Stratford-on-Avon District Council and Warwick District Council are moving towards the next step: "To create a single statutory South Warwickshire Council covering all of the activities currently carried out by Stratford-on-Avon District Council and Warwick District Council by 2024."
Next week, both Councils will be making important decisions on the future shape and delivery of Council services in South Warwickshire.
Cllr Tony Jefferson, Leader of Stratford-on-Avon District Council says: "The COVID pandemic has had an enormous impact on our communities and the Council. The Deloitte report clearly identifies that there are significant benefits from our two authorities continuing to integrate; without this there would be even more challenging decisions required from both authorities. Without doubt, this is one of the most significant issues in the history of the District Council."
The Deloitte report will be presented to the District Council's Cabinet on Tuesday 9 February, where Members will be discussing the future relationship between the two Councils, before final recommendations go to Full Council on Monday 22 February.
The options for The Cabinet are as follows:
- To receive or to reject the Deloitte report "Creating a South Warwickshire Council".
- To either support the principle of pursuing further integration between
Stratford-on-Avon District Council and Warwick District Council to the point of a full merger of the organisations.
- Subject to option 2:
- For the Chief Executive to develop proposals for a full merger between Stratford-on-Avon District Council and Warwick District Council in order to create a South Warwickshire Council.
- That the sum of £100,000 pa for the period 2021/22 to 2023/24 be provided to ensure that there is sufficient programme management support the guide the Council through this the transition to a full merger.
Agenda for The Cabinet on Tuesday, 9th February, 2021, 3.30 p.m. | Stratford-on-Avon District Council
Cllr Andrew Day, Leader of Warwick District Council says: "Out of crisis often comes opportunity. Our two Councils have much in common and working together we've been able to respond positively to the pandemic. The local Recovery Plan will be strengthened if Councillors decide to take this historic step, giving an opportunity to improve local government services across South Warwickshire, generating greater value for our residents and taxpayers."
Warwick District Council will be discussing the report at their Executive on Thursday
11 February before going before its Full Council on Wednesday 24 February. The recommendations are the same.
Reasons for this proposal
- Recognised that the sense of place between the two authorities needs to be maintained
- Louder voice sub-regionally for residents and stakeholders
- Financial pressures from COVID and reductions in Government Support
- To help retain as many valuable services as possible
There are many similarities between the two Councils
- Shared economic geography - WDC and SDC have the highest GVAs in the West Midlands
- Shared sense of community between authorities
- Strong political relationships between Leaders
- Within the same County Council area
The Councils also share two management roles - Head of Community & Operational Services (SDC title) and Head of ICT and wider integration of both Management Teams is expected during 2021.
Work has also started on the production of joint local plan and a joint procurement process has started for a joint refuse and recycling contract.
The report from Deloittes concluded:
This high-level business case has demonstrated that there is a strong strategic, economic, financial and operational case for the merging of the two Councils for the following reasons:
- Government policy appears to be encouraging councils to operate at greater scale, and super-districts have been encouraged by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government recently. Creating a super-district, therefore, fits with Government policy and thinking.
- A super-district would have a stronger strategic voice with stakeholders, be more able more easily to enter into partnership arrangements with other organisations, benefit from increased capacity and resilience with a larger pool of resources in all functional areas, deliver improved customer experience by delivering greater consistency of approach, particularly for customers operating across both districts, and be a more effective employer by creating a structure that offers more career opportunities and greater appeal in the jobs market.
- Merging the two Councils builds on a long-term strategic trend of significant collaboration between the two organisations. It also builds on strong foundations as there are similarities between the two Councils.
- A super-district may be better placed to deal with some of the significant strategic issues facing South Warwickshire including the economy, housing or climate change.
- Both Councils face significant financial pressures and need to make savings; merging the councils provides the potential to improve the financial position and ensure that local government can continue to deliver or improve services for local communities.
- A financial assessment has been carried out of the potential costs and benefits. This has found a potential opportunity to generate annual net savings of £4.6m after Year 5.
- The super-district could speak up for the interests of the place and the discrete local communities within it, creating a stronger, unified voice than currently exists, ensuring the place's voice is heard at a strategic level.
- It could support local government in South Warwickshire to deal with the significant economic challenges it faces by creating stronger services such as an aggregated planning function with one local plan that delivers for residents and business. Merging the Councils would also create a more powerful voice for the South Warwickshire economy that can work within and influence existing partnership organisations and structures such as the WMCA and the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP. Within the WMCA, when GVA is examined, the proposed South Warwickshire economy is the second biggest, second only to Birmingham.
- The super-district could improve service delivery across South Warwickshire through delivering economies of scale and making reinvestments in services to drive innovation, assessing the variation in performance and cost of delivery of services across both Councils, and under a single management structure, delivering greater performance consistency by applying best practice and reducing variation, strengthening its managerial leadership, as larger councils are more likely to be able to offer a better compensation package and varied career opportunities.