Plans put forward by the Conservative-run Nottinghamshire County Council would involve dissolving all district and borough councils, and the county council itself, and setting up one or two ‘super councils’ covering all of the county, excluding the city.
But now, the Labour-run city council has called the super-council plan “incomplete” and a “huge missed opportunity”.
It said the plan has ignored the city altogether, and that Nottingham is already disadvantaged by having among the tightest boundaries of any city in the country.
The county’s proposals would compound this problem by creating a super-council that boxes in the city, according to the city council.
The leader of the city council, Jon Collins, has previously said he thinks the city’s boundaries should include parts of West Bridgford, Stapleford, Gedling, and Arnold.
The city council was responding to the county council’s consultation on setting up a ‘super council’, which ends this week.
Supporters of the super council plan say it could save around £20 to £30 million a year, streamline council services and protect front-line spending.
Currently, the city council says less than half (48.7 percent) of those who work in the city also live in the city – significantly less than for other comparable cities such as Sheffield (75.7 percent) and Leeds (70.5 percent.)
It argues many people from outside the city make use of city services and its infrastructure and enjoy it as a destination for leisure, entertainment and shopping.
But their council tax doesn’t contribute to funding the city services they use regularly and they are not in a position to hold Nottingham’s decision makers to account for choices made in the city that can significantly affect their daily lives.
The city council argues that including an expanded city would bring benefits for the whole area – pointing to Government acknowledgement that it is thriving cities which increasingly drive the country’s economy and that of the areas surrounding them.
It said many areas outside the current city council boundaries are recognisably part of the urban conurbation and are places where many people who work in Nottingham live.
Any new unitary authority – which would have transport, infrastructure and economic responsibilities – should reflect those boundaries which are the norm for the vast majority of the rest of the country and the world, the council said.
Councillor Jon Collins is the leader of the city council, and represents the St Ann’s ward for Labour.
He said: “We don’t think local government reorganisation is a good thing to happen now or the most pressing thing in local government. But we do think that if the county council wants to press ahead with its proposals for a unitary council surrounding the city, then it should absolutely be considering the future role and size of the city.
“The existing boundary between Nottingham and Nottinghamshire is an nonsensical anomaly from the 1998 local government reorganisation, leaving Nottingham at a disadvantage over other cities.
“Any local government reorganisation needs to be sustainable and future-proof and that should include a single council that serves the whole of urban Nottingham.
“Proposals based only on the county boundary would stifle Nottingham and Nottinghamshire’s potential growth and reduce accountability for city services.
“A new large county unitary’s focus would be diluted if it was trying to deliver services to former coalfields and growing market towns as well as fulfilling metropolitan duties in an arbitrary ring around Nottingham.”
People can have their say on the super council plan here: http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/local/future-nottinghamshire