Leaked plans show the seven different options currently being investigated for the future of how Nottinghamshire’s councils are run, and even whether some exist at all.
The Conservative-run Nottinghamshire County Council is working on a plan to abolish itself, as well as all district and borough councils such as Rushcliffe, Gedling and Broxtowe.
It would then create a brand new council, or two new councils, which would cover all of Nottinghamshire apart from the city.
The key supporter of the scheme is the leader of the county council, Conservative councillor Kay Cutts.
She says it could streamline and simplify council services, and save as much as £20 million to £30 million a year, which could then be invested in front-line services.
But vocal critics, including the leaders of several district and borough councils which could be dissolved, have said they will fight to protect their councils.
They say it would remove local decision making and end up costing more in the long-run.
Nottingham City Council has also retaliated to the county council’s plan, saying it would submit its own bid to the Government to expand the boundaries of the city into parts of West Bridgford, Stapleford, Beeston, Arnold and Carlton.
It said the current city boundaries are too small, and the crisis in local government funding which has led to the calls for council re-organisation has been caused by cuts from the central Conservative Government.
Now, leaked documents have revealed there are seven different options being debated by the county council.
The documents were discussed at a meeting which the media was denied access to.
None of the county council’s plans take an expanded city into account.
Cllr Cutts, who represents the Radcliffe-on-Trent ward for the Conservatives said: “Our working group is looking in detail at all options for better local government in Nottinghamshire.
“It’s clear we can give the best value-for-money, be more accountable to local people and improve services with a unitary system.
“By replacing eight senior management teams with one, reducing the number of councillors and having one point of contact we can make significant savings, end confusion and ensure you get the best services, no matter where you live in the county.
“We look forward to sharing our business case with local people when it is fully developed.”
The seven options:
Option One – preserve the status quo.
Keep with seven district and borough councils, and the county and city councils.
Option Two – One unitary authority for Nottinghamshire.
It would have a population of around 817,000. The headquarters would likely be County Hall, in West Bridgford, and it could be called simply Nottinghamshire Council.
Option Three – Divide the county into two unitary councils (north and south)
In the north would be Ashfield, Bassetlaw, Mansfield and Newark and Sherwood. This would have a population of 472,000.
In the south, with a population of 345,000, would be Broxtowe, Gedling and Rushcliffe.
Option Four – Divide the county into two unitary councils (north and south)
In the north would be Bassetlaw, Mansfield and Newark and Sherwood, with a population of 345,000.
In the south would be Ashfield, Broxtowe, Gedling and Rushcliffe, with a population of 472,000.
Option Five – Divide the county into two unitary councils (east and west)
Bassetlaw, Newark and Sherwood, and Rushcliffe would be in the east, with a population of 353,000.
Ashfield, Broxtowe, Gedling and Mansfield would be in the west, with a population of 464,000.
Option Six – Divide the country into two unitary councils (urban/rural mix to roughly equalise population density)
The north west would have Ashfield, Bassetlaw and Mansfield, with 351,000 people.
The south east would have Broxtowe, Gedling, Newark and Sherwood, and Rushcliffe. This would have 466,000 residents.
Option Seven – Two unitary councils
This would see Ashfield, Broxtowe and Mansfield in one area and Bassetlaw, Gedling, Newark and Sherwood and Rushcliffe in the other.
Leader of Gedling Borough Council, Cllr John Clarke said he had no interest in pursuing any of the leaked options.
He said: “We want nothing to do with it. We’ve already seen £270,000 spent, plus a huge amount of office time.
“We’re fighting for Gedling. We have had so much response to it from right across the board – people who have never voted Labour in their lives are saying they support us on it. No one wants it. People want councils to stay local.”
How can a new council be created?
Under Government regulations, a new council area has to have at least 300,000 residents.
It also has to have ‘co-terminus boundaries’, meaning the districts or boroughs have to currently share a border. This is to avoid creating ‘doughnut options’.
There is some dispute over whether the new councils have to be based on current district and borough council boundaries. The county council states they do, but the city council believes they do not, and that its proposal would still be considered by the Government.
They also need to maintain ‘reasonable levels’ of population density.