Kevin Foster, Conservative Parliamentary Spokesman for Torbay, has responded to suggestions that Torbay could be “taken over” and that councils should merge by saying the key is for neighbours to work together, not spend taxpayer’s cash merging forever.
As Councils look to make savings many are exploring sharing services to ensure as much money as possible is spent providing the key front line services local people want, rather than on back office administration and support. There are also exciting plans for a City Deal which would see the bay work closely with neighbours in Plymouth and across South Devon to access greater powers from the government with a focus on a joined up approach to economic development.
Yet whilst this work is welcome, the Conservative Party is making clear that this debate is about local Councils working together for the common good, not about starting another round of expensive and time consuming local government reorganisation. This follows a statement from Torbay Liberal Democrats calling for further council mergers.
Kevin said: “It makes real sense for our local councils to work together in the interests of all our local residents, particularly when this comes to reducing costs or developing co-ordinated plans for economic growth. Yet this should not be confused with the idea that one Council may take over another or that a time consuming, plus expensive, review of local government boundaries is likely to happen. No Torbay “takeover” is being planned by Devon County Council or being asked for by the bay’s Mayor.”
“For myself and other Conservatives the core job of fixing our economy and providing local services against the backdrop of dealing with the enormous deficit inherited from Labour is the key job. At this critical time Councils have better things to do than spend large amounts of time focussing on their own borders and structures, rather than the needs of local people. It makes sense for our councils to be good neighbours working together, not spending large sums on merging forever.”