High response to '˜super council' consultation

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With one week left to go until the first part of the consultation closes, Nottinghamshire County Council is urging people to make their views known.

The plan, which has been put forward by the Conservative-run county council, would see all seven district and borough councils, and the county council itself, abolished.

One, or two new ‘super councils’ would then be set up, covering all of Nottinghamshire (apart from Nottingham City) or there would be one for the North and one for the South of the county.

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The leader of the council, Conservative Kay Cutts, says this would significantly improve council services by removing duplication, and could save around £20 to £30 million a year, which would help protect front-line services.

The leader of Nottinghamshire County Council Kay CuttsThe leader of Nottinghamshire County Council Kay Cutts
The leader of Nottinghamshire County Council Kay Cutts

But critics, including Labour and many of the district councils, say it would erode local decision making and leave people feeling removed from their communities.

Throughout October, an independent social research company, ORS is working on behalf of the county council to gather the views of residents, businesses, councils and other interested parties.

Almost 1,600 responses have already been received to a questionnaire – significantly higher than the county council anticipated.

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The council will consider responses to this first phase of public engagement at a full council meeting on December 13, when they will decide whether or not to pursue a preferred option for change.

If the council goes ahead with the super council proposal, it would then formally consult the public on the proposal next year.

Coun Cutts said: “Aside from Nottingham City Council’s switch to a unitary council system in 1998, the current structure of local government has been unchanged since 1974.

“Although this is being driven by the financial predicament local councils are in, it is a conversation we should have been having anyway.

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“There have been substantial reductions in the funding we receive to provide services, combined with increasing demand for our social care services.

“This means we face the prospect of huge cuts to frontline services and increases in council tax, every year – unless there is a change in the way we operate.

“A change to a unitary system would bring Nottinghamshire into line with most areas of the UK and appears to be a sustainable alternative to the unpalatable cuts we are facing.

“It would certainly improve services, make them more streamlined and more accessible for our residents.

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“Through the public engagement we are open to listening to other options and I would encourage those that oppose change to engage with us and bring forward viable, alternative options which address the £54m budget gap.

“If you haven’t already taken part in the initial public engagement, I would urge you to do so.

“Local government services affect us all, so this is a very important conversation. Please read the Future Nottinghamshire document which sets out the current position and let us know your views.”

The questionnaire will be available to complete online at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/futurenotts or in hard copy format at all libraries until October 31.