Question and Answers
How much will the merger cost?
There is no fixed cost for this but an initial budget of £600k over 3 years has been committed to develop a transformation programme to manage and oversee the proposed change.
How will the merger affect services provided by each council?
One of the key objectives of the proposed change is to maintain or enhance services to residents, businesses and communities. Each service area will be reviewed as it is integrated to determine how much would need to change.
How would council housing work?
There would be an opportunity to expand Council housing to cover all of South Warwickshire. WDC has a local housing company that would be able to operate over the whole of South Warwickshire.
How would the new council be different to what we have now?
The new Council would cover all of the statutory responsibilities undertaken by both WDC and SDC now such as waste collection, planning decisions and licensing but across the whole of the South Warwickshire area. However, it would open up the opportunity to deliver services and new and innovative ways.
If we say yes at this stage, does that mean the merger will definitely go ahead, no matter what?
Central government would like to see that there is a good deal of local support for the merger as part of their consideration process. Saying yes, will help the merger to happen.
If we say yes to the merger, what will be the next steps?
Both Councils will have to officially decide to submit a business case proposal to central government requesting the merger. After a consideration process that could take up to a year, Government would determine if a new Council will be established on 1 April 2024.
What benefits will I see as a resident?
It offers the best opportunity to maintain services and enhance them where possible such as leisure, waste collection and planning. We would expect improved customer experience for residents and businesses across both districts. Having a Council larger enough to be recognised at a regional level and local enough to represent the geographical area of South Warwickshire will help to lobby for resources and to attract investment.
What will happen to our Council Plan(s)?
These would initially go through a process of alignment and then total revision if the merger is approved and completed.
Why are you thinking about merging the 2 councils?
Both WDC and SDC are facing significant financial challenges. Both Councils have also been impacted by the effects of the pandemic. It is projected that together there is a better chance to overcome these challenges, maintain and where possible enhance services to residents, businesses and communities.
Why can't you just align the operational services rather than a full merger?
Political merger benefits on top of operational merger include: further significant savings, less potential for divergent setting of priorities and enhanced local leadership.
Will I have extra charges to pay?
Not necessarily, but decisions for all fees and charges would have to be made by the political leadership of the new Council.
Will I have to travel further to visit council offices?
Decisions are yet to be made regarding the number and locations of Council offices and buildings. Serious consideration will be given to this as part of the merger process and also in how the Council will continue to serve and engage with residents, businesses and communities. Increasingly we will make use of technology to allow for face to face services without the customer having to leave their home.
Will I lose my local councillor?
No but to note, there will be a review regarding the number of Councillors that will serve the new area. The Local Government Boundary Commission England (LGBCE) will lead on this review at the appropriate time if the merger is approved.
Will I still be able to attend planning committee meetings in my local area? Or will they only be held in one location?
Decisions are yet to be made regarding the number of Planning Committee's or where they are held but we will want to hold them locally wherever possible.
Will I still vote for my local councillor
Yes, local elections would still take place. To note, if this proposed merger is approved by central government, the next district elections would be set take place shortly after the new Council is formed in April 2024.
Will it take longer to contact the council?
It will be possible to contact the new Council through the existing channels including telephone, email, face to face and online. There will also be opportunities to further enhance how to receive the service you require.
Will this cost me more Council Tax?
This will depend on decisions to be made by the political leadership of the new Council but it might not be any more than you would pay of the two Councils carried on as now. This would include the level of Council tax and how this would be harmonised across the new district area.
Will this lead to better services?
This is the one of the overarching ambitions for both Councils, to maintain or enhance service delivery to residents, businesses and communities.
Will this mean a councillor from the very north of the district (e.g. Kenilworth) will be making decisions about me in the very south (e.g. Shipston)?
There would still be local Councillors representing local areas. To note, there will be a review regarding the number of Councillors that will serve the new Council. The Local Government Boundary Commission England (LGBCE) will lead on this review at the appropriate time if the merger is approved.
Will this mean lots of layers of bureaucracy to get anything done?
It should mean less bureaucracy as we would be able to reduce duplication.
Will this reduce operating costs for each council?
This is the one of the overarching ambitions for both Councils.
Will you now be in charge of roads, schools, social care etc?
The proposed change does not remove a tier of local government but it does provide one authority that covers all the district council responsibilities for the South Warwickshire area such as waste collection, planning and licensing. Roads, schools and social care would continue to be provided by the County Council.