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Hertfordshire residents overwhelmingly reject single 'super-council' plan in survey

Hertfordshire residents reject the creation of a 'super-council', according to a county-wide survey of 2,000 people.

The findings have found favour with East Herts Council leader Cllr Linda Haysey, who, along with the nine other district and borough council leaders in Herts, also opposes a single unitary authority.

She said: "Supporting our residents and communities through the Covid-19 pandemic is our overwhelming priority right now and speculation around local government reform is deflecting staff and councillor attention away from this key focus."

Temporary car park, Old River Lane, Bishop's Stortford.Cllr Linda Haysey..Pic Vikki Lince. (42824489)
Temporary car park, Old River Lane, Bishop's Stortford.Cllr Linda Haysey..Pic Vikki Lince. (42824489)

Hertfordshire County Council has mooted a single council to serve 1.2 million people as the best way of saving millions of pounds each year.

However, polling company Survation found an overwhelming 80% of county residents believe the unitary proposal is the wrong approach at the wrong time.

A telephone survey, carried out between September 22 and October 3, targeted 2,030 people aged 18-plus on behalf of the 10 district and borough councils.

Survation found:

• 59% of residents strongly oppose creation of a single unitary council across the county, with only 12% in support.

• 80% believe their area would be better served by a local council than a single, county-wide unitary.

• 4 in 5 people also said now is not the right time to change the structure of local government.

• When asked about services currently provided by district councils, such as refuse collection and housing, 75% of residents said these would be better delivered by their local council than a single authority.

• 76% were concerned that their voice may not be heard.

In a joint statement, the district and borough council leaders said: "The Survation poll is a very clear verdict on the county unitary plans. Our local residents are overwhelmingly opposed to a county unitary and we agree with them that it is the wrong approach at the wrong time.

"The poll confirms the strong feedback we have been receiving locally that people do not believe that a single unitary authority for 1.2 million people is right for Hertfordshire – our residents, our businesses and our towns and communities.

"Covid-19 has shown us that localised solutions are often the most effective, and the spirit of devolution is that democratic decisions affecting people's lives should be made where they are most effective and have the greatest impact, rather than in potentially unwieldy and arbitrary 'super councils'.

"Our view is, and particularly in time of a global health crisis, to continue to work together through our established and respected Herts Growth Board, comprising all the districts and boroughs of Hertfordshire, along with the county council and the Local Enterprise Partnership, to move forward collectively in the interests of all our communities.

"By listening to our people, continuing to support our communities through the Covid pandemic, we will achieve economic recovery and stability for our residents and businesses far quicker."

The poll was carried out with a minimum sample size of 200 in each district and borough: Broxbourne, Dacorum, East Herts, Hertsmere, North Herts, St Albans, Stevenage, Three Rivers, Watford and Welwyn Hatfield.

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