By Kit Sandeman, Local Democracy Reporter
Nottingham City Council will seek to expand its borders if the County Council goes ahead with plans to scrap District and Borough Councils.
Nottinghamshire County Council is set to debate proposals on Thursday (July 12) to move ahead with plans to create a ‘super council’ which could mean all seven district and borough councils would be dissolved.
Now the leader of Nottingham City Council Jon Collins has said if the County Council approves plans, he would look to expand the city boundaries to include Beeston, Stapleford, Toton, Arnold, Carlton, Gedling, Hucknall and West Bridgford.
He said if the County Council votes in favour of the plans this week the City Council would be ‘forced’ to set out its own proposals and expand into the wider conurbation.
Councillor Collins, who represents the St Ann’s ward for Labour, said: “We will continue to work with the existing pattern of local government.
“But if the County Council lobbies to become a single tier authority on the current boundaries, we will be forced to present alternative proposals.
“It obviously makes sense for the city council to deliver services across the whole conurbation and not just inner city Nottingham.
“As a result we would seek to expand our boundary to cover the whole urban area which would include Beeston, Stapleford, Toton, Arnold, Carlton, Gedling, Hucknall and West Bridgford.”
Councillor Collins said if the County gives the green light on Thursday to moving ahead with their plans he will approach the neighbouring district and borough councils.
He said: “Of course our first step would be to work with our neighbouring district councils to see whether, in the face of the decision by the County Council, they would be happier co-operating with us on an alternative proposal.
“But ultimately any case we make must reflect the logic of a single local authority covering Nottingham’s wider urban area.”
The leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, Kay Cutts, favours a plan to scrap District Councils in order to make savings however critics say it would remove local decision making.
She has said she wants to get on with the plans ‘as soon as possible’ but declined to comment on the upcoming vote on Thursday.
Councillor Collins said: “While unitary local government may make sense in the long term, we don’t see it as the answer to the gross underfunding of local government by central government which has seen Nottingham’s Revenue Support Grant cut from £127m in 2013 to just £25m next year.
“These cuts need to be reversed and that’s a matter for the Government which won’t be solved by rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
“Our experience of local government reorganisation in the late 1990s is that while it made savings in the long term, it incurred significant extra cost in the short term which had to be met by council tax payers.
“The current City Council area is seriously under-bounded with a population of 329,000 compared to a population for the Greater Nottingham area of over 700,000.
“This is important as funding for the City Council and city services is based on population size and determined by council tax, driven by population mix and business rate income.”
In the event the county signals that it will move forward with its proposals, the City Council has said it will write to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Conservative James Brokenshire, to outline its own proposals.