Published on 8 October 2021
Archived on 8 November 2021
With just a fortnight to go until the end of the public consultation, the Leaders of Stratford-on-Avon and Warwick District Councils are urging all sectors of the community to have their say whether the two Councils should formally merge.
Through an online survey, residents are invited to share their views on the creation of a single South Warwickshire Council to carry out services such as waste collection, local planning, housing, management of parks and sports facilities, licensing, business support and environmental health, currently delivered separately by the two district authorities.
Cllr Andrew Day, Leader of Warwick District Council says: "Council services touch all our lives in many ways, so it matters that we get them right. These are challenging times, that offer an opportunity to renew and update local government across South Warwickshire. We are focused on meeting the changing needs of communities today, to take practical steps to address the local impact of climate change and to foster new business growth.
"To do this effectively, we need to hear from our residents, community groups and businesses so we know what's really important."
Cllr Tony Jefferson, Leader of Stratford-on-Avon District Council says: "The world is changing rapidly, and we cannot stand aside from that. With both Councils facing financial challenges, we need to find solutions. This is an extremely important consultation that relates to vital local services and the future our local democracy."
"This decision on whether to merge needs to be the made with the backing and consideration of the views of the wider community, it is therefore vital that as many people as possible take the opportunity to get involved."
The consultation document and online questionnaire can be viewed and completed at: https://www.southwarwickshire.org.uk/ until midnight on Sunday 24 October.
Further information on how to take part.
Questionnaires for completion on paper, as well as in different languages and formats can be requested by emailing: email@example.com or calling 01789 267575. The paper questionnaires are returned using a FREEPOST address.
Questionnaires are also available to pick up at the following locations:
What happens next?
The findings from the consultation will be considered, along with any other evidence, at a meeting of the councils on 13 December 2021. A decision will be taken as to whether they want to formally ask government to allow the councils to merge.
The deadline for completing the survey is Sunday 24 October 2021.
Why we are doing this?
Both Stratford-on-Avon and Warwick councils are facing a very uncertain financial future. Government funding for all councils has reduced in recent years and it is estimated that both councils will have shortfalls increasing to around £4-6m per year by 2025/26.
Across the two councils this means that annual savings of around £10m each year are needed over the next five years. This level of annual savings is about one-third of the combined costs of the councils.
Whilst some financial reserves are held by both councils these have already been reduced by the impact of COVID and are largely ear-marked for essential future expenditure. It would not be prudent or financially sustainable to use these reserves to supplement annual running costs.
Faced with this financial pressure, and with a determination not to reduce the current level of services, both Stratford-on-Avon and Warwick District Councils have been exploring several options, including:
The Councils believe that merely sharing some services does not make sufficient financial savings and still leaves considerable duplication.
Stratford-on-Avon and Warwick District Councils are therefore considering a proposal to merge, in which case a new District Council would be established covering the whole of South Warwickshire (the areas currently covered by Stratford-on-Avon and Warwick District Councils).
The Councils have appointed Opinion Research Services (ORS), an independent social research company, to manage the consultation and objectively report the outcomes.
As well as the public questionnaire the research agency, ORS, will be undertaking a telephone survey with a sample of residents selected to match the profile of both districts. Focus groups will also be held with residents, again matching the profile of both districts. There will also be focus groups with businesses, Town and Parish Councils, plus voluntary and community groups.
Stratford-on-Avon District Council
Elizabeth House, Church Street,
Tel: 01789 267575