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9th Dec, 2021

Health concerns raised over council merger plans

CAMPAIGNERS fear health services could suffer if plans to merge Warwick and Stratford district councils go ahead.

Both district councils want to create a single South Warwickshire Council and merge services such as waste collection, planning, housing, management of parks and sports facilities, licensing, business support and environmental health.

It follows an independent report which found a ‘strong strategic, economic, financial and operational case for merging’ including estimated financial losses of around £4-6million per year by 2025.

But South Warwickshire Keep our NHS Public said the merger ‘made no sense’ since the districts had ‘different populations, circumstances and needs’.

Lead campaigner Anna Pollert told The Observer: “This plan, if it takes place, will reduce the number of councillors and therefore diminish local accountability.

“For our work to defend the NHS, the role of councillors to scrutinise health plans is crucial. Most NHS scrutiny is at county council level. However, our district councillors have an important role to play too.”

She believes a merger of the district councils would add to a ‘trend of increased centralisation and result in a loss of accountability.

She added: “The merger that would make sense is between Warwickshire County Council (WCC) and Warwick District Council.

“WCC has the Adult Social Care and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and this, of course, has direct relevance for NHS policies and plans.

“Any merger between Stratford and Warwick district councils would make a WCC and Warwick District Council merger impossible to implement.”

In response, a spokeswoman for Warwick District Council pointed out health and social care fell under WCC and would not be affected by a merger.

She added any health services WDC delivered as part of their current service provision such as housing would remain the same.

The Observer has also asked Stratford District Council for a comment.

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