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Anger as County Council chiefs push on with plan to abolish districts

September 24, 2020 10:15 AM
Originally published by Leicestershire Liberal Democrats

There's been an angry reaction to the decision last Friday by the Leicestershire Conservative County Council's decision to press on with one Unitary authority for all of Leicestershire. This would mean the abolition of the seven district and Boroughs in the county. The meeting supported Tory council leader Nick Rushton writing to the government on behalf of the county council to signal to government their wish to press on with one unitary authority for the county.

This is in line with similar moves being pushed on towards Unitaries by Conservative county council leaderships in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. The Leicestershire cabinet meeting received written representations from Lib Dem Finance spokesman County Councillor Michael Mullaney who opposed the plans. Whilst a letter from Labour group leader Terry Eynon on behalf of the Labour group supported a Unitary in principle though questioned the timing of the plans.

Reacting to the decision by the County Council's cabinet Lib Dem Councillor Michael Mullaney said "A Unitary authority for Leicestershire, scrapping districts and Boroughs like Hinckley and Bosworth and creating one authority for a large and diverse county like Leicestershire would I believe be wrong at anytime. However to undergo such a disruptive process during the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic is particularly mistaken.

"Research has shown that large Unitaries tend to make local government less local whilst at the same time there is mixed findings on whether it actually makes any significant cost savings. A single Unitary authority for 700,000 people spread across over 800 square miles of villages and Towns in Leicestershire would I believe lead to many communities on the edge of the county, like mine in Hinckley, being cut off from decision making. I hope the Conservative bosses at County Hall rethink and drop these centralising, disruptive, plans to abolish the Leicestershire districts and Boroughs.

"Rather than abolishing districts and boroughs the Tory County Council and our counties seven Tory MPs should be lobbying their government to bring in fair funding for Leicestershire. At present we are the worst funded area for local government by the Conservative government. This is understandably putting pressure on our local services. It's time for Tory County Council leader Nick Rushton to abandon the Unitary plans for Leicestershire and renew efforts to get his councillors and county Tory MPs to deliver the fair funding from government people in Leicestershire deserve."