Pickles ‘no’ to changes

By Chris Smith Friday 14 March 2014 Updated: 14/03 10:47

THE MINISTER in charge of Local Government appears to have quashed plans to create one authority to run council services in Warwickshire.

As the Standard reported last week, Warwickshire County Council has voted through plans proposals to carry out detailed investigations into merging district and borough councils with the county council to create one large organisation responsible for everything from collecting rubbish to road repairs.

Early estimates suggest the move would save cash-strapped councils £50million a year, cut council tax for residents, including those in Studley and Alcester, and make the system simpler for people to understand.

But when questioned on the issue in the House of Commons recently, Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said: “I said before the last General Election that any local authority official who came to me with a proposal for a reorganisation would be met with a pearl-handled revolver that I kept in my desk. It sounds as though it is time to oil the thing again.”

He added: “We have no intention of carrying out a re-organisation. Any spending on a re-organisation is a fundamental waste of taxpayers’ money.”

The move suggests a split in the Conservative party over the plans with Tory county council leader Izzi Seccombe, who put forward the move, describing the response as disappointing.

“This is a conversation that has been going on for years in the corridors but no-one has ever had those conversations out in the open and that’s what I have started,” she said.

“We have to face up to the reality and that is in the current financial climate we will have stop providing services and we don’t want to do that. The budgets and powers will still be there locally, but we keep the strategic overview.”

Stratford District Council leader Chris Saint has said he was keeping an open mind and listening to all sides of the debate, while county councillors in Studley and Alcester have stated they are not against the idea.

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