Today (July 12), Nottinghamshire County Council will vote on whether to go ahead with a plan to abolish all seven county and district councils in Nottinghamshire.
If it’s approved, Nottingham City Council said it will begin formalising its own rival plan to more than double the size of Nottingham, by expanding into West Bridgford, Gedling, Arnold, Carlton and Hucknall.
These plans would then be considered by the Government.
If either of them go ahead, it would mean lots of changes for hundreds of thousands of people – but how exactly would it affect you?
There’s a huge amount still up in the air, and the scheme may yet fall at the first hurdle tomorrow, but we’ve had a look at what the re-organisation could mean for residents.
So what are the options?
There are three different options.
Option One – Do nothing. Currently people living in Nottinghamshire are covered by a district or borough council, and the county council. This is called two-tier authority.
Option Two – Scrap all seven district and borough councils, and the county council, and create a brand new council for all of the county. This is called a unitary authority. Opponents say this would remove local decision making. Supporters say it would save money.
Option Three – Create a unitary authority for Nottinghamshire, and eventually expand the city’s border to include the wider urban area.
Would I be affected?
If you live in Nottinghamshire, then yes. If the borders of Nottingham are changed, people in most parts of Stapleford, Beeston, Toton, Arnold, Carlton, Gedling, Hucknall and West Bridgford would come become part of the the city council.
Complex laws mean the city boundaries are unlikely to change at the same time as the new council being created, but possibly a few years later.
Why is this happening?
There are lots of reasons, but money is central.
The amount of money councils get from the Government has fallen dramatically.
At the same time, demand on the council for social care and children’s care has gone up.
This has caused a financial squeeze on councils.
Has this happened elsewhere?
Yes and no. Some areas have created unitary authorities from two-tier before, but they have tended to be in areas dominated by either Labour or the Conservatives, so consensus was easier to come by.
Nottinghamshire’s politics is about as diverse as it gets. Of the districts and boroughs, three are run by Conservatives, two by Labour and two by independents. The county is run by a Conservative-led coalition, and the city is dominated by Labour.
This has meant it’s been difficult to get everyone to agree.
Who will collect my bins?
If the new super council goes ahead, then it will be the new council that provides all services.
Currently, some services are done by the county, and some by the districts or boroughs. The new council would stop that and become responsible for all services.
What will it be called?
It wouldn’t be a county council, so the new authority would likely be called Nottinghamshire Council.
Where will it be based?
The most obvious place would be at County Hall, but this is yet to be confirmed. Or even discussed!
How much will it save?
The cost savings could be significant. In Dorset, where a similar scheme is in the pipeline, bosses hope the £25 million investment would be paid back in less than a year, and that there would be savings of around £28 million a year afterwards.
Leicestershire is also considering a similar scheme, and bosses there say it could save £30 million a year.
When might all this happen?
It’s likely to take two years at the very least. Dorset, where there is a lot of political consensus, hope to finish the process in two-and-a-half years.
What are the benefits?
Supporters of the scheme say the huge amount of work that would go into re-organisation would pay off in the end.
They say it would make things simpler for residents, who would only have one council to interact with.
Those in favour also say it would mean the council could take a county-wide approach to infrastructure such as roads and house building.
What about the drawbacks?
The many vocal critics of re-organisation have raised a wide range of concerns.
They say it would take decision making away from local people.
Some say the new council would ‘asset-strip’, by selling off council-owned land and buildings.
There is also a fear that the new authority would simply be ‘too big,’ and would lose touch with the residents.
Kit Sandeman , Local Democracy Reporting Service