Councillor raises concerns over the approaching deadline for submitting plans to merge Warwick and Stratford district councils

Councillor Andy Crump said he was worried about both authorities' capacity to manage the merger plans along with other projects in the 'shortened timsescale' which ends in six months

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 4:49 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th May 2021, 6:12 pm
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Concerns over the six-month deadline for submitting plans to merge Stratford and Warwick district councils have been flagged up by a councillor whose ward borders the two areas.

Cllr Andy Crump (Con, Southam South) raised the matter during this week’s [Wednesday] overview and scrutiny meeting of Stratford District Council when chief executive David Buckland brought members up-to-date with developments.

Asked about the timescale for presenting the plans to the Government, Mr Buckland explained that key decisions and public consultation needed to be done by the end of the year.

He said: “The vision that was adopted by council was to merge the two authorities by April 2024.

"Working back from that, the view from the officials when we met with them last week was that the council would need to make a submission by Christmas this year to meet that particular time scale - the council meeting in December would be the reckoning point, the ‘go/no go’ date for taking that merger forward.”

Cllr Crump expressed his concern at the amount of work that needed doing, adding: “Obviously we have been through a heck of a lot in the past 12 or 18 months with regards to workload .

"I have some concerns as to whether we have the capacity to manage this as well as our other projects particularly in this shortened timescale.”

Mr Buckland replied: “Resources of £100,000 per year, per council, were made available for the programme - whether that is sufficient in time we will have to review.

"The idea of working together was to achieve the bigger prize of recurring savings of circa £1.5m per local authority to ensure that, as we move forward, we are still financially viable.

"So it is whether we can afford not to do it.”

The chief executive also explained the process Whitehall would go through when looking at the merger plans.

He said: “In the conversation we had with the Government last week it is clear that there’s three criteria that any proposition for a merger would need to satisfy.

“The first is evidence that the merger would improve local government in the place.

"The second is that there is evidence that the proposal commands a good deal of local support - that is public support but also other public sector bodies within the locality so town and parish councils, the county council, police and crime commissioner and the heath authority would all be consulted to determine their preference.

“The third criteria is that the area, in view of the Secretary of State, is a credible geography which consists of two or more local authority areas which are adjacent and in a county council boundary.”