Gloucestershire politicians reject calls for councils to be scrapped
MILLIONS of pounds could be preserved in the public purse by scrapping Gloucestershire's district councils, it has been claimed.
Former Conservative cabinet minister Michael Heseltine has drawn up a radical report calling for the introduction of single, unitary local authorities in place of the two-tier district council system.
But his plan has been greeted with a mixed reaction in Gloucestershire, where six district councils operate alongside the county council.
Councillor Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said: "We need councils to work together now to save money – not argue amongst themselves.
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"The Secretary of State of Local Government has made it very clear, on a number of occasions, that he will not be permitting any local government reorganisations at present."
David Hagg, chief executive of Stroud District Council, said: "Lord Heseltine's proposals are geared to city regions and less so rural economies. Districts like ours are important drivers for jobs and growth through our housing and planning functions.
"In many ways we already act unitary and I say that with experience of having worked previously in a unitary environment."
Councillor Paul James, leader of Gloucester City Council, added: "I agree with Lord Heseltine about many things but not on this point. Local government reorganisation would be a big distraction from the economic challenges we face."
At the time of going to press, no one from the Forest of Dean District Council was available to comment.