Should Rushcliffe be scrapped?

rushcliffe
By Kit Sandeman, Local Democracy Reporter

The Conservative-controlled borough council is set to approve a £60,000 plan to run a detailed consultation to gain the views of local people.

The county council, which is also Conservative-controlled, favours a controversial plan which would see all borough and district councils in Notts scrapped, and replaced with one council for the whole county, excluding the city.

They say it could save millions every year, and would improve services.

However critics fear it could erode local decision-making, and that a council for around 800,000 people would make it the second largest in the country, meaning it could be too large to make decisions effectively.

Rushcliffe’s move comes after a similar survey in Gedling, which found an overwhelming majority of residents wanted to keep Gedling Borough Council in its current form.

A Government plan, known as a white paper, is anticipated in the coming weeks, and is widely expected to make it easier for councils to reorganise council areas, known as local government reorganisation (LGR).

A report, set to be be approved by Rushcliffe Borough Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday, September 8, says: “As a proactive, high-performing district council, it is important that Rushcliffe Borough Council should be part of any debate around local government reorganisation and play its part in shaping the new future of local government.

It goes on to say there will be: “Proper public consultation with all affected parties, and following a clear timescale to be agreed, which allows due consideration for affected parties and respects local democracy.

“Nottinghamshire County Council’s previous business case (which was shelved in December 2018), was not endorsed by Rushcliffe Borough Council and the council was not formally consulted on any part of the business case, nor was it engaged in developing any financial models.

“A single county unitary representing an electorate of over 800,000 would be the second largest in the country after Birmingham City Council (over one million) and before Leeds City Council (over 800,000).

“Its geographical spread would be eight times the size of Birmingham. It would surround Nottingham City Council, which is a tightly-bounded city with a population of around 300,000.

“General verbal guidance from government officials suggests that new unitaries should look to have a population size of 300,000-600,000 but the devolution white paper may provide some clarity on this.

“Any review of local government in Nottinghamshire that will stand the test of time and be fit for the next forty years should include meaningful engagement with Nottingham City Council.

“Whilst consensus is largely welcomed in any local government reorganisation plans, it is not always required by government from all parties and Rushcliffe Borough Council should avoid being a bystander whilst decisions and proposals are pushed forward by other local authorities.”

Councillor Simon Robinson is the leader of the council, and represents the Edwalton ward for the Conservatives.

He said: “It’s important as a proactive high performing district council Rushcliffe positively play any part in shaping the new future of local government.

“A report to Cabinet will be considered on September 8, including reforming a local government reorganisation member group.

“It also suggests the council will engage in the wider process of reorganisation and work collectively with other local authority partners to identify and consult on the best options for the future.”

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