MP calls for abolition of district councils

Alec Shelbrooke, MP for Elmet ad Rothwell, has proposed ‘eradicating’ the combination of county councils and district councils and replacing them with single-tier unitary councils.

In a report, titled A Future for Local Government in England, the backbench Tory MP makes the proposals for consideration in a Westminster debate on England’s local authorities.

Sherbrooke also outlines plans for the equalisation of ward sizes and for the reduction in the amount of councillors, the introduction of five year fixed-terms for councillors which Shelbrooke states could save £46 million per year because of a reduction in the number of elections.

He said: “My report sets out an approach to overhaul the complexity and inefficiency of Britain’s faltering local government system; the result of a number of piecemeal reforms that have papered over the cracks that can be seen today.

“Most importantly, starting the system anew would allow the largest ever power shift of direct accountability to the electorate, providing a clear and precise understanding of who is responsible for the decisions which affect their lives.”

Cllr Neil Clarke, chairman of the District Councils’ Network (DCN) responded to the report, saying: “Districts are the form of local government closest to their communities and provide the building blocks for place-based approaches required for public sector reform.’

“Some District Clusters which are already collaborating extensively may consider unitarisation as the next logical step, but this should be for local areas to determine. It is essential that any proposals are agreed by all the relevant local authorities as I am sure district councils would form the building blocks for any potential unitary arrangement.

“District councils and district council clusters are committed to playing an active part in discussions regarding the formation of unitaries to ensure that any new structures deliver better outcomes for the people and places, whilst ensuring that any local government reorganisation does not distract from vital service delivery.”