Express & Star

Scrap Staffordshire district councils and have one big authority - think tank argues

District councils should be scrapped or merged into Staffordshire County Council, a think-tank has said.

Cannock Chase District Council

The county’s existing two-tier system leads to overlapping services and problems, according to the ResPublica Trust.

A report states that district councils, such as Stafford, Cannock Chase, Lichfield and South Staffordshire, should be abolished with budgets and building portfolios transferred to parish or town councils.

The trust says if counties adopt a unitary authority structure £1.9 billion could be saved over five years across the country.

But Cannock Chase District Council leader, Councillor Geroge Adamson, said the move would be a ‘disaster’.

Phillip Blond, trust director, said: “The needless confusion that frustrates the ambitions of business and government alike in our county areas must end now.

“With Brexit on the horizon and our city-regions already benefitting from devolution, we can’t afford the waste and complication that the current system creates.

“Single councils at the county scale are the future and we call on the Government to move rapidly to encourage them.”

District councils handle issues including bin collections and planning applications, while the county council oversees areas such as education and social care.

Councillor Adamson said: “It would be a disaster for Cannock Chase. Due to the vastness of Cannock Chase we already struggle to get a good deal from the county council, they tend to favour Stafford and the north.

“We share a lot of services with Stafford Borough Council saving hundreds of thousands of pounds a year but we do not need one massive council, which would be so remote from the man and woman on the street.”

ResPublica will publish its full report – called Devo 2.0: The Case for Counties – at the annual County Council Network’s Annual Conference on Monday, which will be addressed by Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid.