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Debate over whether Warwickshire councils should combine

Cllr Howard Roberts

Cllr Howard Roberts

A debate over whether councils in Warwickshire should combine into a single unitary authority has split politicians.

Currently the county has a two-tier system with some services, such as social housing, planning and rubbish collections being controlled by councils like Rugby Borough Council, while other services including roads, schools and social care are controlled by Warwickshire County Council.

Some say that absorbing councils into one can save money and administrative costs, but not everyone agrees.

Cllr Howard Roberts, independent, who is a member of both councils, said: “The Conservative leader of Warwickshire County Council has initiated a debate on the merits of unitary status because it is widely acknowledged that major savings could be achieved. At a time when cuts are being made in local government it makes sense to investigate whether there is a cheaper way to run local government.”

Warwickshire’s Liberal Democrats, led by Rugby Cllr Jerry Roodhouse, have also voiced support for discussions on unitary status in the past and Cllr Izzy Seccombe, Warwickshire County Council leader, said the issue of unitary status had been brought up at nearly every one of the county council’s recent roadshow events, and that a debate on the matter may be held on February 25.

But Cllr Craig Humphrey, leader of Rugby Borough Council, argued that the costs involved can often outweigh the benefit. “Warwickshire County Council clearly has its reasons for having this debate at this time, with challenging savings targets that it must meet, but there is no appetite for local government reorganisation from either central government or indeed from neighbouring councils,” he said. The costs often outweigh the benefit and here in Rugby we believe in local democracy, at a cost the taxpayer can afford.”

 

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