A survey has shown that more than 90 percent of people in Gedling borough were in favour of keeping their local council, rather than scrapping it and replacing it with a ‘super council’ for all of the county.
The Conservative-led county council proposed to scrap all seven district and borough councils, and the county council, and replace them with one single authority for the whole of Nottinghamshire.
Supporters say it could save £27 million a year, and would help streamline services.
But opponents, including the Labour-run Gedling Borough Council, said it would erode local decision making, and could cost a large amount to set up.
The plan has now been shelved.
Last year, Gedling Borough Council sent a survey to every household and business in Gedling, after the county council also held its own informal consultation.
The Gedling questionnaire received 9,364 responses. The county council’s online questionnaire received 2,926 responses.
In Gedling, people were asked one question – “Do you want Gedling Borough Council to be abolished and replaced with a larger council that is responsible for your local services and makes decisions for the whole county area?”
A total of 91 percent said ‘no’, seven percent said ‘yes’, and two percent said they were unsure.
Labour councillors have said the result shows widespread opposition to the ‘super council’ plan.
But the leader of the Conservatives at Gedling Borough Council have said the question was biased, and designed to get the answer they wanted.
Councillor John Clarke, leader of Gedling Borough Council who represents the Netherfield ward for Labour, said: “It’s a huge response, there are around 800,000 people in Notts and 117,000 in Gedling, so it doesn’t take a mathematician to work out that we got a much higher return.
“It backs up what we have been picking up socially and on the doorsteps, which is that people are proud of Gedling, they’re proud of what we’ve done, and that this plan goes too far.
“People are averse to change, so many things have gone digital so even for a general enquiry you have to have so many IDs and passwords.
“But you can drop into our council very easily, and people know that.
“Councillors are well known here, regardless of what party they’re from, and most of them work very hard, and people know that and appreciate that.
“We do need to continue to work together (with other councils), to look at all the areas we can work together.
The council leader was asked about the accusation that the survey was biased in the way it asked the question.
Councillor Clarke said: “Nothing would make the Tories’ day more than if Gedling disappeared altogether. They have consistently voted for that at the county council and at our council, again and again.
Councillor Clarke said results of the survey would be sent to the leaders of Nottinghamshire County Council and Nottingham City Council.
Asked whether he thought the super council plan had gone away permanently, councillor Clarke said: “It’s dormant. It’s not going to go away completely for a while, so we’ll stay vigilant and continue to fight for Gedling.”
Councillor Chris Barnfather, the leader of the Conservative group, and represents the Newstead Abbey ward.
He said: “I’m not in the least bit surprised that the ‘survey’ has returned this result, given the biased way in which the question was presented, following a long preamble in support of retaining the current system and dire warnings of the loss of services and (wrongly) an inferred increase in council tax.
“When you provide the answer, then ask the question, you are only ever likely to get one result – a meaningless one. Gedling taxpayers should feel aggrieved that they have had to foot the bill for this pointless exercise.
“Unlike the totally independent county council consultation, the Gedling survey was directly prepared by senior administration councillors and officers of the borough council, the very people who could lose their highly paid positions if the council is scrapped.
“There is a compelling argument for constructive change and the selfish and irresponsible case for protecting the jobs of senior councillors and council executives, while important frontline services are at risk, is an increasingly difficult one to make.”