Austerity Progresses FurtherA proposal to merge our district council with West Devon Borough Council is now out for public consultation.This is a measure that responds to further government cuts in funding to local councils. Can the cost savings really be achieved, and if so, will they be worth the chaos and confusion? Are you happy with reduced accountability of our elected officials as they become more distant from us? Will the savings be eaten up by higher council executive pay and consultancy fees? Have a look at the proposal below and judge for yourself.
LINK TO PROPOSAL – CLICK HEREPRESS RELEASE:One Council – Have your say
South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council have now launched their consultation on a proposal to create one single new council.
Although South Hams and West Devon already share one workforce their political structures and decision making processes have remained completely separate.
However, in July the majority of councillors from both authorities voted to consult the public, their partners and local businesses on whether they should bring the two political structures together and create One Council.
South Hams and West Devon say that this would save them half a million pounds a year and go towards closing a predicted funding gap of £1.9 million by 2020.
However, before they decide whether they would like to submit a proposal to the secretary of state, who will make the final decision, the councils would like the public to have their say. The consultation is now open and closes on Sunday 8 October.
The consultation will take a number of different forms. There is a dedicated website, including an online survey and every household will receive a postcard telling them how they can find out more information.
Between now and the beginning of October, the councils will also be holding events in towns and parishes, where people can talk to their councillors and find out more information.
Cllr John Tucker Leader of South Hams District Council said “I really would encourage everyone to take a look at the information that we have provided, there are many things for people to consider, particularly for the residents of South Hams, who would see a Council Tax increase on the South Hams element of their Council Tax, to bring it to the same level as West Devon.
“Our working relationship with West Devon so far, has been fundamental to our ability to keep delivering services despite budget cuts and we have actually benefited more from this than West Devon have. The shared workforce arrangement currently saves South Hams £3.9m a year and West Devon £2.2m a year, which has so far enabled us to keep our element of the council tax at a lower rate.
“For me, I see the creation of a new council as a natural extension of our current working arrangements. It not only enables us to protect the savings we have made to date, but enables us to make more and safeguard services.”
Cllr Lois Samuel, Deputy Leader at West Devon Borough Council Added: “It is really important to us that we get a fair and accurate representation from across both areas and so we have also commissioned a telephone survey. Some of the residents in South Hams and West Devon may be contacted to answer the consultation questions over the phone.
“We will be putting out updates on social media and through a dedicated newsletter, the best way to keep up-to-date with the consultation dates and events is to sign up and follow us.”
In addition to this the councils will be sending letters to their partners and MP’s and holding briefing sessions with towns and parish councils as well as making contact with the business community.
The consultation will run from now until midnight on the 8 October. After the consultation closes, councillors from both authorities will consider the feedback from the consultation and make their final decision whether to submit to the secretary of state or not, at full council meetings towards the end of October.
For all of the information on the consultation visit: www.onecouncil.org.uk
Notes to editors:
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