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Government plans could see borough and district councils in Surrey scrapped

3 minute read
Government plans could see borough and district councils in Surrey scrapped

Published by Lettie Buxton at 6:00am 11th July 2020.

The Government is expected to announce plans in the autumn which could see more councils become unitary authorities.

It could mean that borough and district councils in Surrey are scrapped in favour of having just the county council.

In a speech at the Local Government Association’s annual conference earlier this month, MP Simon Clarke said the plans aim to "remove the complexity of governance and reduce costs to the taxpayer".

He said it would also allow town and parish councils to be "genuinely empowered".

Tim Oliver, leader of Surrey County Council, said the Recovery and Devolution White Paper will provide a "significant opportunity to shape the future of the sector to better meet the needs of residents":

"With increased local powers and the right structural reform for Surrey, I’m confident we will deliver better services, more value for money and a simplified and more accountable system of local government for residents.

"It would help us better tackle some of the fundamental challenges facing our communities with effective local engagement and empowerment for residents.

"Surrey is a unique place, with unique challenges and opportunities.

"So we are putting in the work, and having conversations with stakeholders, to understand what the best future for Surrey could and should look like.

"The government is likely to encourage unitarisation where possible, and we think this could bring a whole raft of benefits for Surrey and its residents if it’s done right.

"We must be ready to take the opportunities made available in the forthcoming White Paper, and ensure that any future system of government in Surrey genuinely works for all our residents, and makes good economic and practical sense."

Meanwhile Ray Morgan, Woking Borough Council’s chief executive, said they will be sticking to priority issues for the time being, "rather than spend resources on speculating about the future":

"The question of possible local government reorganisation in the context of the Government’s plans to stimulate growth was highlighted by the Minister, Simon Clarke, when explaining a forthcoming White Paper which is scheduled to be published in September. 

"Woking is concentrating on meeting the needs of residents and businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Our efforts are directed to building a better place for future generations through the provision of new homes and better integrated services with our health partners. 

"When the White Paper is published we will consider it and take a view on the way forward."