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27th May, 2022

It's over: District council formerly withdraws from merger plan

Ross Crawford 13th May, 2022

PLANS for a merger between Stratford District and Warwick District councils have been formally withdrawn.

The move, if it had gone ahead, would have seen the creation of a new ‘South Warwickshire’ council.

At a meeting of Stratford councillors members agreed the following recommendations:

(1) That the formal submission to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to create a South Warwickshire District Council, be withdrawn;

(2) That work on the full-service integration of teams across Stratford-on-Avon and Warwick District Councils be terminated;

(3) That work on the identification of sharing civic and office accommodation between Stratford-on-Avon and Warwick District Council is terminated.

It further removed planned joint committees between the two authorities before stating their thanks to all the staff involved who had worked so hard in trying to achieve the merger.

Stratford District Council Leader Councillor Tony Jefferson said: “Although disappointing, we found an awful lot of new information and re-evaluated the position, and we decided the risks to our residents were too great.

“There is a significant difference between the approaches and ambitions of the two councils that have proved to be irreconcilable, which we have only found out after we started to work with Warwick.

“When the merger was first contemplated, our financial situation was very unclear following Covid, the potential of losing the New Homes Bonus and the uncertainty over business rates.

“Thankfully things have turned out better than expected both in terms of government grants and interim financial settlements, plus the economic recovery has also been stronger than predicted.

“Despite that, savings have been realised as part of this process. Early analysis shows that we have spent around £162,000 and estimated £271,000 worth of savings has been achieved, which equates to a net benefit of £110,000 of this joint working.

“Despite the decision today, it should not mean the end for the positives that this process has generated; we have learned a lot and wish to carry on as good partners and some of the joint working arrangements already put in place will continue as it makes sense to continue this work.”

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