Councils agree to merge

Stratford Upon Avon Town Hall (Credit: ell brown / Creative Commons 2.0)

A merger of the district councils in Stratford-on-Avon and Warwick has been agreed.

The plans, to save around £10m per year, were put out for public consultation in September.

The proposals to create a single district council covering the whole of South Warwickshire were revealed earlier this year in response to the “very uncertain financial future” the two organisations are facing.

Following a full council meeting on Monday, Warwick District Council has agreed to formally submit a request for the plans to the Secretary of State at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).

Cllr Andrew Day, leader of Warwick District Council, said: “I am immensely proud that our councillors have come to this brave and historic decision to go ahead and to build a new council and shape our own destiny for the future of local Government in South Warwickshire.

“The widely recognised need for change has not only been identified, but is now being acted upon and now working with Stratford-on-Avon District Council we can start to build a vibrant, new, agile and strong council to serve all our residents.

“I want to thank councillors, stakeholders and residents for the many hours they have dedicated and insightful comments they have contributed.”

Cllr Tony Jefferson, leader of Stratford-on-Avon District Council, said:  “This is a major historic decision on the future of local government in South Warwickshire.  By taking this major strategic decision we are demonstrating our desire to control our own destiny. We believe this is the best decision for the benefit of our residents.

“The COVID pandemic has had an enormous impact on our communities and the council. This proposal to create a South Warwickshire District Council together with Warwick gives us the opportunity to safeguard our services into the future as well as helping us respond to any new challenges coming down the line.  There is already considerable synergy between the two Councils and, over time, the savings in costs will be substantial with significant benefits to residents from the integration.

“I’m sure our decision will have national significance and will provide a benchmark for other authorities looking to merge.

“The first crucial decision has been made, but the journey continues and there will be a lot of hard work ahead as it will be another two years before the new council comes into existence if agreed and approved.”