Monday, August 24, 2020

Lib Dem council leaders oppose forced move to unitary authorities

Representatives of 29 Lib Dem-run councils have signed an open letter opposing any move to impose unitary authorities across the country.

The Saffron Walden Reporter quotes from the letter:

"We are not in principle opposed to unitary councils of reorganisation, but it should only ever be locally driven, designed to empower communities and respond to local needs. Now is not the time to be disbanding our high performing councils and creating new ones.

"Reorganisation may benefit some places, but not all and not now. Continuing with mass reorganisation at this time risks scarce resources being diverted away from the Covid recovery and other vital public services. The choice for us as council leaders will be ‘what do we stop doing on recovery in order to resource reorganisation. That is not a choice we wish to make."

Well, I am opposed in principle to unity authorities. There may be places where they make sense and I am not the sort to insist we have the same system in every county, but I believe local government must be as local as is practicable.

And I am not convinced that centralising everything will save money. That is a very Seventies Labour argument but, as I blogged at the end of 2018, Brexit is steadily pushing Tory policy in that direction.

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