'District and borough councils in Warwickshire are going to disappear' - merger between Stratford and Warwick district councils gets the backing from MPs

Leader stresses that merger would be best option and would save services

Stratford District Council has no future according to its current leader but he assured fellow councillors that a merger with Warwick District Council did have the backing of the region’s MPs.
Stratford District Council has no future according to its current leader but he assured fellow councillors that a merger with Warwick District Council did have the backing of the region’s MPs.

Stratford District Council has no future according to its current leader but he assured fellow councillors that a merger with Warwick District Council did have the backing of the region’s MPs.

Cllr Tony Jefferson (Con, Welcombe) also warned that if the two authorities failed to join forces then there would need to be cuts to services as officers battled to balance the books.

The council leader was answering questions at a special overview and scrutiny committee today (Wednesday) ahead of a full council meeting on Monday (February 22) when councillors will be asked to support plans to create a South Warwickshire super district by April 2024. The matter will be discussed at Warwick District Council two days later.

Cllr Jefferson said: “What comes out of all this is one very clear point - the district and borough councils in Warwickshire are going to disappear.

Advertisement

“Warwickshire County Council has already made a submission for a single Warwickshire unitary - that is now on the table with the department. So at the end of the day, if we do not merge with Warwick and if the other three boroughs [Rugby, North Warwickshire and Nuneaton and Bedworth] do not get together there will almost certainly be a single Warwickshire unitary council.

“Stratford District Council is going to disappear and the choice facing us is between in essence being one of two - getting together with Warwick - or being one of six if we end up as a single Warwickshire unitary. Life is not going to stay the same, there is no point pretending it is.”

David Buckland, the council’s chief executive, explained that virtual meetings had been held with his counterpart at Warwick and those at other councils where mergers had been successful and they had offered their advice and assistance.

Cllr Sarah Whalley-Hoggins (Con, Brailes and Compton) asked what services could be at risk if the merger failed to go ahead and was told that it would be the council’s discretionary functions that would be most at risk.

Advertisement

Cllr Jefferson added: “If you look at the medium term financial plan you will see from 2022/23 there are savings identified that would take out things like Ubus. The reality is that we would have to follow that up and take out even more services to balance the budget. We would need to save about an additional £1.25m per year.

"All the districts and boroughs are united in not wanting a single Warwickshire unitary. That is one of the reasons why we are working on a joint district. The consensus among the MPS is that a two unitary solution would be preferred.”

And on the thorny subject of where a South Warwickshire Council would be based, he added: "We will have to do work out what kind of HQ we will want and in an ideal world it would probably not be in Warwick, Leamington or Stratford - but that’s a decision for another day."