Surrey CC quits LGA and CCN membership

Surrey County Council has given notice to quit membership of the Local Government Association (LGA) and the County Council’s Network (CCN), following the political row over the so-called council tax ’sweetheart deal’.

The move comes in the wake of the recent announcement by Surrey leader Cllr David Hodge that he would step down as leader of the Local Government Association’s Conservative group, with reports claiming he had felt pressured by county colleagues to step down.

In an interview with the MJ, Hodge said: “It’s clear others want someone leading the LGA Conservative group with a different approach.”

A spokesman for Surrey CC said: “Along with many councils up and down the country Surrey is facing huge financial pressures, due to a combination of reducing government grant and increasing demand for vital services, and these pressures are set to continue.

“It is therefore essential we consider every aspect of our spending and that is why we have given notice on our membership of four associations – the Local Government Association, the County Councils Network, South East England Councils and South East Strategic Leaders.‘Giving notice means we will be able to make a final decision in a year’s time - based on the financial position for the council at that time - on whether to leave these associations.”

Cllr Paul Carter, CCN chairman, said: “It is disappointing that Surrey CC has gone on notice especially considering David Hodge was an excellent chairman of CCN only 18 months ago. This isn’t a reflection of the work CCN has done for all county members and the growing profile of the network nationally.

“We will be engaging with Surrey over the coming year to address any concerns they have whilst we ensure we continue to bang the country drum as the national voice of all 37 county council and county unitary members”’

The decision comes as several counties, including Leicestershire CC Essex CC and Lincolnshire CC are reconsidering their membership of the LGA, claiming the association is not representing their interests.