Martin Ford 03 February 2020

Borough seeking unitary status sparks spending row

A row over council spending has broken out between a county council and a borough authority that is seeking unitary status.

The leader of Basildon BC’s Labour administration, Cllr Gavin Callaghan, wrote to his Conservative counterpart at Essex CC raising ‘serious concerns’ that the borough was ‘not being prioritised’.

It came a day after Basildon councillors voted in favour of preparing a business case for unitary status.

Cllr Callaghan wrote: ‘We cannot adequately meet the needs of our residents and achieve all the ambitions we have for our borough and our communities until control of key services like education, highways and transport is brought closer to home.’

He cited recent polling that returned a majority in favour of devolving upper tier powers.

‘The people of Basildon are clear in their belief that the two-tier governance model is no longer working for this borough,’ Cllr Callaghan added.

Responding to the letter, Essex CC leader Cllr David Finch told The MJ ‘considerably more’ money was spent in Basildon than it received in taxation and questioned whether funds would be better spent under a unitary model.

Photo: © John Allan

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