GOVERNMENT plans to cut the number of ‘tiers’ of local authorities is set to herald the biggest re-organisation of local politics in almost 50 years.
A government White Paper could see two tier authorities like Worcestershire and Warwickshire, with representatives at both county and district / borough level, reduced to just one, possibly within the counties – or possibly in some new authority completely.
It’s a prospect which is being welcomed by Councillor Matt Dormer, the Leader of Redditch Borough Council.
“For me in Redditch, the two-tier system does not work,” he said.
“Redditch has never had its fair share from County and I am democratically elected to do the best for Redditch.
“Whether that is ‘across the border’ or two unitary authorities within Worcestershire, I will go for the one that offers the best deal and the best investment for our town.”
He added the government had made it clear it was favouring authorities with an elected mayor and that could mean closer links with the West Midlands Combined Authority or a Shire mayor.
“There are a lot of options and a lot to talk about and perhaps we should have a conversation with our neighbours in Warwickshire too.”
The government is keen on authorities with a population of between 300,000 and 500,000. Currently Worcestershire is heading towards 600,000.
“It’s almost as if they are pushing us into a two unitary split,” said Coun Dormer.
Such an option could see the county divided into a ‘North’ Worcestershire and a ‘South’.
“I want the best deal for Redditch – the town has lost it’s way a bit but we’re changing that, the investment is coming in. We just need everyone to be a bit more positive because we live in a great town.”
In Warwickshire the leaders of its five districts and boroughs have organised a public consultation in response to what has been described as a ‘power grab’ by the county council.
In a joint statement they said: “We are talking about the biggest shake-up in half a century so it would be totally wrong for any changes just to be pushed through without any feedback from residents, business and partner organisations.
“We understand that reform is not only inevitable but also necessary.
“However, that does not mean that all that is good in local government is simply wiped away in a power grab which – we believe – does not serve the area well.”