Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has criticised plans to create a unitary authority in Nottinghamshire, saying the county council seemed like it is ‘in despair’.
Mr Corbyn was speaking in Mansfield during a tour of BPR Medical, a firm which supplies complex technical components to the health industry.
Nottinghamshire County Council is working on a plan to scrap district and borough councils and replace them with a brand new council covering the whole county.
The Conservative-led council said the new authority would help make services more streamlined, and it is necessary to make the large savings the county needs to make.
But the Labour leader said today creating a new super council was ‘not an answer.’
He said: “It seems like a council in despair. Surely the issue is that people need schools, need libraries, need social care, need youth centres, need street cleaning, they need all the public services that local authorities provide.
“80 percent on average across the UK of local government income comes from central government, if that is cut as it has been dramatically over the last eight years, then something has to suffer.
“Wages have been frozen in the public sector, many have lost their jobs in the public sector, many people are working incredibly hard to cover for those that have already gone, and merely re-jigging boundaries isn’t going to solve that problem.
“The issue is the resources we put into the public services that we all rely on.
“Who pays the price for this? It’s young people without facilities they need, children in overcrowded schools, those who cannot get social care for older relatives, and it’s nearly always women, who have to give up their jobs for people in desperate need.
“It’s not an answer.”
Conservative councillor Kay Cutts is the leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, and represents the Radcliffe on Trent ward.
She has been one of the key supporters of the plan.
Responding to Mr Corbyn’s comments, she said: “It is precisely because we want to continue delivering excellent services that we need to modernise local government.
“It is a nonsense to campaign for more funding from the Government if we do not also review our current bureaucratic two-tier council structure, because a unitary council for Nottinghamshire would release almost £30 million more of our existing resources to be spent on front-line services.
“Jeremy Corbyn frequently seems to forget that the taxpayer foots the bill whether funding is raised centrally or locally, so we have a duty to examine every possible way of using public money more wisely.
“If Mr Corbyn checked his facts, he would know that there have already been cross-party representations to the Government from Nottinghamshire County Council, illustrating the financial pressure on local care services for vulnerable adults and children, as well as a campaign by East Midlands Councils illustrating the comparably low levels of infrastructure and economic development funding this region receives.”
Also present at the Labour leader’s visit today was Sonya Ward, the Labour candidate for Mansfield who will stand against Conservative Ben Bradley at the next general election.
Speaking about the plan for a unitary council, she said: “They haven’t done any public consultations, they have spoken to nobody, and it seems to be them trying to railroad it through.”
More details of the proposed new council are expected later this year.