Teresa Needham On The Nottinghamshire County Council Public Consultation.
Nottinghamshire residents have been asked to comment on a possible local government re-organisation.
Nottinghamshire faces a predicted shortfall of £54 million in funding over the next three years with further cuts to come.
Nottinghamshire County Council have suggested several options but they appear to favour the creation of a unitary authority instead of having a two tier system of Nottinghamshire County Council and local borough councils.
The Nottinghamshire County Council web page has a document outlining the proposal which we are encouraged to read before completing a questionnaire to gauge our opinion on this.
The argument put forward by the county council is one sided however. We are told that there is overlap in services and savings can be made by cutting down on local councillors and buildings housing each local authority.
We are also told that only 9% of funding is spent by local borough councils, so why has the administration cost of local councils become the main target for savings?
We are not told what the total gross budget for Nottinghamshire is (although £481million is given as the Net budget for Nottinghamshire County Council).
How can we know if the yet unknown saving on administering 9% of the budget is likely to cover the deficit?
There is also no mention of the costs of consultancy, restructuring, rebranding, retraining and redundancy which is likely to be substantial.
We are not given any indication on split of workloads as 91% of the budget does not equate to 91% of the work.
The biggest omission is what this will mean for democracy. Surely fewer councillors will mean less of a voice to local communities?
How can we ensure the budget will be distributed fairly throughout the county?
Basically there is a complete lack of accounting in the information given to enable people to make an informed decision of any sort.
As a unitary authority is put forward as the solution to all our problems the responses to the questionnaire are likely to mirror this.
From the information we are given we will obviously want change, greater transparency and efficiency but agreeing to these statements should not be interpreted as acceptance of the loss of our local borough councils.
The views of Nottinghamshire residents on how councils are run are important so let’s have a two sided argument put forward and a questionnaire which reflects this.