Mansfield’s Mayor has said she is “disappointed” with proposals for a unitary council that would abolish localised district and county councils.
If the proposals go ahead, It would involve dissolving district and borough councils, and the county council, and creating a new authority.
Should councillors then vote in favour at a future meeting, it would then be sent to the Government.
Mayor Kate Allsop said that she was ‘very disappointed’ that County Council leader Kay Cutts had forged ahead with proposals, which would see Mansfield District Council replaced with a unitary authority.
Mr Allsop said: “A unitary authority is too big and the headquarters in West Bridgford would be too far from the residents of Mansfield to effectively deliver the services that matter most to local people. There is a real risk that decision-making will be slower than it is now and that more council services could be outsourced.
“You may still get your bin emptied and your streets cleaned but what about the future of our local gems such as Mansfield Museum, Water Meadows Swimming Complex and the Palace Theatre?
“Our ASSIST scheme has already helped more than 3,000 local people and saved the NHS millions of pounds. We have plans to spend £21m on building new council housing but there is no guarantee that this and other local priorities, such as regenerating Mansfield Town Centre, would be priorities for any new super council.”
“We currently have a budget that is just to spend in our district for the benefit of our residents. But we have grave concerns about how much money our communities would receive from a centrally-held budget. Cllr Cutts has already said that the super council’s priorities would be social care and potholes, which shows there is no guarantee that any of the most valued services we provide to residents in our most deprived areas would be protected.
“We recognise the need for local government reorganisation to respond to the changing demands of our communities and the budget challenges we face but there are many options that should be considered. The priority needs to be ensuring the needs and wants of our local communities are considered and met locally and I am strongly committed to ensuring this is the case.
“For several years we have been working in a more effective and efficient way. This includes sharing a number of services with neighbouring authorities, which has already brought many benefits and cost savings. The remodelling of our Civic Centre to accommodate the Department for Work and Pensions means we receive £328,000 a year in much-needed additional income, which goes towards protecting and developing frontline services. Also we have approved a radical and challenging Transformation Plan which will make the delivery of our services more efficient and release millions of pounds in savings.
“We are yet to see any evidence of Cllr Cutts’ claim that forming a unitary council would save £20m-30m a year and we will be speaking to other authorities that have been through this process to see how much it cost and the timescales involved. However, what is clear is that reorganisation on this scale is both extremely costly and diverts resources away from supporting our communities.
“I will continue to work with county and district leaders to try to influence any proposals.
“Any decision to reorganise local authorities is for the Government, specifically James Brokenshire as the Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government. He has said previously that he will not consider any proposal where there isn't consensus between all of those involved.
“There are many options for reorganisation and all should be considered with the interests of local communities at the heart of any proposal. I will ensure any proposals are dealt with in line with legislation and that those affected are fully consulted.”