‘Unitary will happen one day’, accepts Hill

Martin Hill EMN-141023-093525001
Martin Hill EMN-141023-093525001

The leader of Lincolnshire County Council believes that public services provided across the county by one council is “the way forward”.

Coun Martin Hill claimed that “unitary will happen one day”, with either a single council or a smaller number of councils for Lincolnshire bringing possible savings of between £25 million to £30 million a year.

Coun Phil Dilks of Deeping St James.

Coun Phil Dilks of Deeping St James.

But Coun Hill added that the Government showed no signs of “imposing it” and a group of councillors considering the idea of a unitary authority will also have to deal with taking on more powers from Westminster.

A motion put forward by Coun Hill for a Unitary Options Review Group to look at “urgent reform” of local government funding and extra powers for all councils in Lincolnshire was passed at a meeting on Friday.

During the meeting, Coun Hill said: “There’s a case to be made about standing up for Lincolnshire and fighting for a better deal for all the residents of this county.

“Fairer funding for local government, fairer funding for Lincolnshire within local government and a devolved settlement where we work together as a whole public sector world within Lincolnshire.

“If we want a unitary council in the county, we’d save £25 million to £30 million a year for the whole of local government in Lincolnshire.”

Speaking to the Free Press yesterday, Coun Hill added: “The unitary debate (at the council meeting) was quite helpful because it got people thinking about it.

“In the next few weeks, I’ll be looking to see if we can make a case to central government but my own personal view is that unitary will happen one day.

“There’s no appetite from the Government to impose it on people so unless they come and say we want, it won’t happen.

“But I think it’s the way forward and pointing out that £25 million to £30 million of savings could be made, we can’t pretend that the issue isn’t there.”

However, Coun Phil Dilks of Deeping St James said: “The review group wants to scrap the district councils and centralise everything in Lincoln which I don’t think is helpful.

“On the one hand, we’re saying ‘let’s collaborate and work together’ but, on the other hand, we’re saying ‘we want to abolish you and chop you off’ and it doesn’t say we’re going to end up with better services.”