MP vows to continue fight against district councils' planned merger - The Leamington Observer

MP vows to continue fight against district councils' planned merger

MP Matt Western has vowed to keep up the fight against the merger of Warwick and Stratford district councils after councillors backed the proposal.

Both respective full councils at the Conservative-controlled authorities have voted in favour of a proposal to join forces to form a new single South Warwickshire Council.

Government funding for councils across the country has reduced in recent years leaving them facing challenging financial futures. It has been estimated that combined, the two councils face a shortfall of around £9million a year.

But the Warwick and Leamington MP maintains there was no clear public mandate for the merger and says more than 1,400 people have signed his petition calling for a referendum to have the final say.

Mr Western pointed out the number who had signed his petition was actually more than had taken part in Warwick District Council’s (WDC) public consultation.

The MP says as more district councils merged to save money, the more centralised local authorities would become. He argues the merger would bring the county one step closer to a single unitary authority and greater loss of devolved decision making – including cuts to the number of councillors.

Mr Western said: “It would be deeply undemocratic to impose a model of governance on the residents of Warwick district that has received no clear public mandate – and is premised on cost-savings that have been inflicted by the government cuts.

“More people than there were respondents from Warwick district in the whole consultation have now signed my petition for a referendum – and I firmly believe it remains the best course of action.”

Coun Andrew Day, leader of WDC, has already dismissed Mr Western’s calls for a referendum as pointless.

The business case for the merger has now been sent to Michael Gove, the Secretary of State at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, with the aim 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.


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