I am delighted the Conservative leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, Councillor Kay Cutts has at last accepted that what I believe are damaging and her divisive plans for a “super council”, which would include the abolition of every district and borough council in Nottinghamshire and the dismissal of the majority of their hard working local staff, should be withdrawn.
As Labour leader at the county council, I have led the opposition to these proposals as I and my Labour colleagues are convinced the proposals for one council in Nottinghamshire, run from West Bridgford in the far south of our county, would not be in the best interests of the vast majority of the people of our county and, speaking as a local councillor, will not effectively serve any of the people who I am privileged to be elected to represent.
We always said these proposals were the wrong solution for our struggling communities and we have been proven right. What a pity Coun Cutts didn’t listen to us before wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds on expensive consultants.
The set-up costs for this “super-council” alone would amount to millions of pounds of public money that could and should be spent on our communities, especially on the very young and very old. Serving our communities and looking after our most vulnerable residents should be our priority. These are my values and the values of the Labour Party I am proud to have been a member of for 40 years.
Local government continues to be under relentless pressure with central government cuts to funding at a level which would have been unbelievable 10 years ago. This and a rising demand for council services makes for a toxic mix that is unsustainable and must be addressed by fair funding, not distracting reorganisation.
The Conservative government in Westminster must recognise its austerity programme is damaging our communities and hurting individuals and families and Labour’s call for an end to austerity is gathering support. Until it changes, all our energy as councillors should go into serving our communities and lobbying government for fair funding for our councils, not in moving the deckchairs around and looking inward by restructuring and abolishing our local councils which, at the same time, would destroy local democracy, local accountability and local decision making.
Biggest is not always best and in the end, it is the priorities of the people that matter most, not those of powerful politicians, highly paid professionals or corporate interests.
Councillor Alan Rhodes
Nottinghamshire County Council Labour leader
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