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Bishop's Stortford Town Council ponders future without East Herts

Bishop's Stortford Town Council has earmarked the services it might want to control if a unitary authority is established for Hertfordshire.

Currently, in a move opposed by districts like East Herts , the county council is exploring options for transition which would remove the second tier of local government but leave parishes in place. It claims such a transformation could save £100m a year.

Chief executive James Parker told members of the town's finance and policy committee: "The Herts County Council proposal is only one of several that are being discussed and the process will doubtless have many ups and downs but it would be wise to be prepared with some views on what services should be managed locally at the parish or town level."

Herts is currently split into 10 districts (42450341)
Herts is currently split into 10 districts (42450341)

Members backed his breakdown which categorises services as suitable for local management or strategic and benefiting from economies of scale by a central body such as waste disposal, public health, social care and education.

The town council would like to control parking, neighbourhood planning, public toilets, sports centres and parks, tourism, arts and recreation with shared responsibility or a duty to consult on issues such as economic development, planning, highways and licensing.

Mr Parker advised: "Services which inherently differ by localities should be managed locally unless there is a very good reason not to.

"Services which are commodity, geographically strategic or not locally differentiated should be managed at the unitary level unless there is a very good reason to manage them locally."

The committee was clear that its deliberations should not be interpreted as backing the county council's plans and that any changes were likely to be three or four years away.

Cllr Louie Corpe said: "It's important for us to have our own plans in place if there are competing proposals."

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