Why it’s time to abolish most of our councils

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As he enters his final year in office, Mansfield Mayor Tony Egginton calls for a radical rethink of local councils - including slashing the number of local authorities in our area...

I I feel sure that many of you will be aware that when I stood for election for my third term as your elected Mayor I stated that it would be my final term. Last week I entered that final year in office and quite clearly I felt I should relay my views on the way forward for the people that have put their trust in me for almost twelve years.

Whichever political group are in control of our country they make the laws and legislation that filters down for our locally elected leaders to make important decisions that determine the way we are governed. From introducing my first 4 year plan back in 2002 many of the priorities for the Council still remain and we continue to try to manage the challenges set by Westminster.

There has been much talk about devolving power from Central to Local Government, but sadly we have seen little commitment to that happening and whatever happens in the elections next year I personally cannot see much change. To this end I feel that having been entrusted with your support, I have a duty to try to influence the way we are governed locally.

To remain as we are is not an option and we have to engineer change for the better and indeed the longer term.

Nottinghamshire has had the same government structure since 1974 and I have to question what other company or organisation has not reviewed the way they manage and deliver services for their customers for forty years. So yes, the time is right for introducing some radicle reform for Local Government.

We have witnessed for several years the effect on the public purse when Central Government announces the grant settlement to Local Authorities. Nottinghamshire is governed by two Upper Tier Authorities – Notts County Council and Nottingham City Council with seven District Councils. I am extremely proud to say that we have worked with our neighbouring Authorities, particularly Ashfield District Council to continue to provide front line services to you the customer and offer value for money for the Council Tax that you pay each year. However, the time has come to re-shape the way that services are provided to you in a more cost effective and efficient way.

My solution after working with local politicians for the last twelve years is to have 3

COUNCILS instead of the current 9 COUNCILS. There are many advantages to this point of view but the cost saving to you the Council Tax payers has to be the driving force behind this re-structure.

I will give some facts and figures that have made me realise that this would be the solution that would satisfy you the Council Tax Payers but not necessarily the Politicians.

Currently the cost of senior management teams across the 9 Authorities is circa £6.5

million and the members allowances and expenses almost £5 million. I feel sure those two alone make you realise that to NOT change the system is not an option – let me give you more facts.

Three headquarters instead of nine, three senior management teams instead of nine, up to two thirds less councillors and only three members of Parliament to serve the Council Tax Payers of Nottinghamshire resulting a massive cost savings and equally important, a more efficient service and understanding of who is responsible for what services.

If Central Government is serious about delivering power to Local Authorities they have to be sure that they are Councils that are capable of managing that power efficiently and effectively. Successive Governments have supported a variety of “Quangos” during my twelve years involvement and the majority have failed through the lack of localism. A three unitary Nottinghamshire has to be the way forward and the “localism” agenda would be strengthened through the development of “Neighbourhood Plans”

All Local Authorities know that in the “new normal” of permanent austerity, cuts and

efficiency gains are no longer enough.

While efficiency and taking out costs will continue to be a core priority for Local Authorities, the other side of the coin will be the need for innovation, new thinking, the establishment of new revenue streams and the generation of new models of partnership, collaboration and service delivery. I look forward to hearing your views.

A big thank you to Faz and his team at the Mint Restaurant ,who hosted a fund raising event for our world famous Paralympic swimmer Ollie Hynd OBE last Sunday.

Also a plug for Paul and his team at Mansfield Manor, Carr Bank who along with

the Federation of Small Businesses and Mansfield 2020 are holding a Wine Tasting evening on Friday, May 16, commencing at 6pm. For information and tickets, call 01623 452525.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Do we have too may councils, should we rethink the whole system?

Let us know YOUR view. To email us CLICK HERE