A statement from Cllr Morris Bright MBE, leader of Hertsmere Borough Council, and the nine other district and borough council leaders against Hertfordshire County Council's proposal for a single unitary council for Hertfordshire to serve the 1.2 million residents of the county.
"District councils have provided a lifeline to residents and communities during the Covid-19 pandemic, providing food and welfare support to those in great difficulty, paying over £149 million in grants to local businesses across the county to help their prospects of survival, housing over 1,000 homeless people during the pandemic and providing vital services from waste collection to the management of many thousands of council homes. "Local knowledge and local services have been vital in supporting residents, from those suffering the effects of domestic abuse, through to looking after parks and green spaces for people to enjoy.
"The district and borough council leaders believe the timing of the county council’s proposal is poor given the need to ensure there is an absolute focus on supporting their communities and businesses to recover from the devastating effects of Covid-19.
"The Hertfordshire district and borough councils have demonstrated great innovation to save over £95m during the last ten years to protect services for residents.
"The leaders are opposed to the proposal for a single unitary council to serve Hertfordshire’s residents, as it would be too large and remote to support local communities and residents, and around three times larger than the size that the Government is likely to consider suitable for local areas.
"The leaders have worked together with the county council very effectively through the Hertfordshire Growth Board for over two years to develop a comprehensive programme that will build on Hertfordshire’s potential and believe that they can continue to make progress as a group of 11 authorities representing the distinct communities of Hertfordshire.
"The leaders will now work together along with other key partners and will take into account the views of residents to help inform the development of alternative options for consideration by Government alongside the county council’s single unitary council proposal.
"This will be done with the aim of ensuring that any future model for local government in Hertfordshire is both effective and efficient whilst also providing proper representation for residents.
"It is not helpful to speculate at this stage about what that might look like as it requires a great deal of work to be done to identify the right solution."
The leaders of the 10 Hertfordshire district and borough councils are:
Cllr Morris Bright MBE, Hertsmere Borough Council
Cllr Lewis Cocking, Broxbourne Borough Council
Cllr Andrew Williams, Dacorum Borough Council
Cllr Linda Haysey, East Herts District Council
Cllr Martin Stears-Handscomb, North Hertfordshire District Council
Cllr Chris White, St Albans City and District Council
Cllr Sharon Taylor, Stevenage Borough Council
Cllr Sara Bedford, Three Rivers District Council
Mayor Cllr Peter Taylor, Watford Borough Council
Cllr Tony Kingsbury, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
Posted on Monday 20th July 2020