Unitary Authority

We, the Broxtowe Green Party oppose the current idea to merge Borough Councils and Nottinghamshire Council into one Unitary Authority as we believe it will compromise delivery of essential services, bring local job losses and reduce democratic accountability.

We, the Broxtowe Green Party are concerned that the plan to become a unitary authority is flawed. Although we would support changes which improve efficiency whilst maintaining levels of service, we do not see how the current plan to centralise will deliver this. Additionally we foresee that any potential monetary savings due to restructuring will disappear in higher expenditure in set up and beyond.

Centralising the running of services also centralises the decision making taking it further away from the direct control of people using those services. Additionally having one Unitary Council does reduce democratic accountability and transparency. We, from the Green Party can see this has occurred in Nottingham City Council, where Labour has a very strong hold, with a tiny opposition. This not only means the loss of democratic control but also diminishes the sense of ownership and responsibility to do the best for the whole community by the decision makers in control. Better democratic engagement with communities is needed and this proposal will lead to voter alienation rather than better democratic engagement.

There will be costs from consultants advising on how to implement the changes, marketing costs due to rebranding not to mention redundancy payouts and new election costs, all of which are non-recoverable. More crucially, after centralisation there is likely to be a knowledge vacuum due to experienced staff being made redundant or being placed in alternative roles. There will be a need to invest in retraining staff. The remaining staff will have to deal with an increased workload risking their mental and physical health due to the stress. During this transition there will be the inevitable reduction in service provision to the people of Nottinghamshire. This will impede timely access to vital council services and ultimately could shift demand onto healthcare, policing and on the environment. The reduction in staff is also likely to not be as large as initially anticipated as effective communication within such a vast unitary authority would in itself require administering.

Additionally, the effect of job losses on the local economy has to be taken into account. Higher unemployment will depress local economies because people are less able to purchase goods and services, businesses will suffer and possibly fail. This will reduce council income from business rates. Higher unemployment will also increase demand for such services as free school meals. There will be an increase for social services support as the pressure on families increases. This proposed reorganisation will also be taking place alongside the uncertainty created as a result of Brexit, in whatever form it occurs.

We recognise however, that the systems currently in place can be improved and there is potential to reduce some costs and improve efficiency. Our City and Borough councils have a skilled, knowledgeable and experienced workforce administering our services. Empowering staff to suggest improvements in communication, efficiency, and in creating opportunities to share best practice and make incremental changes is a better place to start strategic changes.

Therefore we, the Broxtowe Green Party would urge the County Council to find another less destructive way to deal with the budgeting constraints that ensures devolvement of local issues for local communities whilst collaborating with other local authorities and trade unions to take action and protect our essential public services.

Sent from secretary@broxtowe.greenparty.org.uk Despite request, no name supplied.

 

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6 Comments

  1. I am sure that the Green Party is taking the correct view on this matter and trust that all parties in Broxtowe will follow suit. As an example, Housing-the majority in Broxtowe voted to remain in local authority control whereas in other areas arms length companies or housing associations took over or were formed. What happens in Broxtowe if this move goes ahead? Although not myself a Council tenant I am a leaseholder of BBC and have no wish to see any alteration to the present position. The parks too in this area are a credit to the Council and should remain in this very local control. The majority of those I have spoken to are against the proposal and I trust that many residents will make their views known to our Councillors.

  2. I’m sorry to disagree Green Party but what an absolute load of fluffy nonsense. Presumably the Green Party doesn’t have any seats on Unitary authorities given how destructive they are ?

    In 2016 a report by EY for the County Councils Network (CCN) concluded that creating a further 27 unitary authorities in England could save up to £2.9bn. The single unitary option has the shortest payback period and the most effective platform for financial sustainability and reducing council tax for residents. Counties also have the lowest back office and management overheads – just 6% of their budgets, compared to 46% at the average district council level.

    May I also suggest you enlighten us all as to how the Green Party would otherwise deal with the ‘budgeting constraints’. You seem to have come to a rather abrupt end and at that point and shifted responsibility onto the County Council, which you seem to ignore has been dealing with the impact of significantly reduced income and rising demand for services for the last 8 years or more. Government funding for local authorities has fallen by an estimated 49.1% in real terms from as long back as 2010-11 to 2017-18 (NAO report. Financial Sustainability of local authorities March 2018).

  3. Extract from Nottingham City post on Yahoo.co.uk today:- Hopefully they won’t mind.

    “Staying streets ahead of road repairs:

    Poor road conditions can cause real safety issues – which is why we do our best to stay on top of repairs.
    Nottingham City Council manages around 500 miles of road, which if laid out would take you all the way to Frankfurt, so that’s a lot of road to maintain!
    You might have noticed a wave of pristine, newly tarmacked roads appearing around the city over the summer. This is part of the annual resurfacing work the council completes to stay ahead of the game and make sure our roads stay in good condition.”

    On the other hand Nottinghamshire County Council has a lot more than 500 miles of road to manage which is why we don’t bother to stay on top of repair in spite of there being a lot more council tax payers at our disposal. Even though you could get way past Frankfurt if they were laid end to end, provided that is, if you could find enough roads with a decent enough surface on which to proceed.

    A really good reason why our Unitary Authority should be Broxtowe Borough Council

  4. I think you will find that Nottinghamshire County Council is the designated highway authority responsible for roads and their maintenance across the county – not Broxtowe Borough Council.

  5. Hi Ian, I think I misunderstood the intent of your reply, presuming it was about funding. Reading again, I think we both accept Unitary authorities as the way forward although may possibly disagree over the appropriate tier of local government to form the core.

    1. That’s ok Paul. I know that somewhere I read a suggestion that BBC might be a better option than the NCC to run the County. The “idea’ from the NCC is purely an attempt by the Tories for Mrs Cutts to remain as Council Leader for ever and a day. Whatever happens there will not be a reduction in any household’s expenditure.

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