Residents and organisations across Warwickshire are to be asked how they would like the county to be run in the lead up to a massive Government shake-up of local politics.
The Government is publishing a White Paper next month in the biggest re-organisation of local government in almost 50 years.
The five – Stratford and Warwick District Councils and North Warwickshire, Nuneaton and Bedworth, and Rugby Borough Councils – have commissioned a study looking at options for the future of the area and will then put those choices to a cross section of residents, businesses and organisations.
The five councils – who are responsible for areas such as housing and planning, street cleaning, refuse collection, environmental health and leisure provision – are opposed to Warwickshire County Council opting for one unitary authority for the whole of the county without consultation with local residents, the business community or other councils.
In a joint statement, the five leaders have said that it is vital that local people have a say in how they wished the county to be run but stressed the need for change.
They said: “We live in a democracy and we are talking about the biggest shake-up in half a century so it would be totally wrong for any changes just to be pushed through without any feedback from residents, business and partner organisations.
“We all believe that local accountability and responsibility is vital – and never has that been more evident than during the current Coronavirus pandemic when local councils have been able to respond to very local needs from residents and businesses.
“We clearly believe in the need to maintain that local element but also understand that reform is not only inevitable but also necessary as we are working on a model set in the 1970s when the world was a vastly different place.
“However, that does not mean that all that is good in local government is simply wiped away in a power grab which – we believe – does not serve the area well. We may represent different political parties but we are totally united in this and have made our views known to our local MPs.
“Councils at all levels across Warwickshire only exist to serve the interests of local residents and to deliver high quality services at the best possible value.”
The councils are due to start their survey in September.
Photo: Sebastian Lowe (Rugby Borough Council), Tony Jefferson (Stratford-on-Avon District Council), Julie Jackson (Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council), Andrew Day (Warwick District Council), David Humphreys (deputy leader North Warwickshire).