Local Government re-organisation is a distraction from the very real issue of unfair Government funding of local authorities and the growing challenge of sustainable funding for social care services. However, if local government reorganisation has to happen, there should be one Nottingham and one council for an expanded city – not the current muddle of six councils that people in the urban parts of the conurbation are living with now.
The existing boundary between Nottingham and Nottinghamshire is an nonsensical anomaly from the 1998 local government reorganisation, leaving Nottingham at a disadvantage over other cities. Any local government reorganisation needs to be sustainable and future-proof and that should include a single council that serves the whole of urban Nottingham. Proposals based only on the County boundary would stifle Nottingham and Nottinghamshire’s potential growth and reduce accountability for city services. A new large county unitary’s focus would be diluted if it was trying to deliver services to former coalfields and growing market towns as well as fulfilling metropolitan duties in an arbitrary ring around Nottingham.
Currently, less than half (48.7%) of those who work in the city also live in the city – significantly less than for other comparable cities such as Sheffield (75.7%) and Leeds (70.5%.) Many people from outside the city make use of city services and its infrastructure and enjoy it as a destination for leisure, entertainment and shopping. But their Council Tax doesn’t contribute to funding the city services they use regularly and they are not in a position to hold Nottingham’s decision makers to account for choices made in the city that can significantly affect their daily lives.
The City Council has submitted a response to the County Council’s consultation into their plans and City residents should respond as well. There are ramifications for city residents if the County Council goes ahead with its proposals as currently drafted. The County Council’s proposals and consultation can be seen here: http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/local/future-nottinghamshire