Root and Branch Reform of Local Government?

September 1, 2020 12:06 PM

Do residents want local government rooted in their community or just another branch of central Government?

In a short time, the government will publish a White Paper on devolution for local government. This will signal a dramatic change in the way Councils such as Mole Valley are operated. However, Tory-run Surrey County Council, rather than wait for such guidance and allow for public consultation, has already applied for the County Council to become a single Unitary Authority. This would mean all the Districts and Boroughs, such as Mole Valley District Council would disappear and be replaced with one 'monster' authority.

David Draper

Councillor David Draper

Cllr. David Draper, Councillor for Dorking North and Deputy Leader of Mole Valley District Council, stated: "I believe residents value a local Council and Councillors, rooted in their community, who can relate to their personal issues as well as those of their towns and villages. One Council, for around 1.2 million people, would be too distant and far more ineffective."

If created, such an authority would be larger than almost any Council in England. As such it is hardly likely to be interested in the everyday issues which effect residents in Mole Valley. Surrey County Council's record in areas such as Children's Services and Social Care is already well below standard and provides little comfort that this model would improve the aspects of work currently undertaken by our District Council.

Given that the current system of two-tier local government needs some streamlining, other answers would be far more beneficial. Whilst keeping the status quo could be an option the creation of three Unitary Authorities taking on the responsibilities of both Surrey and the current Districts and Boroughs would provide far greater local connection as well as offer the value for money and potential savings such reorganisation is designed to bring.

Cllr. Draper went on to say, "Once the White paper is published, our Liberal Democrat Council will do all it can to involve our residents fully in the consultation process to potentially change our local government structures. We are determined that the needs of residents should be paramount in any decision making, and the final result provide a council structure that continues to serve you in the best possible way."

Once the White Paper has been published Mole Valley Liberal Democrats will be carefully scrutinising the contents and will set out their ideas for the best way forward.