A REPORT into the future shape of local government in Warwickshire has come out in favour of splitting the county in ‘north’ and ‘south’ authorities.
The report was commissioned by the county’s five district and borough councils ahead of a Government White Paper on reform which is expected in the coming months.
The findings of the report, by Deloitte, will be of particular interest to Redditch which has long felt the poor relation in Worcestershire County Council.
The anticipated government White Paper is expected to push to streamline local government into a single tier, replacing the current two tier system of borough or district councils within county councils.
The five Warwickshire authorities commissioned the report following what they considered an attempted ‘power grab’ by the county council to make it the one single tier authority.
On the back of Deloitte’s findings, which would divide the county into a ‘North’ of North Warwickshire, Nuneaton and Bedworth and Rugby and a ‘South’ of Warwick and Stratford Districts the five say the future of local government in the county should be shaped by the views of residents, businesses, community groups, town, and parish councils.
Splitting Worcestershire into a ‘North’ and ‘South’ has also been mooted in Redditch, with the borough joining with Bromsgrove and Wyre Forest districts as one local authority with Worcester City and Malvern and Wychavon districts as the other.
An alternative could be for Redditch to become a full member of the West Midlands Combined Authority.
In Warwickshire Deloitte found that creating two councils – north and south – would be the best way to provide better value for money, higher quality services focused on their communities.
The new authorities would replace the current two-tier system where the county council is responsible for services such as highways, transport and social care, and borough and districts are responsible for things like planning, waste collection and leisure.
Although the report found having a single authority would marginally save more money overall, different levels of council tax could remove those savings and ‘diminish local leadership’.