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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 04/04/2006
Local Government Reorganisation - Update on Recent Events



APPENDIX S.2
Waverley Borough Council

executive– 4TH APRIL 2006
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Title:
LOCAL GOVERNMENT REORGANISATION –
UPDATE ON RECENT EVENTS
[Wards Affected: All]
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Summary and purpose:

This report updates the Executive on issues arising from the Leader of the Council’s meeting with the Local Government Minister on Wednesday 29th March and adds to Appendix S.1.
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Meeting purpose

1. The Ministerial meeting was the South East Region “County Dialogue” where the Secretary of State, David Milliband, and a senior Civil Servant from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, met Leaders of County and District or Borough Councils in the South East Region. This was part of a national dialogue with local government intended to inform the expected White Paper.

Government proposals

2. It appears that the Government is still gathering information and opinions before devising proposals for inclusion in the White Paper due to be published in June of this year. It is still not clear if the process of restructuring into unitary councils, larger than current boroughs, will be entirely voluntary, or whether the Government will have powers to impose restructuring. However, there remains a real possibility of an imposed restructuring if agreement cannot be reached between Councils. Recent press reports talk about reserve powers being included in legislation.

Waverley preparatory work

3. Officers now feel that the Council will have to explore the most likely grouping of Council’s for a unitary authority to enable Waverley to respond positively to the White Paper. There is currently no provision in budgets for any extra staffing or consultancy work. The SIG has suggested exploring the potential for an alternative grouping with Mole Valley, alongside the discussions already taking place with the Waverley/Guildford/Woking (WGW) partnership. Officers feel that detailed work needs to start on working towards a submission to respond to the White Paper.

Conclusion

4. The Officers feel that the Executive now needs to agree to a more active approach to the WGW possible grouping, and the Executive needs to recommend the Council that it agrees a more positive approach to preparatory work to put the Council in a position to respond to the forthcoming White Paper. The intention would be to try to build on the joint working model evolving in Mole Valley/Tandridge/Reigate and Banstead and to explore the possibility of a similar concordat with Woking and Guildford. This could reduce the workload for staff and costs to Waverley considerably.
Recommendation

The Executive is recommended to recommend to the Council that

1. the Council recognises the need to prepare a case for a combined unitary Council as an option and that the geography implies a Waverley/Guildford/Woking partnership is the most likely option;

2. the Leader be authorised to meet the Leaders of Woking and Guildford Borough Councils to explore possibilities for some form of joint working to prepare to respond to the White Paper; and

3. officers be authorised to start scoping work on a submission to the White Paper on the range of likely options for restructuring and to report to the next meeting of the Executive on resource implications.

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Background Papers (CEx)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.
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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: R Pellow Telephone: 01483 523222

E-mail: rpellow@waverley.gov.uk

comms/exec/05-06/338