Notts county council leader says 'super-council' bid 'has been put to bed'
Nottinghamshire County Council’s new leader Ben Bradley MP has said plans to scrap district and borough authorities are ‘not on the table’.
During the first full meeting of the council since the Conservatives romped to victory in local elections earlier this month, Coun Bradley declined to write a letter to Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, stating the council’s position.
But he said that it had been a Tory election pledge to scrap plans for a Nottinghamshire ‘super council’ – which would have seen the axing of all borough and district authorities, including Mansfield and Ashfield.
The move would have seen ‘an area the size of Luxembourg run from West Bridgford’.
Speaking about the motion proposed by Ashfield Independent leader Coun Jason Zadrozny, Coun Bradley, who is also the Mansfield MP, said: “I think we have put this to bed.
"I can’t say it will never happen because I can’t predict the future, but it isn’t on the cards, and I have written letters to all district and borough leaders this week to put this matter to bed early doors.
“I want to make it clear that it is not my intention to revisit electoral reforms and I want to concentrate on the county’s recovery from Covid.”
Plans for one single unitary authority for Nottinghamshire had first been mooted in 2018 as a response to Government pledges for more regional devolution, but the plan stalled and has not been furthered since the outbreak of the pandemic.
It had led to opposition from district and borough politicians from every main party amid claims it would impact on democracy and restrict local decision-making.
Coun Zadrozny told the meeting: “Councils were the shining beacon in delivering services through the pandemic, and now in leading the recovery.
“Local Government rallied to the call, and the threat of job losses that this process would incur is a slap in the face to all those hard-working council staff.
“The bigger the council, the less personal it becomes.”
Earlier in the meeting, which took place at Nottingham Conference Centre to allow for greater social distancing, Coun Bradley again defended his decision to take on the council leadership role alongside his Parliamentary commitments and his duties as a new county councillor for Mansfield North.
Responding to questions, he said that every previous leader of the authority also had to deal with matters from their own wards as a local councillor – and that there was a ‘natural cross-over’ with his work as council leader and as an MP.
He also paid tribute to outgoing council leader Kay Cutts, who had stepped down from the authority prior to the election, saying ‘she had been a county councillor since before I was born’.
Coun Bradley also highlighted the work of former Labour Group leader, Alan Rhodes, who lost his seat earlier this month.
Coun Mike Quigley, who represents Retford, was elected new council chairman for the next year and Southwell councillor Roger Jackson as vice chairman.