Districts of South Warwickshire set to merge

Stratford Upon Avon DC and Warwick DC have given the green light for a merger which would see the creation of a new council, South Warwickshire DC.

Both councils cited the financial pressures that the industry and the councils themselves are currently facing as a primary reason for the merger.

They hope to save money by merging services, some of which have already been consolidated.

Yesterday, in separate board meetings, the leaders of each board brought forward the motion to go ahead with the merger.

Warwick passed the motion with a majority of 6 out of 40 voting advisers, while Stratford Upon Avon voted in favor of the merger with a majority of 21 out of 31.

The two councils will now write to Communities Secretary Michael Gove, proposing the merger.

However, it remains uncertain whether the proposal will be accepted by the Ministry of Leveling, Housing and Communities.

Introducing the motion to Warwick Council plenary meeting Andrew Day (Con), the Warwick chief said: “This is appropriate local government. It was not an undemocratic process.

Speaking to LGC after the Warwick council meeting, Ian Davison, the leader of the local Green Party group, said he did not think the merger would be “approved by the Secretary of State”.

He explained that the decision to combine the two districts was a “countermeasure” in light of the ongoing movement towards greater unity of government.

Warwickshire CC voted to start a conversation about reorganizing to form one or two Unity Councils in September 2020, although those conversations do not appear to have taken place more recently.

“The central government was keen on unitary authorities. So that they [said] does anyone want to apply, and Warwickshire CC has done it, ”said Cllr Davidson.

“And it’s kind of a counterattack on the districts to try to become a unitary authority.”

Cllr Davison told LGC that while the motion indicated that the merger would save money in the long run, he disagreed that it would.

“Our group did not believe that the financial savings claimed were credible. It’s always easy to claim economies of scale… ‘let’s just put two groups together and it will save you a lot of money’.

“Often it doesn’t work. It can take years to try to get a merger, so money can be wasted.

“My take is that it takes attention away from a lot of the things that are really important; fight against covid-19, fight against the climate emergency and obtain very good services. “

“I think it’s more of a distraction than a financial benefit,” added Cllr Davison.


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