Local government set for historic new chapter - The Leamington Observer

Local government set for historic new chapter

LOCAL government in the area is set for an historic new chapter.

Stratford and Warwick district council’s respective ruling cabinets will meet on Thursday to consider a detailed report before deciding whether to recommend merging to form a new single South Warwickshire Council.

A recommendation will be made by both cabinets separately, either to go-ahead or abandon the proposal. The decisions will then be considered by both full councils on Monday (December 13).

If it gets the green-light from the councils, and the business case is agreed by the Secretary of State, the aim would be to create a South Warwickshire Council by April 2024.

The new authority would carry out services such as waste collection, planning, housing, management of parks and sports facilities, licensing, business support and environmental health – currently delivered separately by the two authorities.

Government funding for councils across the country has reduced in recent years leaving them facing uncertain and challenging financial futures.

It has been estimated that combined, the currently Conservative-controlled Stratford and Warwick councils face a shortfall of around £9million a year.

Residents in both districts have had the chance to give their views in public consultations.

The respective leaders view the merger as the only realistic option to save cash and preserve services.

Warwick District Council (WDC) leader Andrew Day said both councils faced financial challenges and needed to find solutions.

He added: “This independent consultation report provides councillors with a balanced and comprehensive view on the hopes and aspirations for our local government across South Warwickshire in the future.

“Councillors now have all the information required, including insightful comments and suggestions gathered by the survey, to make their historic decision on the shape of local government in South Warwickshire for the next 50 years.”

Stratford District Council leader Tony Jefferson echoed the financial challenges facing both authorities and said it was important to consider the positive opportunities a South Warwickshire Council would bring.

He added: “This is probably the most significant decision that either council has had to consider since they were established in 1974.

“We have to take this decision recognising that the world has changed massively since 1974. It is now up to us to make the right decision based on the information presented to us.”

Coun Alan Boad, WDC Lib-Dem group leader, added he would want assurance that new council was better placed to secure the medium and long term viability of the services provided to both Warwick and Stratford district taxpayers.

Coun Boad said: “We want to see a local council that is fit for purpose in the 21st century and that recognises that local government works best when it works in partnership with other public bodies, and with local residents and businesses.”

But there is opposition to the move – most notably from Warwick and Leamington Labour MP Matt Western.

Mr Western has called for a referendum on whether to pursue the merger or to consider alternative options

He also fears the merger could lead to everything from increased homelessness to new green bin charges.

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