Posted: 11.10.20 at 20:33 by The Editor
A letter from the Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government Luke Hall MP to the leader of Warwickshire County Council Cllr Izzi Seccombe this weekend has put a halt to what could have been vast changes to the face of local government in Warwickshire.
The plan submitted by the cabinet of the county council at the beginning of the month would have seen Bedworth's local authority, Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, be amalgamated with the four other district and borough councils, as well as the county council.
This was part of the county council's Strategic Case for Change report that was presented in early September. The report was in favour of Warwickshire forming a single unitary authority for local government, to replace the current two-tier model, as part of the government's proposed White Paper on local government reform.
The county council submitted their proposal to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government at the beginning of the month, in the hope that Warwickshire would be invited to make a case for change like authorities in Cumbria, Somerset, and North Yorkshire have been.
However Luke Hall's reply said "whilst 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."
He ends the letter by stating "I would like to stress that this is not a formal invitation kickstarting the process of unitarisation.
"If and when the Secretary of State were to issue an invitation to Warwickshire councils, it would then be for each council to decide whether to submit a unitary proposal, and if so what form that should take."
The discussion over local government in Warwickshire was sparked after Stratford and Warwick District Councils announced that they were going to merge.
This prompted the county council to commission a report by PWC into local government in the are which found that a single unitary model was the overwhelming recommendation. This was the Strategic Case for Change Report
This was then followed by the five district and borough councils commissioning their own report with Deloitte. This found that the best solution was for two new bodies to be formed. This would have seen Bedworth's governance fall under the Northern council encapsulating Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, North Warwickshire Borough Council, and Rugby Borough Council, whilst the other two would form a new council for the north of the county.