As expected, the proposal to create further Unitary Authorities in the country is causing much debate, including in Surrey. Tim Oliver lead of Surrey County Council proposed one Unitary Authority for the whole of Surrey (1.2M people !). This proposal seems to have been turned down by Robert Jenrick Minister of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). MHCLG now appear to have moved back proposals for Unitary Authorities from October 2020 to sometime in the spring and appear to be minded that Unitary Authorities should be circa 600,000 population maximum.
There are moves to take away local powers in other areas:
There are embryonic ideas to move the Care System into the NHS – this is being spearheaded by No 10 Downing Street.
Transport for the South East is seeking to set itself up as a properly funded body to manage the Strategic Road Network and Rail System
Planning for the Future – the new white paper on the planning system has proposals for national standards on Design and the central development of new housing numbers required in a locale.
What About Local Residents?
How Local Residents are to interact with these bodies is unclear. Parish Councils will still exist, and Guildford might get a Town Council. The UK already has a very centralised government which recent events have proved does not work effectively or efficiently e.g. the continuing issues with Covid-19 Track and Trace. Although in accountancy terms large can be good there is also the argument that ‘Small is Beautiful’. Debate at present seems to be beset by Politics and Economics. Maybe it is time to ask what do local residents really want?
Guildford Dragon have a interesting article on the current machinations.
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Pressures for development are increasing. Planning rules are being eased. The Society’s commitment to standing up for Guildford is needed more than ever.
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