MP demands referendum on councils' merger plans - The Leamington Observer

MP demands referendum on councils' merger plans

Leamington Editorial 10th Nov, 2021   0

MP Matt Western is demanding a referendum on Warwick and Stratford district council’s plans to merge.

The Warwick and Leamington MP wants residents to have the final say on the structure of regional government amid the plans to form a South Warwickshire Council.

Mr Western has gained nearly 700 signatures for his petition against the formation of a South Warwickshire ‘Mega-Council.’

Proposals submitted to government would see the merger of the Conservative-run Warwick and Stratford district councils.

Mr Western’s petition calls for a citizens’ assembly to decide the options on the ballot paper for a district-wide referendum on models of future regional governance.

If the plan submitted by the two districts is approved by government, the number of councillors serving residents in south Warwickshire would be cut from 80 to 60.

The plans were approved in principle in February by councillors from both authorities, with an agreement to work towards its formation by 2024.

Mr Western has called on Warwick District Council to set up and advertise a citizens’ assembly.

He says the assembly would bring together selected residents, covering every demographic, and it would decide on the referendum questions and forms of future local authorities featured on the ballot paper.

Mr Western said: “The public has not been fully informed about the merger and many do not yet know how the changes will severely damage local democracy.

“Residents need to feel more connected and not detached from political decision-making.

“We need councils that are more in touch with residents, not larger more distant ones.

“It could mean it is more likely a councillor from Alcester making decisions on behalf of residents from Woodloes or Whitnash.

“Therefore, I am now demanding that we put it to the people and stage a referendum to have the final say on whether to pursue the plans – in honour of truly democratic values.

“Warwick District Council was prepared to stage a referendum to decide whether to adopt a climate change levy in Spring 2020 – and now it must allow the same for the Mega-Council proposal.”

Stratford and Warwick district council chiefs argue the streamlining allowed by the merger would enable substantial savings and secure the long-term future of key services.

Both authorities have held public consultation on the merger and aexplained why it was necessary

Warwick District Council leader Andrew Day said: “Council services touch all our lives in many ways, so it matters that we get them right. These are challenging times, that offer an opportunity to renew and update local government across South Warwickshire.

Stratford District Council leader Tony Jefferson added: “The world is changing rapidly, and we cannot stand aside from that. With both councils facing financial challenges, we need to find solutions.”

Visit to find the petition.


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