Smaller councils in Staffordshire facing being abolished under new plans
Smaller councils in Staffordshire should be abolished in favour of a single authority for the whole of the county, a new report says.
The move, expected to be introduced across England, could save almost £3.5 billion in five years – and could save hundreds of thousands of pounds in Staffordshire.
But it would mean the end of district and borough councils that currently help run services in Cannock, Stafford and Lichfield.
The report, by PriceWaterhouseCooper, for the County Councils Network says one body in each area would give communities a single unified voice.
However, others argue bigger councils are difficult to manage because of their size.
The government is expected to publish its own proposals on overhauling local government in the autumn.
In Staffordshire, local government operates under a two-tier system, with both a county council and a district council providing services.
Staffordshire County Council’s responsibilities include education, social services and waste disposal.
The county is subdivided into areas represented by district councils, such as Cannock, Lichfield, Stafford and South Staffordshire councils. These councils are responsible for rubbish collection, housing and planning.
If the plans go ahead, the smaller councils will be scrapped for the one big authority.
Alan White, leader of Staffordshire County Council, said: “Our response to the pandemic has shown that in the Staffordshire the county, borough and district councils have worked together to respond to the challenges of Covid-19 and to lead economic recovery.
“As a county council we have long called for more powers to be devolved to local areas and here in Staffordshire we have a strong track record of working with other councils and organisations to grow the economy, improve people’s skills and upgrade infrastructure.
“Our immediate focus remains on helping residents and businesses though these difficult times by managing local outbreaks, supporting schools to reopen next week and working closely with care homes to give just a few examples.
“The Government’s Recovery and Devolution White Paper due later this year is expected to detail ways of moving power from Whitehall to the regions to support the post-pandemic recovery work already underway. We will be looking at the PWC report and examining the Government’s proposals in detail once they are published.”
Councillor Doug Pullen, leader of Lichfield District Council added: "We are aware of the content of this report from the County Councils Network. We must absolutely make sure that we have a form of local government which works best for our residents, and are awaiting publication of the White Paper on local government re-organisation that will set out what the Government’s proposals are before entering into any speculation on how we achieve that."