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Lib Dems unite with UKIP calling for a restructuring of local Government in West Sussex

County Hall. Chichester.

County Hall. Chichester.

 

The Liberal democrats are calling for a new unitary authority to replace the existing two-tier structure of a county council and seven district and borough councils in West Sussex.

The move is echoed at County Hall by UKIP whose leader Mike Glennon has also tabled a motion for this Friday’s full council debate calling for a similar proposal.

Both motions are set against a backdrop of the Conservative administration bidding to save more than £100m from the county coucil’s budget over the coming years.

Dr Walsh said: “15 years ago I was on the other side of the debate and resolutely fought to keep two-tier Government, but I have totally changed my view in the last few years.

The reasons for the long-serving public servants’s change of opinion include addressing the confusion the public have over which authority provides which services, as well as the impact of the huge and growing financial pressures now facing local authorities.

It is hoped such a move could mitigate against proposed cuts to front line services.

“There are huge savings to be made,” said Dr Walsh. “Every district and borough council in West Sussex has a team of senior officers.

“Why is that necessary? It could be done by one team.”

The Lib Dem leader questioned by district and borough councils were responsible for collecting household waste while the county council is responsible or disposing of it.

“There is split planning responsibility too,” he added. “The county council has strategic planning, district and boroughs have local planning, and so it goes on and on.”

Mike Glennon from UKIP has estimated establishing a unitary authority for West Sussex could save £20m a year.

Dr Walsh said: “I think that could be an underestimate, but even at £20m it is certainly worth having and cumulatively it does add up.”

Although diametrically opposed over Europe, UKIP and the Liberal Democrats are united in calling for a unitary authority.

The Liberal Democrat leader, the longest serving councillor at County Hall, added: “It is wider than that too because there is considerable amongst Conservatives too, although I suspect on Friday they’ll be whipped to vote against it because it is coming from UKIP and the Lib Dems.”

The Full Council meets at County Hall, Chichester at 9.30am on Friday February 14.

The Lib Dem motion states: “In view of the considerable reduction in local government income from central government, the reduction of the volume and nature of direct services from local authorities, the division of responsibilities between different tiers, and the resulting confusion among many local residents about who does what, this Council resolves to ask the Leader set up a Committee to investigate the service benefits and savings to local taxation of moving to one or two unitary authorities for West Sussex, and if and when appropriate, to press the Government to facilitate this.”

 

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