The petition of residents of Warwickshire,
Declares that the proposed restructuring of Warwickshire County Council represents a naked power grab by the Council; notes that Warwickshire is currently run by a two-tier system, with borough and district councils taking responsibility in local areas for some services, while Warwickshire County Council runs other services across the wider area; further notes that the proposed new arrangement would see a single, unitary authority replace this system; further notes that there has been no other options for local government structures proposed by the county that reflect possible hybrid structures between borough/district councils and the county council; and further declares that there has been a lack of public consultation about these plans or any other.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to engage with Warwickshire County Council and halt their proposed plans, and works to create a public forum, such as a People’s Assembly, to oversee a review process whereby local district and borough councils, and the county council submit their proposals for the future structuring of local Government in Warwickshire.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Matt Western, Official Report, 30 September 2020; Vol. 681, c. 454 .]
Observations from The Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government (Luke Hall):
The Government recognise that locally-led changes to the structure of local Government can be an appropriate means of improving local service delivery, saving taxpayers’ money and improving local accountability.
The Government will not impose top-down restructuring of local Government and will continue to follow a locally-led approach for unitarisation where councils can develop proposals that have strong local support. In this way any reform of an area's local Government can most effectively be achieved. This approach has been consistently followed by the Government.
On Monday 12 October, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government announced, through a written statement, that this Government are inviting the principal councils in Cumbria, North Yorkshire, and Somerset, including associated existing unitary councils, to submit proposals for moving to unitary local Government in those areas.
The Government are aware that Warwickshire County Council and other councils in two-tier local Government areas are considering ideas about whether and how to reform local Government to better serve their local communities. When considering reform, those in an area will know what is best, the very essence of localism to which the Government remain committed. However, the pandemic has rightly necessitated resources across Whitehall and in local government being re-allocated to tackling covid-19 and to economic recovery, and this must be the No. 1 priority for Whitehall and town halls at present.