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4th Jul, 2022

Plans to create unitary authority across Warwickshire put on hold

Laura Kearns 13th Oct, 2020

PLANS to create a single local authority across Warwickshire have been put on hold.

Warwickshire County Council’s cabinet recently voted through a proposal to create a unitary authority, which was sent to government for approval.

It came ahead of a government white paper on local reorganisation.

But the Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government Luke Hall has contacted the council to say due to coronavirus and the focus on economic recovery its proposal would not be accepted ‘at present’.

He said: “The Secretary of State has issued formal invitations to councils in Cumbria, Somerset and North Yorkshire to submit proposals for unitary local government. While I recognise you have also asked for an invitation, the pandemic has rightly necessitated resources across Whitehall and in local government being re-allocated to tackling covid 19 and on economic recovery, and this must be Whitehall’s and town halls’ number one priority at present.

“I know this will be disappointing. However, I would value an opportunity now to see how your vision for the future of local government in Warwickshire is developing and the ideas you have for future unitary structures.”

Warwickshire County Council leader Izzi Seccombe said a unitary authority would make the council more resilient following the pandemic.

She believes becoming a single tier authority – which would replace all local borough and district councils – would benefit residents, businesses and communities by providing a simpler structure and creating value for money.

Coun Seccombe said: “I am delighted the minister has clearly indicated he would value the opportunity to see how our vision on the future of local government in Warwickshire is developing. We now have a real opportunity to continue this thinking and inform his thinking about local government reform for Warwickshire.

“In Warwickshire I think there is a consensus view the current model of local government is no longer sustainable and that change is needed. This remains the case, especially given the major challenges we face now and in the medium-term as a result of covid.

“We will continue to press for reform for Warwickshire and we will of course work closely with those who live, work and do business here, as well as government as we develop our thinking.”

Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western welcomed the move.

He said: “This is a sensible decision by government which puts the power-grab by Warwickshire County Council on hold. If their proposals were to be pursued, it would’ve been premature and would ultimately fail the people of Warwickshire.

“Sweeping changes to how local government is organised and how local services are run must be consulted on fully with the public.

“I’m pushing for a public forum to ensure residents and businesses of Warwickshire have a say on any and all future proposals before they are considered for approval.”

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