Council merger - Let’s focus on north-west

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It is interesting that, following years of dismissing action on making unitary authorities (UA) a reality, the Conservative leaders of our local authorities are now extolling the virtues of such a system.

The leader of WLDC, Cllr Jeff Summers, has said that he favours very small UAs based on the existing district councils.

It is difficult to see how much in the way of cost-saving could be made. Seven sets of mini-county structures (including seven highways departments) would need to be created to replace the existing county council structure – and the prospect of WLDC taking on additional county council responsibilities looks fanciful at a time when it has clearly struggled to carry out its core role as a district council.

At the other extreme, Cllr Martin Hill, leader of the county council, favours a single ‘super’ authority which would take in the current county council area, plus north east Lincs and possibly Peterborough.

The voice of the communities in the Market Rasen area would not be heard as part of a single greater Lincolnshire UA covering a massive area and a population of about one million – just as the present county council fails to properly support this part of Lincolnshire.

The sensible solution – put forward by the Liberal Democrats as part of the 2013 county council election manifesto – is for four medium-sized UAs (each of about 250,000 inhabitants) which would give residents a bigger say on how their authorities are run.

For example, the creation of a north west Lincolnshire UA (perhaps combining West Lindsey with North Lincs) would give residents the chance to elect councillors that better reflect our views and act for our benefit.

There would be the chance, if local voters choose, of using some of the resulting cost savings on things such as reinstating the warden system within our sheltered housing complexes and supporting libraries.

At present, does the west Lindsey area currently receive a fair proportion of the county council spend on infrastructure – or are other areas deemed to be in greater need?

In a future north west Lincolnshire UA, locally-collected council tax and central government support grants would have to be spent within the area of our UA – including funding for highway repairs and new road projects or school improvements.

I believe that this is the best solution for all the areas of Lincolnshire, including Market Rasen.

Guy Grainger

King Street, Market Rasen