District and borough authorities begin challenge against Nottinghamshire super-council

Gedling council members have emphatically outlined their stance against a potential mega-merger in Nottinghamshire that could see borough and district authorities being scrapped.

Nottinghamshire County Council, who proceeded with a formal business case setting out plans to replace the current two-tier system in the region with a new unitary authority after it was passed last week, would ditch the current seven district and borough councils and bring together all services to create around £20m-£30m in savings each year.

Services under current arrangements such as housing, waste collection, and leisure that are under district/borough council control would be transferred to the new format, where every service would be provided by the same authority.

Despite Nottinghamshire CC’s leader reaffirming her support for the merger last week, yesterday the plans have come under dispute from one district council.

Gedling Borough councillors voted in favour of a motion which opposes Nottinghamshire CC’s plans to abolish the current structure at the authority’s Full Council meeting, and called on Nottinghamshire’s leader Kay Cutts to “re-engage with leaders of all councils, work transparently and to lobby central government for fairer funding in the region instead of attempting to redraw council boundaries.”

Deputy leader of the Labour-controlled Gedling Borough Council, councillor Michael Payne, said: “This is an unwelcome and disappointing distraction at a time when councils are tirelessly working to make sure local residents are getting their local services delivered to them at a high standard. The Leader of the County Council, Councillor Cutts has failed to ask local residents for their views and has herself accepted that there’s currently no business case for it. 

“We strongly oppose this ill-timed, half-cooked and sloppy proposal and we call on all Gedling Borough Councillors to do the same at Full Council on Wednesday.

“Our residents don't want the risk of their council tax being sent out of Gedling and spent elsewhere. They want a local council that puts Gedling first - we will defend Gedling from this ridiculous, ill-thought-through attempt at a takeover.”

In a scathing statement against the plans, Payne went on to say that Conservative councillors should “hang their heads in shame” if they were to vote in favour of the plans whilst liaising with colleagues whose jobs they had just voted to cut.

He said: “I hope you hang your heads in shame when you go and speak to your caseworkers who are helping you day to day, whose jobs you just voted to cut. I await to see all the Conservative candidates in May at the next election standing for a council they want to scrap.

“We will fight this plan every step of the way. We will not allow the Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council to use the residents of Gedling as pawns on a chess board. If [Cllr Cutts] truly believes that the people want to scrap their local councils and replace them with one super council for Nottinghamshire she should give them a vote and let them have their say on the issue."

Last night’s motion follows a joint letter sent to the Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, Councillor Cutts, signed by five district and borough councils, that questions her decision to bring her motion for a single unitary council for Nottinghamshire to County Councillors calling it ‘flawed and inappropriate at such a significant time for the region’.

The letter signed by the Leaders of Ashfield District Council, Bassetlaw District Council, Gedling Borough Council, Mansfield District Council and Rushcliffe Borough Council was sent to Councillor Cutts on 9 July asking her to withdraw the motion presented at Nottinghamshire County Council on Thursday 12 July.

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Image credit: SAKhanPhotography, iStock images


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