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Surrey's leaders welcome clarity on local government reorganisation

Date: 

Wednesday, 14 October, 2020

Surrey Leaders' Group welcomes the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG’s) recent announcement and clarity on local government reorganisation.

MHCLG makes it clear there is no compulsion for proposals for reform of local government in two tier areas nor a need for structural change, but that any work going on should:

  • be based on locally-led improvements
  • be based on locally-led proposals for any council restructuring, rather than top-down Whitehall solutions being imposed on local areas.

This direction provided to local government makes Surrey Leaders’ ‘Putting Residents First’ campaign and its work with consultancy firm KPMG to rethink how local government operates across the county even more pertinent and timely. Surrey Leaders will focus their work on solutions meeting the MHCLG’s direction, which means that an element of its original work – to explore unitary solutions – will be paused. The collection of data and decision making could be used in the future if required.

Surrey Leaders are inviting Surrey County Council to join this campaign, which is working up proposals and ways of delivering reform, including joint working with other partners and closer collaboration.

This campaign utilises the benefits of Surrey’s existing two-tier local government system, building on strong local relationships and networks, at the same time as using districts and boroughs ability to identify and respond quickly to local need, as seen during the response to the Covid-19 crisis.

Cllr Nick Prescot, Leader of Runnymede Borough Council and Chairman of the Surrey Leaders' Group, said: “We welcome this recent direction provided by Government. We want to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the support and services our residents receive, in a way that respects and reflects the needs and differences of our many different communities and neighbourhoods.

"We have 11 districts and boroughs in Surrey and we believe it’s vital that decision making remains local and democratic accountability between councillor and resident remains strong. Local government demands local expertise and we look forward to engaging with local residents, businesses and organisations in our work.

"We would welcome Surrey County Council joining this important work so that all 12 councils in Surrey can work together in a partnership of equals for the benefit of our residents. Putting Residents First.”