NOTTS: Councils could be abolished

Councillor Kay Cutts, leader of Nottinghamshire County Council
Councillor Kay Cutts, leader of Nottinghamshire County Council

The leader of Nottinghamshire County Council has said she is eager to get on with plans to abolish district and borough councils and increase co-operation between East Midlands councils.

Councillor Kay Cutts is working on two projects: to create a unitary authority in Nottinghamshire by abolishing district and borough councils; and creating a ‘super council’ with four counties and three cities in the East Midlands.

Speaking about the new unitary authority, she said the funding situation was now so serious that there were now three options: cut services, raise council tax or pool resources.

The Conservative councillor, who represents the Radcliffe on Trent ward, said: “This council needs to save £54 million out of our revenue, and if we’re going to do that, we have to close down services and for me that’s not acceptable.

“The other alternative we have is to put council tax up by something like five percent per annum for a decade.

“In Nottinghamshire, we’re going to pool our resources. In my view that’s the most sensible thing to do. We will probably double the number of councillors so everyone can have their say, and try to do what we’re elected to do which is try to provide members of the public with services.

Councillor Cutts was speaking ahead of a meeting which has been requested with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire to discuss the possibility of a ‘super council’.

She added: “The local issue for Nottinghamshire is we are going to look for re-organisation, and if I have an opportunity at this meeting I will raise it, but the meeting is not about that.”

However the abolishing of councils is likely to be controversial with the councils which would be absorbed, many of which have already come out against the plan.

Nottingham City Council leader Jon Collins favours a scheme which would see an expansion of Nottingham’s borders, known as the Metro Strategy.

John Clarke, the leader of Gedling Borough Council, also favours this approach.

Other council leaders, including the boss of Ashfield District Council Jason Zadrozny, have previously said they are opposed entirely to the abolition of district and borough councils.

Speaking after a meeting of the Policy Committee today, Councillor Cutts went on to discuss the plan for a ‘strategic alliance’ which has also been dubbed a ‘super council’.

This would involve four counties and three cities – Nottinghamshire, Nottingham, Derbyshire, Derby, Leicestershire, Leicester and Lincolnshire.

It is hoped this would rival the combined authority in the West Midlands.

She said: “I have been talking to my colleagues across the East Midlands and we’re very much involved in the Midlands Engine. We need to pull our weight more with the Midlands Engine.

“The West Midlands is already very well organised. We aren’t so well organised.

“We’re going to see James Brokenshire in order to see if we can come to an agreement about a strategic authority without a mayor, that’s going to draw down funding from Government and allow us to behave like responsible councillors that we are.”

When asked about a timeframe for when the changes in Nottinghamshire could come into effect, Councillor Cutts replied: “I want to get on with it.”

Kit Sandeman , Local Democracy Reporting Service