PRESS STATEMENT: Lib Dem Leader of Guildford Borough Council updates Full Council on Surrey-wide Unitary latest

July 29, 2020 3:03 PM

Surrey's 11 Districts/BoroughsAt the meeting of Guildford Borough Council this evening Cllr Caroline Reeves, Lib Dem Leader of Guildford Borough Council outlined the council's firm response to recent concerning news that Conservative-run Surrey County Council has asked the Government to form a new county-wide unitary council in place of all the current district, borough and county councils saying:

Following the letter to Government by Surrey County Council's Conservative leader Tim Oliver proposing a Surrey-wide unitary council, borough and district council leaders from across Surrey have met to discuss the issue. At this meeting all of the leaders agreed that it was very unfortunate that the leader of Surrey County Council did not consult with any of the borough and district leaders before announcing the plan, in spite of having explained it to all the Surrey MPs.

The general opinion of the borough and district leaders is that a single unitary authority is too large and will have a detrimental impact on the social cohesion of the communities within each of the boroughs and districts. Furthermore, the poor timing of the SCC proposals takes the focus away our combined response to support our communities and businesses in recovering from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The majority of Borough and District Leaders have agreed to send a letter* to the Secretary of State to voice our concern, and that leaders and the chief executives would work together to put forward alternative proposals. A contribution of £10,000 from each relevant authority was suggested by the leaders as an appropriate contribution from each authority to commission the work looking at this further. The final amounts, and the scale of the required work, is still under consideration but it would still be preferable if Surrey County Council could work with us and be open to exploring further options.

The key concern is there has been no consultation with us, and it leaves very little time for the relevant Boroughs and Districts to work up agreed alternative proposals for the Government to consider. My suggestion is that when the government White Paper has been published, we convene an extraordinary council meeting to discuss the way forward, if there is one.

You can read a copy of the Surrey District/Borough Council Leader's Letter below.

Surrey Leaders' letter re Single Surrey Unitary Authority