Unitary Authority – Answers to some questions you may have about the proposals

Nottinghamshire County Council © westbridgfordwire.com
Nottinghamshire County Council © westbridgfordwire.com

If you have questions about Nottinghamshire County Council’s proposals to create a so-called ‘Super Council’ – a Unitary Authority – here are some of the frequently asked questions and answers from the council. 

1. Will this affect Nottingham City Council?

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No, our current thinking does not affect the City Council’s administrative area as this has been a separate local government area operating as a unitary authority since 1998. The City Council will have the opportunity to share its views as part of any consultation if proposal are made, and could make their own proposal in the fullness of time if they so wish.

2. Is this a Nottinghamshire County Council takeover?

Absolutely not. We are exploring options which include replacing all eight two-tier councils and designing a new system of local government in Nottinghamshire that may result in the creation of a completely new council or councils, based around whatever boundaries are eventually agreed.

3. Why aren’t we holding a referendum?

The purpose of engagement and consultation is not to seek a simple Yes / No response, but to consider a range of issues and options for change. It is important that we understand the public’s views on all these matters before proposals are made and any decisions taken on whether or not to make a recommendation to Government.

4. Are the District and Borough Councils involved?

The seven District and Borough councils in Nottinghamshire have all been contacted. They are encouraged to take part in this engagement process and their views have been sought.

5. What do we mean by a two-tier structure?

A two-tier structure is where some local authority services are provided by the County Council and other services by the Borough or District Councils within the same area. Nottinghamshire currently operates on a two-tier structure.

6. What is a single-tier structure? What is a unitary authority?

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A single- tier structure is where there is just one level of local government responsible for
all local services in the area. A single-tier structure is known as a unitary authority. All local authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland operate as unitary councils, as do some 55 authorities in England, such as Cornwall, Northumberland and Wiltshire County Councils. Nottingham City Council is a unitary council.

7. Who is writing the case for change? Why are you using consultants?

The case for change will be written by County Council officers and will take into consideration the views of residents and other key stakeholders, such as businesses and health partners.
We have commissioned an independent social research company (ORS) to undertake all
the engagement activities to provide an independent analysis of the findings. We will also commission an independent company to confirm that any financial information in the case for change is accurate.

8. How will my views be listened to?

As an independent social research company, ORS will be responsible for analysing and presenting the feedback from the engagement exercise to the County Council – to inform the councillors’ consideration of the case for change.
ORS has extensive experience of important consultations across the public sector, including with NHS, Police and Fire and Rescue Services, as well as major local government reorganisation consultations across Dorset, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire. They are a Market Research Society Company Partner and Partner in Excellence of the Consultation Institute.

9. How much will this cost and how much will it save?

The detailed costs and savings of the options being considered will be presented in the case for change at the County Council meeting in December. Independent accountants will validate the financial models that are included in the case for change.

10. Will the case for change look at more than one option?

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Yes. The case for change will look at options available within the existing Nottinghamshire boundaries that meet the Government criteria.

11. Does this affect the District & Borough Council elections in May 2019?

No. Any final decision on whether to submit the case for change to Government will be considered by the County Council after the District and Borough elections. All councils in Nottinghamshire will continue to provide their existing services to residents until such time as any proposed change may be agreed by central Government and a timetable for transition has been set out.

12. What will this mean for Council Tax?

We do not know at this stage as any changes to council tax would be decided by any new council if one was to be formed. There are a range of implications/options in respect of council tax and these will be examined in the case for change.

13. What will you do with my response?

Any information provided to ORS (via the questionnaire and/or by any submissions) will be processed in accordance with the UK Data Protection Act and the EU General Data Protection Regulation. Personal information will be kept by them for no more than 1 year after any decisions have been finalised. For further information, please see www.ors.org.uk/privacy

No members of the public will be identified in any ORS consultation reports; but where feedback is submitted by a representative on behalf of an organisation, or by an elected representative or someone acting in their official capacity, this may be attributed.

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