Mergers of Towns and Shires would save Billions – But they Hate Each Other

Shropshire Star – as politically likely as Luton and South Beds, or Stevenage and North Herts, or  Harlow and Epping Forest merging.  The cowardice during the 1974 Act creating deliberately safe Labour and Tory areas (then) on both sides of exceptionally tight borders.  Only a determined central government realising the financial mess of local government requires dramatic solutions, and that tightly constrained towns need to expand can fix this

Merging Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Councils could save taxpayers £14 million a year, an MP has claimed.

Daniel Kawczynski has called for a referendum on the issue, saying the money could be spent on libraries and other leisure services.

He also said a single “super county” authority would be in a stronger position to attract  funding from both the Government and private sector.

However, the idea has been dismissed by Telford & Wrekin Council leader Kuldip Sahota, who said it would not benefit from a merger with its neighbour.

Shropshire Council leader Keith Barrow also thought such a merger was unlikely.

He said: “I’m all in favour of closer co-operation between the two authorities, but I don’t think there is a will to go anywhere beyond that.”

Mr Kawczynski, Conservative MP for Shrewsbury, said: “Independent financial reports suggest that such a merger would save approximately £14 million per annum in running costs.

“That money could be ploughed back into libraries, leisure facilities and all the other important projects which Salopians require.

“At the very least it would be a very interesting and democratic procedure to allow people to decide for themselves whether they wish to have the two councils merge in order to bring about this level of efficiency savings.

“We are one county and ought to be doing everything possible to promote the whole county collectively to government to maximise investment.”

He said a combined council would have more resources at its disposal.

He added: “By having two separate councils we are diminishing our ability to promote Shropshire as a whole in these perspectives.”

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