Nottinghamshire residents, businesses, voluntary organisations and town and parish councils now have the chance to give their views on the future of local council services.
The County Council’s Policy Committee last week (16 September) agreed to write to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government seeking a formal invitation to submit proposals for local government reorganisation as well as beginning work on a business case and engaging with local residents and stakeholders.
To ensure that the proposals are fit for an ambitious and thriving council in the 21st Century, the County Council wants to know what residents and organisations across Nottinghamshire think about council services and how they could best serve local people, their families and their communities going forward.
Leader of the Council, Councillor Kay Cutts MBE said: “The time is right for change in local government. The current structure of eight separate councils is both wasteful and confusing and does not serve the best interests of Nottinghamshire taxpayers.”
“The argument for a new, unitary council to deliver services in Nottinghamshire is a compelling one.”
“It would end duplication and waste, and free up money to be spent on improving and protecting services.”
“Councils have faced many years of financial difficulties and we need to find ways of spending less without reducing services. It is even more important that we do this now, because COVID-19 has made the financial circumstances of councils in Nottinghamshire worse. We must find ways of making our money go further.”
“A unitary authority would put people and outcomes first, rather than party politics.”
Councillor Cutts explains that she hears a lot from residents who are fed-up with being passed from authority to authority, depending on the issue and frustrated by the lack of joined-up thinking.
“A unitary authority would provide accountability and clarity about who provides what, giving us a single body responsible for all council services and joining-up functions like rubbish collection with waste disposal and housing with social care,” Councillor Cutts added.
Nottinghamshire County Council currently spends 91% of the local government funding available for the area on delivering countywide services including: education, special educational needs and disability support, social care for children and adults, public health, road maintenance and transport services, cultural and leisure services including libraries, waste recycling and disposal, trading standards, strategic planning and registration services.
The seven district and borough Councils spend 9% of local government funding delivering services including: council tax collection, council housing, waste collection, environmental health, local planning applications, parks and some leisure services.
Councillor Cutts commented: “With the move to a unitary authority there is an opportunity to simplify services, save up to £27m a year and ultimately improve the lives of residents the length and breadth of the county.
“Over the coming weeks, I want to demonstrate, along with other councillors, why this is the right thing to do and why it makes sense for the people of Nottinghamshire.”
Councillor Cutts also argues that the move to a unitary would also give Nottinghamshire a much louder, more influential voice within national Government – giving us the best possible chance of attracting the investment and economic growth and improvements to infrastructure which we miss out on currently.
“Making sure we’re at the top table when money is being handed out will help create a vibrant and inclusive, aspirational and ambitious county – a place we’re proud to live, bring up our families and set up a business.”
To have your say simply share your views and thoughts by filling-in the questionnaire on-line at https://future.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/have-your-say/ between Monday 21st September – Monday 19th October.
On the Your Nottinghamshire Your Future website you can read about the process so far and a list of FAQs.
Paper versions of the questionnaire with a freepost return envelope will also be available at all Nottinghamshire County Council libraries from 28 September 2020.
The ‘listening and engagement’ stage is being conducted by an independent and specialist social research company, Opinion Research Services (ORS).
Councillor Cutts added: “I hope that residents take this opportunity to give us their views and thoughts about how they see council services running in the future.
“I firmly believe that a unitary authority for Nottinghamshire is the right thing to do. Put simply ……It is better, simpler and saves taxpayers’ money.”