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Monday, 10 August 2020 09:35

Spelthorne responds to Unitary Authority Plans

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Further to the article published on this site on 3rd August, the Council has released the following press notice:

"Spelthorne Borough Council has set out its response to plans from Surrey County Council to form a single unitary authority.

"Under the current proposals from the County Council, the 11 Districts and Boroughs would be merged together to form a single unitary authority.

They report that it would give the county council greater decision-making powers for Surrey, for example on housing and planning applications.

"Spelthorne do not believe this would be advantageous to our residents and at last week’s Council meeting, Cllr John Boughtflower, Leader of Spelthorne Borough Council said: “We recognise the principles of localism, many of which are incompatible with a single unitary authority within Surrey. We will be investigating alternative forms of Unitary Authorities, which may be more advantageous to Spelthorne and our residents. In the meantime, I will be joining other Borough and District Leaders across Surrey in signing a letter to the Secretary of State registering that a Surrey-wide Unitary is not the optimum solution and that we are committed to exploring what would be.”

"An extract from the letter, signed by Cllr Boughtflower and other Council leaders across the County, read: “The Government has indicated that as an optimum guideline, unitary authorities should represent populations of between 300,000 and 500,000 people per administration. A single unitary authority for Surrey would represent 1.2m people and this would be equivalent to only the larger of metropolitan areas but without the clear sense of locality recognisable to residents across a vastly different geographical spread. Further to this, it would be the largest unitary in England. This is one of the reasons why it is so necessary to evaluate other options which may represent localities (and the characteristics of Surrey communities) more appropriately.”

"Spelthorne, along with other districts and boroughs, have committed to seeking alternative forms of Unitary Authorities and ensure the timing of any such reorganisation is done with residents at first. The Council have also committed to present such considerations to the next Full Council Meeting, which would consider the Government White Paper, should it be available."

2 comments

  • Comment Link Gavin Smith Tuesday, 18 August 2020 11:10 posted by Gavin Smith

    I also am horrified by the idea of a single, Surrey Unitary Authority. We all know how ‘well regarded’ (haha) Spelthorne is within Surrey CC (apparently, we are referred to as ‘The Reservation’ - how disgustingly patronising). A Spelthorne Unitary would no doubt be considered too small by itself, though the Berkshire Unitary councils work very well and their populations are similar to Spelthorne’s. I’d rather that Spelthorne joined the rest of Middlesex in Greater London, especially as our Green Belt Land would remain so and we’d receive vast improvements in public transport, plus pay a fair bit less council tax! Something to think about.

  • Comment Link Ed Jackson Monday, 17 August 2020 19:15 posted by Ed Jackson

    I would sooner see Spelthorne as a Unitary Authority than have all local decisions taken remotely by Surrey County Council. While, before the most recent clearout, Spelthorne may not have enjoyed a record of financial probity with its behind-locked-doors decisions relating to risky £1 billion investments in commercial property, it nevertheless stands several feet taller than SCC.
    Spelthorne has no historical connection to Surrey which sees the area as its dumping ground for things like the waste disposal unit. Call it a 'park' if you like, it's still the local dump - except it's now the county's dump!
    I urge Spelthorne to resist this power grab by Surrey, and make its own bid to become a Unitary Authority instead.

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