Surrey CC has given notice to quit membership of the Local Government Association (LGA) and the County Council’s Network (CCN).
The move comes in the wake of last week’s announcement by Surrey leader Cllr David Hodge that he would step down as leader of the Local Government Association’s Conservative group, following the political row over the so-called Nickileaks affair.
The MJ understands Cllr Hodge – himself a former CCN chairman – felt he had been pressured by county colleagues to step down. Writing in The MJ last week, Cllr Hodge said: ‘It’s clear others want someone leading the LGA Conservative group with a different approach.’
A spokesman for Surrey CC said: ‘Along with many councils up and down the country Surrey is facing huge financial pressures, due to a combination of reducing government grant and increasing demand for vital services, and these pressures are set to continue.
‘It is therefore essential we consider every aspect of our spending and that is why we have given notice on our membership of four associations – the Local Government Association, the County Councils Network, South East England Councils and South East Strategic Leaders.‘Giving notice means we will be able to make a final decision in a year’s time - based on the financial position for the council at that time - on whether to leave these associations.’
CCN chairman, Cllr Paul Carter, said: ‘It is disappointing that Surrey CC has gone on notice especially considering David Hodge was an excellent chairman of CCN only 18 months ago. This isn’t a reflection of the work CCN has done for all county members and the growing profile of the network nationally.
‘We will be engaging with Surrey over the coming year to address any concerns they have whilst we ensure we continue to bang the country drum as the national voice of all 37 county council and county unitary members.’
Surrey’s decision comes as several counties reconsider their membership of the LGA, claiming the association is not representing their interests. Yesterday, Leicestershire CC announced it had handed in its notice, with Essex CC and Lincolnshire CC poised to put in their notice too.
For more on the Local Government Association visit The MJ (£).