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Well over 100 East Midlands Councillors sign letter calling for halt to Unitary Councils plans

October 5, 2020 4:22 PM
Originally published by Leicestershire Liberal Democrats

Over 100 Liberal Democrat councillors from across the East Midlands have signed a letter to the Secretary of State for Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP, calling for a halt to controversial Government plans to abolish Borough and District Councils across the region and replace them with larger Unitary authorities.

The letter, signed by 118 Councillors, was jointly authored by Lib Dem Hinckley and Bosworth Borough and Leicestershire County Councillor Michael Mullaney and Leader of Chesterfield Lib Dem Councillors Paul Holmes.

Hinckley Lib Dem councillor Michael Mullaney said "Abolishing Borough and District Councils land creating huge unitary authorities would be disruptive at anytime. But to be considering this disruption when we are still in the middle of a pandemic, which sadly looks like it will last for at least many more months, is totally irresponsible of the government. During the Covid-19 outbreak we have seen local Borough and District Councils step up to the plate with their local knowledge of the communities they serve to provide local support, like delivering food parcels to vulnerable people who were shielding, supporting businesses and co-ordinating local volunteers.

"It's a huge mistake for the Conservative government to now suggest scrapping these local councils to create large Unitary authorities. The proposals such as the suggested single Unitary Council for all of Leicestershire would create authorities that were more remote from the people they are meant to serve, and with less local knowledge and less responsive to local needs.

"This letter signed by over a 100 Liberal Democrat Borough, County, District and City councillors across the East Midlands Region shows there is strong opposition to the government's proposed new Unitary authorities. In addition To Lib Dem opposition there are many Conservative, Labour, Green and Independent councillors who are also opposed to the plans."

Cllr Paul Holmes added, " The idea of imposing huge Unitary Councils, covering wide geographical areas, is bad for local community representation and accountability. Coupling this with the imposition of directly elected Mayors covering entire Regions is not remotely Devolution but is fact centralisation of power into fewer and more remote and unaccountable hands. Across the country the electorate have almost always rejected such proposals when asked to vote on them."

"We hope the Secretary of State will listen to our objections and understand that there is huge opposition to their disruptive, time consuming Unitary plans that will make local government in the East Midlands less local and more remote from the people it's there to serve"

Text of the letter and the signatures below

Dear Secretary of State,

Even before the publication of the mis-named 'Devolution' white paper, Conservative run county councils such as Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire have been setting out their proposals to variously:

  1. Abolish the county elections of May 2021
  1. Abolish all district and borough councils
  1. Elect new, massive and remote county wide unitary authorities of up

to a million people in May 2023.

We believe that these proposals are fundamentally wrong in every respect.

They would mean that all the councils involved would spend the next two and a half years arguing over and concentrating on, the expensive business of large-scale closure, merger, defining and reapplying for jobs, redundancy and closing down sites. This is the last thing we need when tackling Covid-19, and its economic fallout should be the number one priority.

The UK already has the lowest ratio of councils and councillors per head of population of any Western European country. Abolishing all district and borough councils would make this democratic deficit even worse. Far from representing 'devolution' these plans represent a huge centralising of roles and local responsibilities.

District and borough councils are rooted in and represent the interests of their local communities in a way which large (in population and geographic area) unitary authorities cannot remotely do. Most recently this has been clearly shown during the Covid-19 outbreak when the flexible, local knowledge and expertise of district and borough councils has provided the cutting edge of distributing local business support grants, delivering food parcels to the local shielded population, advising their local retail businesses on social distancing strategies and much else.

Unitary authorities in compact, geographically small areas with a clear community identity make good sense, as seen in our cities and in a very small county such as Rutland. Huge unitary authorities of up to a million people spread across a wide geographic area do not. Smaller unitary authorities that reflect actual communities work well across Europe and the USA but the UK government has so far ruled this out.

The financial problems of local government have been caused because the government has cut 40 per cent of its funding. The massive problems of adult social care are a result of successive governments failing to deal with the problem. The increasing expense and complexity of parts of local government are due to the government's imposition of new and costly tiers, with police and crime commissioners and directly elected mayors.

We call upon the government to reverse the cuts to the funding of local government, withdraw their so called 'devolution plans' and consult on an effective form of community based local government. Devolution should mean moving power downwards not moving it up to large and remote bodies.

Yours faithfully,

Councillor Michael Mullaney. Hinckley & Bosworth District Council & Leicestershire County Council

Councillor Paul Holmes leader of the opposition on Chesterfield Borough Council

Councillor Stuart Bray Leader of Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council deputy leader of the opposition on Leicestershire County Council

Councillor John Boyce Leader of Oadby and Wigston Borough Council

Councillor Steve Carr Deputy Leader of Broxtowe Borough Council and Nottinghamshire County Councillor

Councillor David Bill Deputy Leader of Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council and Leicestershire County Councillor

Councillor Michael Charlesworth Deputy Leader of Oadby and Wigston Borough Council and Leicestershire County Councillor

Councillor Geoff Welsh leader of Liberal Democrat group on Blaby District Council and Leicestershire County Councillor

Councillor Ruth Skelton leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Derby City Council

Councillor Phil Knowles leader of the opposition on Harborough District Council

Councillor Simon Galton leader of the opposition on Leicestershire County Council and Harborough District Councillor

Councillor Michael Wyatt leader of the Liberal Democrat group on North West Leicestershire District Council and Leicestershire County Councillor

Councillor Ross Shipman leader of the Liberal Democrat group on North-East Derbyshire District Council

Councillor Chris Stanbra leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Northamptonshire County Council

Councillor Gale Waller leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Rutland County Council

Councillor Trevor Young leader of the opposition on West Lindsey District Council

Councillor Antony Moseley deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Blaby District Council

Councillor Tim Hallam deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Broxtowe Borough Council

Councillor Maureen Davenport deputy leader of the opposition on Chesterfield Borough Council

Councillor Ajit Atwal deputy leader of the Lib Dem group on Derby City Council

Councillor Roger Dunton deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Harborough District Council

Councillor David Hancock deputy leader of the Liberal democrat group on North East Derbyshire District Council

Councillor Lesley Rollings deputy leader of the opposition on West Lindsey District Council

Councillor Helen Tamblyn-Saville Bassetlaw District Council

Councillor Paul Hartshorn Blaby District Council

Councillor Mat Mortel Blaby District Council

Councillor Bev Welsh Blaby District Council

Councillor Barbara Carr Broxtowe Borough Council

Councillor David Grindell Broxtowe Borough Council

Councillor Hannah Land Broxtowe Borough Council

Councillor Ian Tyler Broxtowe Borough Council

Councillor David Watts Broxtowe Borough Council

Councillor Peter Barr Chesterfield Borough Council

Councillor Barry Bingham Chesterfield Borough Council and Derbyshire County Councillor

Councillor Howard Borrell Chesterfield Borough Council

Councillor Emily Coy Chesterfield Borough Council

Councillor Glenys Falconer Chesterfield Borough Council

Councillor Keith Falconer Chesterfield Borough Council

Councillor Ed Fordham Chesterfield Borough Council

Councillor Katherine Hollingworth Chesterfield Borough Council

Councillor Maggie Kellman Chesterfield Borough Council

Councillor Paul Niblock Chesterfield Borough Council

Councillor Shirley Niblock Chesterfield Borough Council

Councillor Nicholas Redihough Chesterfield Borough Council

Councillor Tony Rogers Chesterfield Borough Council

Councillor Tom Snowdon Chesterfield Borough Council

Councillor Kelly Thornton Chesterfield Borough Coucncil

Councillor Jonathan Harris Daventry District Council

Councillor Catherine Lomax Daventry District Council

Councillor Eric Ashburner Derby City Council

Councillor Lucy Care Derby City Council

Councillor Danielle Lind Derby City Council

Councillor Joe Naitta Derby City Council

Councillor Stephen Willoughby Derby City Council

Councillor Beth Atkins Derbyshire County Council

Councillor Martin Burfoot Derbyshire Dales District Council

Councillor Sue Burfoot Derbyshire Dales District Council and Derbyshire County Council

Councillor David Hughes Derbyshire Dales District Council

Councillor Robert Mee Erewash Borough Council

Councillor Andrew Ellwood Gedling Borough Council

Councillor Amanda Burrell Harborough District Council

Councillor Peter Elliott Harborough District Council

Councillor Dominic Fosker Harborough District Council

Councillor Mark Graves Harborough District Council

Councillor Barbara Johnson Harborough District Counci

Councillor Peter James Harborough District Council

Councillor Martin Sarfas Harborough District Council

Councillor Julie Simpson Harborough District Council

Councillor David Lomax High Peak District Council

Councillor Edith Longden High Peak District COuncil

Councillor Mark Bools Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Councillor Bill Crooks Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council and Leicestershire County Council

Councillor Martin Cartwright Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Councillor Dave Cope Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Councillor Joyce Crooks Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Councillor Danny Findlay Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Councillor Richard Flemming Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Councillor Scott Gibbens Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Councillor Dawn Glenville Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Councillor Lynda Hodgkins Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Councillor Ted Hollick Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Councillor Keith Lynch Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Councillor Linda Mullaney Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Councillor Keith Nichols Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Councillor Ann Pendlebury Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Councillor Barry Walker Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Councillor Robin Webber-Jones Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Councillor Paul Williams Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Councillor Andrew Dutton Kettering Borough Council

Councillor Sarah Hill Leicestershire County Council

Councillor Peter Harris Newark and Sherwood District Council

Councillor Pam Windley North East Derbyshire District Council

Councillor Angela Black North West Leicestershire District Council

Councillor Dennis Meredith Northampton Borough Council and Northamptonshire County Council

Councillor Bill Boulter Oadby and Wigston Borough Council and Leicestershire County Council

Councillor Linda Broadley Oadby and Wigston Borough Council and Leicestershire County Council

Councillor Dean Gamble Oadby and Wigston Borough Council and Leicestershire County Council

Councillor Jeff Kaufman Oadby and Wigston Borough Council and Leicestershire County Council

Councillor Lily Kaufman Oadby and Wigston Borough Council

Councillor Helen Loydall Oadby and Wigston Borough Council


Councillor Kevin Loydall Oadby and Wigston Borough Council

Councillor Richard Morris Oadby and Wigston Borough Council

Councillor Sharon Morris Oadby and Wigston Borough Council

Councillor Lizzie Howitt Rushcliffe Borough Council

Councillor Rod Jones Rushcliffe Borough Council

Councillor Annie Major Rushcliffe Borough Council

Councillor Joanna Burrows Rutland County Council

Councillor Abigail MacCartney Rutland County Council

Councillor Matthew Boles West Lindsey District Council and Lincolnshire County Council

Councillor Stephen Bunney West Lindsey District Councillor

Councillor Liz Clews West Lindsey District Council

Councillor David Cotton West Lindsey District Council

Councillor Dave Dobbie West Lindsey District Council

Councillor Keith Panter West Lindsey District Council

Councillor Judy Rainsforth West Lindsey District Council

Councillor James Snee West Lindsey District Council

Councillor Mandy Snee West Lindsey District Council

Councillor Angela White West Lindsey District Council