"There were over 13,000 responses from residents, councils in neighbouring areas, health providers, the police, Local Enterprise Partnerships, businesses voluntary groups and educational bodies. The three criteria which had to be met before a proposal was accepted were:
- is likely to improve local government and service delivery across its area;
- commands a good deal of local support as assessed in the round overall across the whole area of the proposal;
- and any unitary councils to be established have a credible geography. "
"Local Government Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: "I have always been clear that any restructuring of local government must be locally-led and will not involve top-down solutions from government. Residents, businesses and service providers have had their say on what will work best for their area and now councils in these three areas can start planning for the next step.Where there is local support, changing the structure of local government can offer better value for money and improved services for residents."
This follows an announcement by the Prime Minister last week whereby he set out his vision to level up and unite the whole of the United Kingdom. In a speech, he set out the government’s role to:
- empower strong local leaders by taking a more flexible approach to devolution, with new ‘County Deals’
- focus on growing the private sector by creating the conditions for long-term growth and productivity;
- invest in infrastructure and connectivity;
- ensure that people have access to good public services, and the skills and training needed to get good jobs; and
- improve the quality of life in communities through cutting crime and regenerating towns and high streets
Moving forward, Parliamentary approval will be sought to implement these locally led plans for the area. At the turn of the year, a draft structural changes Order will be laid in Parliament. This will include plans for the necessary transitional arrangements, including for elections in May 2022 for the future unitary councils."