.09.18

Nottinghamshire leader hits back: ‘We’re the most transparent and open council there is’

The leader of Nottinghamshire County Council has hit back against claims that the authority lacks transparency, claiming that the council is “the most open and transparent council there is.”

Cllr Kay Cutts, in an interview with PSE yesterday, responded to calls from the deputy leader of Gedling Borough Council in July that the leader should “work transparently” and lobby Whitehall for fairer funding instead of looking to reorganise the local government structure in the area.

She is supporting a business case that is being formulated for the region’s current two-tier structure – of seven district and borough councils, and one county council – to be merged into one unitary council. The move will reportedly lead to up to £28m in savings and help make some headway into the £54m savings target that Nottinghamshire needs to meet.

However, in July a joint letter signed by five district and borough councils was sent to Cllr Cutts questioning her decision to bring in the motion for a unitary council, calling it “flawed and inappropriate at such a significant time for the region.” Gedling Borough Council, one of the authorities which signed the letter, called on Cllr Cutts re-engage and work transparently with leaders of all affected by the proposals.

But the Nottinghamshire County Council leader said: “I have met with leaders of other councils except for Ashfield District Council who cancelled at the last minute, and Gedling Borough Council who refused to meet with me.

“The leader and deputy leader of Gedling are both county councillors—they’re refusing to meet with me. I have met with all other districts and we’ve had a fair exchange; I have to say it’s all been delivered on a proper and friendly basis because we all know each other.”

Cllr Cutts also noted that the council runs a committee system where all members can “go along and have their say.”

“I think we are the most open and transparent council there is,” the leader added.

When responding to calls for more openness towards district and borough councils, Cllr Cutts said: “Wouldn’t it have been nice if they had told me that? Instead of writing a letter to somebody? The councils they have refused to meet with me, which I think is quite ridiculous and disappointing.

“I can’t see how I’m refusing to allow people to have their say as I’m holding an open consultation by a separate organisation with a good reputation. I’m being as open and transparent as I can possibly be— I can’t foretell what the result is— all I do know is that we have to find £54m in savings.

“In order to do that, unless we get some change, we are going to have to cut the services that people receive – which nobody wants to do, and I don’t want to do either.”

A public consultation on the proposals will be conducted in December, and a final decision will be made in May.

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Image credit: Nottinghamshire County Council

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