The leader and deputy leader of Gedling Borough Council today vowed to stop any super council takeover that will ‘shift focus away from our residents and local communities’.
Nottinghamshire County council is proposing abolishing Gedling, and all other district and borough councils, in order to create one ‘super council’ for the whole of Nottinghamshire, excluding the city.
The Conservative-led county council said it would streamline council services, and could save between £20 and £30 million a year.
Now, councillors John Clarke and Michael Payne, who are in charge of the Labour-run Gedling Borough Council, have set out why they oppose the idea, in an opinion piece due to be published this week.
Cllr Clarke, who represents Netherfield for Labour, and Councillor Payne, who represents Redhill for Labour, said: “Our duty as leader and deputy leader of Gedling Borough Council is simple – ‘serving people, improving lives’.
“We’re proud of the people and communities we serve in the borough we call home.
“We’ll never apologise for fighting fiercely to stop any and all attempts to scrap Gedling – our residents put their trust and faith in us and in return we’ll always put them first.
“The leader of Nottinghamshire County Council wants to scrap Gedling Borough Council and every other district and borough council in Nottinghamshire to replace them with one ‘super council’ for the whole of our county.
“This is nothing more than a smash and grab on our local assets and services. The county council faces a shortfall of £54 million over the next three years and Councillor Kay Cutts (The Conservative leader of Nottinghamshire County Council) has repeatedly said creating one ‘super council’ for our entire county is the only way to avoid bankruptcy or further severe cuts at the county council she leads.
“At best, this is a smokescreen for a political takeover. At worst, it is disingenuous and far removed from the truth.
“There’s simply no evidence Councillor Cutts’ plan to create a ‘super council’ is the answer to the county council’s financial woes.
“Wiltshire went to ‘one council’ unitary status in 2009 and this year it needs to slash £26 million from its budget.
“Cornwall went to unitary status in 2009 and this year is proposing cutting 338 jobs to deliver another £77 million in savings.
“Likewise, County Durham went to unitary status in 2009 and has cut 2,720 posts and still needs to find another £39 million in savings by 2020.
“The real problem facing Nottinghamshire County Council is the 60p in every £1 central Government will have stripped from councils’ budgets in the ten years leading up to 2020.
“No new Government funding will be allocated to any new council created, so the real risk is the new ‘super council’ would levy you with a council tax bombshell to help clear up the financial mess it would inherit from the existing county council.
“Why should you be asked to pick up the tab for a problem you didn’t create? Why should you be asked to pay even more for even less?
“Currently residents of Ashfield, Bassetlaw, Mansfield and Newark and Sherwood pay more in council tax than residents living in our own borough of Gedling.
“With the equalisation of council tax would be implemented across the new ‘super council’ area this would change – hitting you in the pocket.
“It’s a 60 mile drive from top to bottom of Nottinghamshire county – ask yourself what residents of Arnold have in common with residents of Harworth in the north of our county who live closer to Doncaster than they do to Nottingham.
“We firmly believe decisions about local public services are best made at the most local level by local councillors and councils whose primary focus is their local community.
“Currently Gedling Borough Council only retains nine percent of the total council tax bill each household pays but our prudent financial management means in spite of severe cuts by central Government we’ve managed to continue delivering excellent public services and improvements for local residents.
“It would make much more sense for all the council tax you pay to be spent locally rather than potentially being sent elsewhere across Nottinghamshire to prop up services in communities which may be over an hour’s drive from your front door.
“Working with the people of Gedling borough we’re proud to have created Gedling Country Park; introduced two hours free parking; purchased Arnold Market which had long been neglected by private owners; refurbished our popular Bonington Theatre and Cinema while also prudently managing our finances.
“What level of attention and priority would such issues be given by a ‘super council’ focused on an area covering 830 square miles as opposed to your local Gedling Borough Council responsible for just over 46 square miles.
“The simple fact is – the closer local government is to its citizens, the more likely it is to be able to respond to local needs.
“Our residents deserve better than being told how to run their local affairs by a ‘super council’ whose headquarters could be an hour’s drive from our local community.
“We won’t allow a takeover of Gedling borough that would shift focus away from our residents and local communities.
“That’s why we’re asking all residents and businesses in Gedling borough to respond to the straightforward consultation we’re launching on this issue.
“Every household and business in our borough will receive a copy of this through their letterbox shortly but you can also respond online now by visiting: www.gedling.GOV.UK/yourviewsmatter
“Make your voice heard to stop this ludicrous takeover in its tracks.”