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Three Rivers opposes the proposals for Hertfordshire single authority

19th July 2020

Three Rivers District Council is opposed to a proposal from Hertfordshire County Council to abolish the 10 district/borough local authorities in favour of establishing a single unitary council to serve the 1.2 million residents of the county.

Councillors Sarah Nelmes and Stephen Giles-Medhurst, Leader and Deputy Leader of Three Rivers Council have said

“The suggestion from some, mainly the County Council, of a single supper large unitary council covering 1.2m people and 1,643 km2 that would make it largest unitary council in England would be strongly opposed.

We believe such a large council would be hugely unhelpful to those we serve and represent in our communities. To propose such an idea at the present time would distract the attention of our staff and resources to local government reorganisation just when we should all be focused on the recovery from COVID. Nothing of the sort should even be considered until we are sure have COVID 19 under control

All 11 of Hertfordshire's Councils have worked together very effectively on the Herts Growth Board for over two years to develop a programme that will build on the County's potential. We believe that we can continue to do as a group of 11 authorities representing our distinct local communities in Hertfordshire. We have equally worked together in dealing with COVID 19 and on other issues such as planning for transport improvements.

Few, if anyone, in say, Rickmansworth, would agree that have much in common with Stevenage or Hertford and would not be well represented by being run by super council in Hertford.

However, should the government require us to pursue a route of local government reorganisation, we will enter into discussions and negotiation with the county council and the other district councils to work towards the right solution for local government in Hertfordshire. We have the very clear view that a single council of the size suggested is just not the answer.

We already have joint working with Watford and Hertsmere and others.
Local government is just that local - not a remote super council.  We believe that Three Rivers does a great job representing all its towns and villages from South Oxhey to Bedmond.

Any future model for local government in Hertfordshire must strike the right balance between being effective and efficient while giving proper representation to our diverse communities and places.  It is not helpful to speculate at this stage about what that might look like as it requires a great deal of work, maybe over several years, to be done to identify the right solution. It cannot be done overnight and must not be imposed on us by Whitehall and unelected political advisors.  Residents must have say.

We restate that do not believe that a single unitary council covering an area the size of Hertfordshire with 1.2 million people, rising to 1.3 million in the next ten years is the right solution, economically, politically or will enable our residents to have a true say in what occurs in their towns or villages.”