Thanet council has voted to proceed to next stage of public consultation for proposals to the create a single council for East Kent.
Councillors met this evening to discuss the merger and give the green like for public consultation on the proposal which would mean Thanet, Shepway, Canterbury and Dover becoming a single authority – the largest of its kind in the country.
An amendment for a full referendum, proposed by Cllr Karen Constantine, was voted down.
Thanet Council vote to proceed to next stage of public consultation around the creation of a possible single council for East Kent
— Communications Team (@ThanetCouncil) March 22, 2017
An eight week consultation will be launched to seek the views of residents on the future options for East Kent.
The merger would result in the loss of 150 jobs – mainly from management – but, the councils believe, will save £6.8 million in the first two years.
A document to councillors statds: “Local Government faces the combined changes of increased demand for services coupled with further downward pressure on funding. In order to take the steps required to make services more efficient, local government may need to be transformed and redesigned around new models.”
The business case document adds: “Under a prudent scenario agreed with the councils’ Section 151 officers, the combined savings that would need to be identified by 2024/25, if the four districts continued to operate individually, are estimated to be £18.1m1, with £4.7m of these required prior to any merger.
“Of the remaining £13.4m, this business case identifies c. £6.8m of savings that could be achieved within two years of merging, largely made up of staff savings through structural changes and some consolidation of services.”
To create the council it will cost £6.8m – exactly the amount saved over 2 years -covering redundancy costs, merging of technology, communications and engagement. However, the report identifies a further £3.5m in savings potential.
A Statement of Intent was agreed between the councils and Ashford Borough Council, which later pulled out, in July.
Dover has also agreed the consultation but Shepway has voted against.
DDC has agreed to support a public consultation on proposals to create a single East Kent council, consultation to start after KCC elections
— Dover Dist Council (@DoverDC) March 22, 2017
Sad to hear Shepway have pulled out of an East Kent Council now rather than consult. But the show goes on, hard work begins.
— Ben Fitter-Harding (@benfitter) March 22, 2017
Find the timeline of what could happen next, if the proposal still goes ahead, here