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Creation of a super-district on the table for South Warwickshire

todayFebruary 7, 2021

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Stratford-on-Avon District Council and Warwick District Council are moving towards creating a single statutory South Warwickshire Council by 2024, covering all activities currently carried out by both councils.

Next week, both Councils will be making important decisions on the future shape and delivery of Council services in South Warwickshire.

Andrew Day, Leader of Warwick District Council says: “Out of crisis often comes opportunity. Our two Councils have much in common and working together we’ve been able to respond positively to the pandemic. The local Recovery Plan will be strengthened if Councillors decide to take this historic step, giving an opportunity to improve local government services across South Warwickshire, generating greater value for our residents and taxpayers.”

The Deloitte report will be presented to Warwick District Council’s Executive on Thursday 11th February, where Members will be discussing the future relationship between the two Councils, before final recommendations go to Full Council on Wednesday 24 February.

Tony Jefferson, Leader of Stratford-on-Avon District Council says: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on our communities and the Council. The Deloitte report clearly identifies that there are significant benefits from our two authorities continuing to integrate; without this there would be even more very challenging decisions required from both authorities.  Without doubt, this is one of the most significant issues in the history of the District Council.”

Stratford-on-Avon District Council will be discussing the report at their Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 9th February before going before its Full Council on Monday 22 February. The recommendations are the same.

There are many reasons for this proposal, such as a shared sense of place between the two authorities, both having the highest GVAs in the West Midlands, which needs to be maintained. And with financial pressures from the pandemic and reductions in government support, the retention of valuable services and a louder voice sub-regionally for residents and stakeholders is imperative.

It is clear from the Deloitte report that there is a strong strategic, economic, financial and operational case for the merging of the two Councils. In fact, government policy appears to be encouraging councils to operate at greater scale, and super-districts have been encouraged by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government recently. Creating a super-district, therefore, fits with government policy and thinking.

Additionally, a super-district would have a stronger strategic voice with stakeholders, be more able to enter into partnership arrangements with other organisations, benefit from increased capacity and resilience with a larger pool of resources in all functional areas, deliver improved customer experience by delivering greater consistency of approach, particularly for customers operating across both districts, and be a more effective employer by creating a structure that offers more career opportunities and greater appeal in the jobs market.

A financial assessment has also been carried out of the potential costs and benefits. This has found a potential opportunity to generate annual net savings of £4.6m after Year 5. The proposed South Warwickshire Council will have to deal with significant economic challenges in the near future, and creating stronger services such as an aggregated planning function with one local plan that delivers for residents and business will be one way to tackle the complex tasks that are to come.

Written by: Aaron

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