Gedling Borough Council leader Cllr John Clarke was one of eight council bosses in Nottinghamshire to have today expressed their opposition to Nottinghamshire County Council’s plan to set up a super council to cover all of Nottinghamshire outside of the city.
It means all top level councils in Nottinghamshire, apart from the county council, are opposed to the plan, which if it went ahead would make Notts the second largest council in the UK.
In a rare show of unity, the leaders of all seven district and borough councils, and the city council, – including Labour, Conservative, Independent and coalition controlled councils – have come together to oppose the county council’s plan.
The joint letter is strongly critical both of the proposal itself and the way it has been managed, and will now be sent to the Government.
It represents the strongest opposition so far to the county council’s plan.
Despite this, the county council intends to press ahead, and is expected next week to write its own letter to the Government asking for its scheme to progress to the next phase.
The county council has declined to comment on the letter from the eight councils.
The council also plans to spend £100,000 on developing the plans, in addition to the £250,000 it spent on consultancy fees before the scheme was shelved last time in 2018.
The Government has previously said a broad level of support would be required for schemes to go ahead, but new rules for local government reorganisation (LGR) are expected imminently.
It is not known whether the broad level of support clause will remain in the Government’s plan, or whether councils will be allowed to press ahead without broad support.
The county council has been approached to comment on the letter opposing its plan.
The joint letter was signed by the leaders of:
Ashfield District Council, Ashfield Independent controlled
Bassetlaw District Council, Labour Controlled
Broxtowe Borough Council, District Council, Coalition Controlled
Gedling Borough Council, Labour Controlled
The Mayor of Mansfield, Labour
Newark and Sherwood District Council, Conservative Controlled
Nottingham City Council, Labour Controlled
Rushcliffe Borough Council, Conservative Controlled
It reads: “Our localities are very different, and the political leadership of our councils is very different, and yet we are united in our opposition to a single unitary council being the only option on the table.
“Nottinghamshire County Council has developed its proposal in isolation.
“It has not attempted to engage with us on any alternative options and has failed to demonstrate an open mind to any option other than the one that preserves and enhances its own identities and responsibilities.
“A single unitary council for Nottinghamshire would attempt to serve 828,000 people.
“This is way beyond the acceptable size threshold that you have articulated and that we expect to be confirmed in the forthcoming white paper.
“Only Birmingham City Council would represent more people.
“Scale can deliver economies, but too big breeds bureaucracy and inflexibility.
“Nottinghamshire County Council is already a very large organisation that struggles to react swiftly and responsively to local needs.
“Each of us has examples in our areas where economic growth and public service delivery are being frustrated and thwarted because the county council is remote from the communities that it serves and is too cumbersome to move quickly.
“Disregarding the existence of Nottingham City and its role within the conurbation and beyond would be a fundamental mistake.
“A genuine commitment to levelling up the prosperity of our county and city requires at the very least a consideration of options that include Nottingham City.
“We strongly reject Nottinghamshire County Council’s rush to beat a deadline to suspend the 2021 county elections.
“This is no basis on which to re-design the governance of local services.
“Our residents deserve so much better.
“If we’re hurried into a response that is driven by a dash to meet an election deadline, taxpayers’ money will be wasted on an adversarial process as we pull apart the county’s case and consider our legal position.”
Nottinghamshire County Council declined to comment.