Local government re-organisation in the media: CCN statement

CCN Latest News, CCN News 2020 | 25 June 2020

Today the Municipal Journal has published a story on local government reorganisation, which the County Councils Network was asked to comment on.

The piece suggested that the CCN is to produce a piece of work that would conclude England should have 80 councils after a re-organisation. This is inaccurate, and the CCN sought a correction from the MJ which the paper was willing to clarify. However, the original paragraph is in the print version of this week’s magazine.

Any research undertaken by the network in this field, as with previous independent reports, is intended as an evidence base and rooted in the current circumstances to inform our member councils’ self-determination; whether they choose to pursue structural change or retain two-tier governance.

Below, we publish the full quote issued to the MJ.

A County Councils Network spokesperson said:

“Ministers have indicated that the forthcoming Devolution White paper will update the government’s position on reorganisation, with it increasingly expected to be a major feature of the policy landscape in the coming months and years. Some of our member councils are considering reform, following the successful recent transitions in Dorset and Buckinghamshire, alongside the experiences of our nine other unitary authorities. The consequences of Coronavirus for county finances, and the need to work quickly to support the economic recovery, could mean more councils actively consider reform.

The County Councils Network has long argued that if the government is to pursue a reform agenda then it must be evidence-based and should use the devolution framework to set out a criteria to inform local discussions. This should include confirmation of a minimum population limit but with no upper population limit as there is no evidence to support. In addition, a framework should ensure that proposals offer better public service delivery and provide the thresholds and tests for local consensus.

Recognising our member councils’ self-determination on structural reform, we will support government and those councils wishing to explore reform with robust national evidence on its benefits. Alongside this, we will continue to support improved two-tier collaboration where reform is not being considered by individual member councils.”