County response to unitary authority plans

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A senior councillor has denied Lincolnshire County Council are debating “surprising” new Unitary Authority plans saying it would be “like turkeys voting for Christmas”.

It follows a speech by the former leader of South Kesteven District Council, Coun Matthew Lee, in which he said the county was “again talking about disbanding district councils”.

Grantham councillor and Lincolnshire County Council executive member Richard Davies was at the meeting, and denied the statement.

He said there was “no drive” for the move, adding: “All local authorities should and could be working together but as a member of county council it came as a bit of a surprise to hear that.”

He pointed to the recently announced partnership which will see North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire and the county working closer together to provide “more efficient” services, but said a unitary authority at this time would “be like turkeys voting for Christmas”.

Coun Matthew Lee, in his first speech since stepping down said: “County Council colleagues, of which a number also sit on this council, are again talking about disbanding district councils to create a single unitary authority.

“This idea has so far been strongly rejected in 2017, but it looks like the debate may be coming around again.”

In his speech, Coun Lee indicated the reason he was stepping down, was due to disagreement about his vision for the authority.

“I have always been very clear that I see driving economic growth and investment here in South Kesteven as the answer.

“Given that I am stepping down, clearly some of my colleagues disagree.

“Other suggestions will no doubt be put forward in due course.”

Lincolnshire County Council shelved plans in that year to hold a public referendum on a unitary authority on the same day as county council elections.

Several district council leaders at the time opposed the plans.