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County leader says new unitary council plan makes financial sense

Coun Kay Cutts, Nottinghamshire County Council leader
Coun Kay Cutts, Nottinghamshire County Council leader

Nottinghamshire County Council is developing a business case for replacing the current two-tier system of local government in Nottinghamshire with one new council, responsible for providing all services, writes Coun Kay Cutts, Nottinghamshire County Council leader.

Under current arrangements, district or borough councils provide services such as council housing, bin collections and leisure, while the county council delivers services like adult and children’s social care, schools and highways.

But this means you are effectively paying twice for people to do a similar job.

A unitary council for Nottinghamshire would pool resources and bring together best practice from existing councils.

You would still have local councillors to represent you and locally-based services.

But would mean better services being provided consistently across the whole area and the council estimates it could save up to £30 million a year without impacting services.

Government funding to the council has fallen by almost £100 million over the past five years and will disappear altogether by 2020, leaving a projected budget deficit of £55 million over the next three years.

The savings achievable from forming a unitary authority would make a huge difference.

My own position - and the county council as we know it - would be dissolved under these proposals, so I certainly cannot be accused of acting out of self-interest or of wanting to seize control.

In fact, my support for a unitary council is borne out of my passion for delivering good quality, value-for-money services to Nottinghamshire residents. There are numerous good examples of how unitary councils are working well throughout the country.

The business case we are working up will provide much more clarity about how this system could work for the people of Nottinghamshire.

I look forward to sharing this with you and hearing your views when it is fully developed.