29th Oct, 2020

Labour councillors hit out at 'power grab' after vote to create 'super council'

Laura Kearns 1st Oct, 2020 Updated: 1st Oct, 2020

LABOUR councillors have hit out at a ‘power grab’ after the county council voted to create a ‘super council’.

At an emergency Warwickshire County Council cabinet meeting on Tuesday (September 29) councillors voted through a proposal to create a single local authority for Warwickshire. It will now be sent to government for approval.

It comes ahead of a government white paper on local reorganisation.

Council leader Izzi Seccombe says the proposed restructure will benefit residents, businesses and communities by providing a simpler structure and creating value for money.

The unitary authority would replace local borough and district councils and be based in Warwick.

But Labour councillors and Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western have blasted the move, saying the public have not been consulted.

In a joint statement, all Labour groups across the county said: “We accept there is a strong argument for local government reorganisation but there is not argument for doing so without consulting local people.

“We are dismayed the Conservatives have ploughed ahead with their plans to take away power without talking to the residents of this county. This isn’t democratic and it frankly isn’t right.

“The plan is simple, push through the changes now, cancel the local elections in 2021 and force thousands of key workers out of their jobs to create one single remote council.”

Mr Western added he will be raising the issue in Parliament.

He told the Observer: “This is plainly a naked power grab, rushed through in self-interest as opposed to the public interest.

“The people of Warwickshire must be consulted on proposals that shape how decisions are made in their county before any plan is put in place. For the county council to run roughshod over the public and vote through the ill-thought through plans to build a ’super-council’ without their consent undermines our democracy.

“I’ll be doing all I can in Parliament to stop this plan from going ahead until Warwickshire residents have their say.”

But Coun Seccombe says the council will be working with residents on proposed changes and has asked district and borough councils to set up a residents’ panel.

She added: “This meeting and our submission were not about deciding structures now, it was about beginning a process. The reports published by the county council and district and borough councils both endorse the view that the current model of local government is not sustainable and we will engage widely across Warwickshire.

“The interests of Warwickshire residents need all councils in Warwickshire to work together, and I have asked them to do so. We must ensure we remain ’one Warwickshire’.”

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