Nottingham City Council will press for an expansion of its borders to include the wider conurbation around the city if the County Council goes ahead with plans to reorganise local council boundaries.
Nottinghamshire County Council is set to debate proposals this Thursday to create a ‘super council’ which would swallow up the seven district/borough councils within Nottinghamshire.
City Council Leader, Councillor Jon Collins, has said that he doesn’t see any appetite among residents for local government reorganisation which would be a distraction from the delivery of crucial council services. However, if the County Council pushes ahead with its plans, then the City Council would be forced to set out its position.
He said: “While unitary local government may make sense in the long term, we don’t see it as the answer to the gross underfunding of local government by central government which has seen Nottingham’s Revenue Support Grant cut from £127 million in 2013 to just £25m next year.
“These cuts need to be reversed and that’s a matter for the Government which won’t be solved by rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Indeed, our experience of local government reorganisation in the late 1990s is that, while it made savings in the long term, it incurred significant extra cost in the short term which had to be met by Council Tax payers.
“We will continue to work with the existing pattern of local government but if the County Council lobbies to become a single tier authority on the current boundaries, we will be forced to present alternative proposals.
“It obviously makes sense for the City Council to deliver services across the whole conurbation and not just inner city Nottingham and as a result we would seek to expand our boundary to cover the whole urban area which would include Beeston, Stapleford, Toton, Arnold, Carlton, Gedling, Hucknall and West Bridgford.
“The current City Council area is seriously under-bounded with a population of 329,000 compared to a population for the Greater Nottingham area of over 600,000. This is important as funding for the City Council and city services is based on population size and increasingly determined by Council Tax, driven by population mix, and business rate income.
“Of course, our first step would be to work with our neighbouring district councils to see whether, in the face of the decision by the County Council, they would be happier co-operating with us on an alternative proposal.
“But ultimately, any case we make must reflect the logic of a single local authority covering Nottingham’s wider urban area.”
In the event that the County signals that it will move forward with its proposals, the City Council will write to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to outline its own proposals.