The leaders of the 10 Hertfordshire district and borough councils have joined forces to oppose a proposal from Hertfordshire County Council to abolish their Local Authorities in favour of establishing a single unitary council to serve the 1.2 million
residents of the county.
District councils have provided a lifeline to residents and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing food and welfare support to those in great difficulty, paying over £149m in grants to local businesses across the county to help their
prospects of survival, housing more than 1,000 homeless people during the crisis and providing vital services from waste collection to the management of many thousands of council homes. Local knowledge and local services have been vital in supporting
residents, from those suffering the effects of domestic abuse, through to looking after parks and green spaces for people to enjoy.
The district and borough council leaders believe the timing of the County Council’s proposal is poor given the need to ensure there is an absolute focus on supporting their communities and businesses to recover from the devastating effects of COVID-19.
The Hertfordshire district and borough councils have demonstrated great innovation to save more than £95m during the last 10 years to protect services for residents.
The leaders are opposed to the proposal for a single unitary council to serve Hertfordshire’s residents, as it would be too large and remote to support local communities and residents, and around three times larger than the size that Government
is likely to consider suitable for local areas.
The leaders have worked together with the County Council very effectively through the Hertfordshire Growth Board for over two years to develop a comprehensive programme that will build on Hertfordshire’s potential and believe that they can continue
to make progress as a group of 11 authorities representing the distinct communities of Hertfordshire.
The leaders will now work together, along with other key partners, and will take account of the views of residents to help inform the development of alternative options for consideration by Government alongside the County Council’s single unitary
council proposal. This will be done with the aim of ensuring that any future model for local government in Hertfordshire is both effective and efficient, whilst also providing proper representation for residents. It is not helpful to speculate at
this stage about what that might look like as it requires a great deal of work to be done to identify the right solution.