Nick Rushton Sends Letter To Government Outlining One Council For Leicestershire Plan

By Graham Hill

29th Sep 2020 | Local News

A letter which could signal the start of huge changes to the way local councils in Leicestershire are set up has been sent to the Government by Nick Rushton.

The Leicestershire County Council leader penned the letter to the Secretary of State for housing, communities and local government, Robert Jenrick MP, earlier this month after the Tory cabinet at County Hall gave the nod.

In it, he asked for an invitation to be issued to Leicestershire County Council to submit plans to scrap itself and all of the county's district and borough councils and replace them with one council for Leicestershire.

Cllr Rushton writes: "The time is right to examine the structure of local government in Leicestershire.

"Making unitary local government a condition of meaningful devolution is a natural and necessary step forward to enable us to provide better, simpler, and more cost-effective local government."

The letter has been sent, ahead of the apparent release of a new white paper on devolution.

As well as plans to create the new Leicestershire council, the county council has also set out plans to form an East Midlands super council with an elected mayor for the region.

Cllr Rushton's letter states: "Regional devolution and accountability must be part of the package and I am committed to putting in place the foundations for an ambitious mayoral combined authority for the East Midlands, working closely with the leaders of the area's other city and county councils."

Plans to change the landscape of local government in the county have been toyed with for years. In 2018, the county council built a business case for a unitary set up, with a week's worth of meetings held to scrutinise the plans.

The business case has been re-looked at and costed before the latest letter was sent, with officers saying the changes could save taxpayers £30 million a year after the initial set up costs of £18 million.

Cllr Rushton said: "Ask anyone now, the person on the street, and most people are unsure of which council does what for them.

"People across the county pay something like £1,500 a year in council tax and don't know how much of it is spent on what and by which authority.

"At the same time ask people whether a two or in some area three-tier structure of local government would be introduced now and I think they'd all struggle to think that it would be.

"The current system is dated and doesn't allow us or other councils to provide the best value for money for our ratepayers."

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