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24 September 2014

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You are in: Shropshire > Features > General Features > Who should rule Shropshire?

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Who should rule Shropshire?

How Shropshire is run in the future is back in the news. A High Court challenge to stop Shropshire getting a unitary council is dismissed by a judge. But what does this mean for local people?

"One voice for Shropshire will mean we get better resources into the county."

Carolyn Downs, Chief Executive of Shropshire County Council.

At the moment Shropshire has a three tier system - rather like a wedding cake. The bottom layer is made up of town and parish councils, the next layer is made up of the district councils, and on the top sits the county council. But this could all change.

Shropshire has the chance to come up with a different recipe - one single unitary authority covering the whole of the county.

So why change things?

Well, Ruth Kelly former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government claimed the proposal would, "Give citizens and communities a clearer voice, create stronger and more visible leadership".

Carolyn Downs, Chief Executive of Shropshire County suggested: "One voice for Shropshire will mean we get better resources into the county." But not everyone agrees.

Those against the idea of one council say that fewer councillors will mean less democratic accountability. They also say a unitary authority could be very costly.

Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council lost its judicial review against plans to scrap five district or borough councils for a single authority on 10 October 2007.

The council challenged the process on the grounds that the government did not have the power to undertake the review and that it was unfair and unbalanced. But in the High Court Mr Justice Underhill dismissed the challenge.

We'd like to know what you think. Let us know if Shropshire should become a unitary authority or not.

Vote now closed

As of Monday 15 January, we have removed our straw poll vote from the website. Although we stated that it was not a scientific survey of public opinion, an employee of Shropshire County Council attempted to unfairly influence the outcome of the vote.

For the record, we show the state of the vote on Monday morning at the time it was closed.

last updated: 10/10/07

Have Your Say

Should Shropshire become a unitary authority? Tell us what you think.

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Mr R.Griffiths
I would just say, presently the county spends more money on both Shrewsbury & Telford at the expense of the other areas. This is due to reduced amounts of people over a larger area - just means they can do this without any opposition. Note I remember voting 'NO' to this, like the majority & yet they are still going ahead - is this democracyWhen local government make there minds up the people really don’t have a say do they! If they where a private business they would have been made insolvent years ago.We are going to give more power to the idiots that have spent over 10 million pounds on looking at a relief road to the north of Shrewsbury(without anything to show), yet the state of the A49 is an utter disgrace; it's just the money gravy train for some in local government.

Clunite
What about us in the remote regions of the county? Who will look after us? Does this mean that a new astro-turfed sports pitch in Shrewsbury could jepodise our already below standard bus service? Will it really save us money? Shropshire is one of the biggest counties in the country. Can a unitary authority really look after the interests of all communities on this grand scale? I have severe reservations

allanparker
Does anyone believe it will make one jot of differencce

Mr L.Phillips
Unitary for me, all that lot on S.A b.C, are doing is selling off anything they can, all they are worried about is losing their expenses.

Rob Cherry
No one I know wants a unitary authority - it will lead to a decline in the standard of local services in many smaller towns and villages in Shropshire. The move to a unitary authority against the wishes of the electorate is undemocratic and should be resisted.

DAVID SY1
vote yes scc will do amuch better job than sabc who basically just look after their own little nest in frankwell

Christopher Jones
NO!I live in Ludlow & want local people with local interests to supervise the budgets & improvements.

Martyyn Freeth
I'm pleased to see that this site remains open. It earlier seemed frozen as at 18th Jan. It is to be hoped that BBC Shropshire can continue to provide this forum until the whole unitary issue is (hopefully) settled in the Summer. SABC is currently keeping its similar site open. SCC of course closed its own as soon as its case had been sent in to Government, and gave that fact and the closure of other councils' polls as the reason therefor (which I can spell - see below). This raises the issue as to why SCC is continuing with its roadshows - 11 more as at 27th Jan. Another question for the expenditure and similar watchdog, the District Auditor? As regards comments below on my earlier entries I would refer readers to item 47 on SABC's blog (writer unknown to me) that sets out eloquently the reasons why one should be concerned about the conduct of SCC or its staff. Beyond that, if it has been announced that Cllr Malcolm Pate was to investigate the "poll-rigging" business there must be an intention to publish. The question is as to the scope and breadth of such investigation. To correct "Replier" below I am entitled to see anything that the Freedom of Information Act permits. SABC has taken all these issues seriously and voted on 23rd Jan by 24 to 7 or 8 each respectively of abstentions or contras to refer them to the Audit Commission. Some such catharsis is needed to enable resumption in due course of constructive approach from SCC. This may need some change in personalities on that side. SABC officers have conducted themselves impeccably under appalling pressure, if not provocation. I take this from Cllr Peter Nutting's lips on 23rd Jan (though "provocation" is my own construction).

Employee
The results are out, Malcom Pate does not like them. So what went wrong? Clearly everyone received the wrong or unbiased information. I don't think so, the case for and against was sent to residents of those districts that had not already jumped into bed with the County Council, and consultation was with all residents not just the handfull picked by the County for their consultation. Mr Pate, accept life as it is, we live in a democracy, the majority don't want what you and Mrs Downs want, so move forward to enhance local govt service delivery, in the way that the people of shropshire want it to be delivered.

Ted Davies
Part Two Cont. I did write before I read about being childish. My thoughts about salaries are important and we pay the piper so we should have say about pay. It is my opinion that Council employees are paid far too much. I was in busines in Wem for many years, and could not match the salaries paid by Councils. Of couse we want value for money and we are not getting it in North Shropshire, and time for a change, but NOT to West Midlands! Shropshire for ever.

Ted Davies
I used to support N:S:D.C. to be retained, now I have changed my mind and I believe, NOT in a West Midlands hugh county but a single Council for Shropshire but leaving Wrekin as it stands.

Daniel Joys
If its broke fix it and if its not dont. Would you admit to getting it wrong for all these years? It doesnt really matter the same people will do the same job it seems more a battle of status rather than solving problems. District, County council i mean come on who will actually notice the differnce. Same goes for the joining of police forces it wouldnt be of anymore use people will not stop commiting crimes because police forces are saying they are joining together. Information should be passed freely around councils in all areas anyway. Computers hold all the files its not as if you need to search a library sized filing cabinet to find out information it is a simple case of searching a name or number. Your all wasting time and our money along with your lives on being fussy about little things such as council sizes is.

m
don't go the way of Telford, it's just a way of increasing costs. No thoughts given to the people who pay their wages and expences, other than how can we increase them.

Nick Ward
NO!!

Replier to Martyn Freeth
You are not entitled to the full disclosure of Cllr Pate's investigation (whihc you can't spell) - and I've no idea why you think the Audit Commission would get involved in an incident regarding an online poll? Why are you so angry?

G.Bull
Leave it alone. It will cost the tax payers more.The only pepole to gain from this will be the County Council hier arky

Martyn Freeth
I regret that I need to come back to highlight a serious misinformation by the County Council, just discovered. At 3.05 pm on Friday 19th January on the main page of its One Council blog site it announced that the main blog was now closed because the County was now sending its submission to the Government and the polls of other councils "are now closed". The latter statement is or was at that time untrue. It was issued by or in the name of the Chief Executive. In fact, votes in SABC's poll are or were to be completed and sent to the Electoral Reform Society in the pre-paid envelope provided so as to arrive first thing on Monday 22nd January. Post in Shrewsbury is collected across the area on Saturdays, and on Sundays up to at least 1 pm at various boxes such as at Morrisons or 4 pm at the Sorting Office. The SCC One Council website has clearly been heavily visited recently. It is only to be hoped that this grossly misleading statement will not have deterred last-minute voters. In any event, more for the Audit Commission to investigate.

Shropshire resident
Martyn Freeth! i think you should keep your nose out! Its none of your business about the investigation!

Shrewsbury resident
I am an SCC employee being paid under £30,000 and work in one of the areas where services are duplicated so yes, my job may be on the line. I read all the internal communication on unitary and i even took a brief look at the White paper! I read SABC,s leaflet My Council and SCC's leaflet One Council. I still voted Yes for unitary. why? because I believe that it provides the best solution for Shropshire. You sceptics can call me naive if you like but having worked for SCC for over 10 years I have seen massive changes for the better in the way that services are provided to the whole of the county. And yes, as a resident of Shrewsbury i do know where Ludlow and Oswestry are and I know that Oswestry is in the top three for the cleanest streets in the country- not something we can say of Shrewsbury! The workers at SCC are local people who do want what is best for Shropshire as a whole. As has already been pointed out, keeping the status quo is not an option and I have yet to see SABC or any of the other districts putting forward a reasoned and workable alternative for us to consider. What also seems to have been overlooked in all this is that whether its unitary or enhanced two tier, we will all have to work together- and lord knows what relationships will be like if the mudslinging carries on!

Greg Hodge
This could be seen as a way for the County Council to increase income and eventually step up all costs, but without providing a better service to the residents.

Martyn Freeth
Postscipt. I see that Paul Masterman of SCC is currently one of the 13 members of the Executive Committee (which they can't spell) of Local Government Communications; and that a key priority for that organisation is its "Reputation Campaign".

Martyn Freeth
We learn from today's Shrewsbury Chronicle (18 Jan, page 2) that it was a Mr Dave Briggs of SCC whose concern led him to question the e-mail from "Masterman of the Universe" that tried to rig the BBC poll. He deserves our, the public's, thanks. The Chronicle report says that he warned "bosses". If this is not a journalisic error the question has to be who else was sent his mail of complaint and whether any such saw the mail and ignored it. We are entitled to full disclosure of Cllr Pate's investiagtion; and if this is not swiftly forthcoming the Audit Commission or Local Government Ombudsman must be invoked. I'm happy to put my hand up for this task.

Julian
They are incredible. They remove any post that paints them in a bad light. I have only just moved to Shropshire, but it is like moving to one of those African dictatorships of the 1990's. How can an ecommunications manager block communication that she doesn't agree with. Either have a blog or don't. Don't invite people to discuss topics then remove any you don't like. They don't live in the real world.

lynda jones
yes please! as we must look at our communities` social needs. not so much a town of blooming flowers but of blossoming people

Take a break
I think everyone should calm down a little! How can you question someone's salary and not even know what his job involes! At the end of the day when you read through the comments you sound like children in a playground! There is a investigation, of course you won't be able to post things on a blog about that person - it makes sense!

Simpson
SCC can't even ensure they win the poll that they encouraged people to abuse what hope do we have for our services. It stinks, and it clearly goes to the top of the organisation. Ms Downes time to fall on your sword too.

West Midlands NO!
David Jones started off this Have your Say with an incorrect statement: the unitary authority will affect local councils. Currently, parish councils mostly deal with their district council. This means that while a small town is just a dot on the map in the context of the whole county, in the district it has a bigger voice. Merv James then goes on to say that Shropshire will be made part of the West Midlands next. Shropshire is already part of the West Midlands euroregion and both Councillors Pate and Mosley who are pushing this proposal are members of West Midlands Regional Assembly which wants to replace local councils with regional governments. The unitary authority will mean less accountability and a smaller voice for parish councils. It might save money once reorganisation and redundancies have been paid for but is it worth the loss of local democracy? There is hardly any public support for the proposal, the county council is just embarassing itself by continuing to promote the proposal.

suspicious
Doesn't it make it clear why people are cynical about politics. The submission must include a concensus from all stakeholders, not the SCC saying yes and bulldozing other opinions, they should all be taken into account. from the various polls and publications it would appear that the majority of residents are at least uneasy over the process, if not against the proposals.

Rachel
The County Council is still removing posts from the blog, including one quite reasonably questioning why £60,000 is paid for a communications officer when this would pay for several people to carry out frontline services. Hardly democracy in action!

Liz from Shrewsbury
I totally agree with Julian. Anyone working in the public sector should be above reproach - how can the public be expected to trust any local government officers now? Incidentally, if you read the business case put forward by SCC the majority of 'posts saved' are in the under £30,000 a year bracket, ie the workers who actually do the day to day work on the ground. just dealing with the number of people who earn £60,000 a year would save us all so much money. how is a 'communications officer' worth two to three teachers or social workers?!!

Julian
Paul Masterman is on £60,000 a year, how many honest(!) and hard working civil servants would that pay for. Shocking behaviour. These are the people who are supposed to represent our interests as local residents. Weed out the liars and the cheats, let us have decent people working for us.

William Thomas
As I undestand it SABC currently has a healthy cash surplas and a lower tax rate than the other local councils. Can somebody please then explain to me why as an SABC tax payer I should vote to have my tax raised and my surplas spread across the other districts instead of being spent in Shrewsbury & Atcham area

Council Tax Payer
In addition, any comments posted on the County Council's blog questioning this act of censureship are also removed. Open and honest? I don't think so.

Council Tax Payer
The County Council has now removed all entries on their blog regarding Paul Masterman. Censoring comments that put the County Council in a bad light shows how undemocratic they are. Unbelievable.

Martyn Freeth
Since my posting below, SABC has issued a press release which refutes the claim by the County chief executive that the County were given no opportunity for input to the mailing which accompanied the postal voting forms. I recommend reading this on SABC's website. Easily accessed from the home page.

Pete
I was undecided until yesterday, then I heard Paul Masterman on BBC Radio Shropshire. He thought he would be clever started with an apology for his appalling behaviour (but what else could he be after he had been caught red handed trying to influence the people of Shropshire in this despicable manner) but then his arrogance showed through - he clearly was only upset that he was caught. When Jim asked him what action would be taken now because of his behaviour or what his position was he thought it quite reasonable for him to carry on as normal. If this is the way the big boys of the county council think its acceptable to act - lying and cheating their way to the top then I vote we stay with the more honest disctrict council and county council model - at least then there a system of accountability to stop people like Masterman in order.

Country peasant
SCC have been working towards unitary status for Shropshire for years. The waste partnership has already cost some districts more money and will continue to do so - who pushes for it and dominates it - SCC (surprise surprise) At least SABC has seen through the plot! Where's the call centre going to be - yes,Shirehall. It seems so easy to fool local councillors and the dual councillors who push it have their own agenda. You can have as many polls and votes as you like - the decision is already made. So we all need to roll over and play dead so SCC can walk all over us.

Malcolm MacINTYRE-READ
In Bridgnorth, an estimated £35,000 of our Council Tax is being spent by the BDC to circulate a heavily biased 'ballot' offering 2 choices. The first - to keep the status quo - has already been kicked into touch by the national government. Whether one is happy with the government's restrictions or not, that is reality until the next general election. Thus, some of our ever caring elected representatives have decided to waste our money, with no ability or willingness to provide objective arguements, let alone costings, to support their wish to stay as they are, leaving them open to the accustaion that the only things they are concerned to stay as they are are their allowances and their paower base. Of course, I am always happy to be proved wrong... but I won't be holding my breath. What I do hope for is stronger responsibilities & resources for the truly local level of government - the town and parish councils - but that will have to be recognised by a better class of councillor.

w. knowles
i worry that our village will be way down the list when it comes to any housing or roadrepairs it makes sense to keep the towns ahead of us will we be just forgotten

Shocked and Disgusted
The people at Shropshire County Council obviously hold the views of the electorate of Shropshire in contempt. First they try and deny the people of Shropshire a vote on the future of local government by using legal action, now they try and 'fix' the public vote held by the BBC! How can these people who try and undermine the democratic process possibly be trusted to run elections in the future?

Powys Geezer
I support the campaign for a unitary authority for Shropshire but think that Paul Masterman has damaged the integrity of SCC with his vote rigging attempt. SCC should suspend him from duty with immediate effect. Incidentally, I also noted a pro-unitary letter in the Shropshire Star in the last couple of weeks from Jo Turton, who rather coyly described herself as a 'public service worker'. It's a pity that she did not declare her true job title, which is the Head of the Chief Executive's Office at SCC.

Phil from Abbey Foregate
The Shropshire County Council is controlled by Conservatives. They are strongly in favour of the Unitary proposals. The SABC is controlled by Coonservatives. They are opposed to the reforms. I am totally in favour of the proosals because they make sound economic and financial sense. All the other stuff is just emotive clap-trap produced by those SABC Tories who foresee their fat council allowances at risk.

Aworkerwhoactuallypayscounciltax
I think it seems obvious that an unitary authority will save the majority of us money (or should do). The thing that I do not understand (and excuse my ignorance if I am mistaken)is how can it be "one voice for Shropshire" when Telford and Wrekin are allowed to do their own thing?

Martyn Freeth
For "Shirehall" should we now read "Watergate"? Did the County's head of communications act alone in mailing SCC staff as to how to vote more than once to influence a "yes" vote in BBC Shropshire's on-line poll? I for one have been expecting dirty tricks from the general direction of the Column.

Disillusioned
Seems 'Cynical' was right!If Mr Masterman, as Head of Communications at SCC is prepared to attempt to affect a public poll by letting staff know, in writing, methods of bypassing security, how can we, The Public expect them to treat the other electronic records and documentation held and controlled by SCC about us with any sort of integrity? This sort of example from a 'senior' member of council staff badly undermines public confidence in SCC – especially in the middle of such an emotive subject as the unitary council bid!

Martin Jones
These straw polls are always susceptible to influence and especially by those with strongly held views. It is a pity in recording the "influence" exerted by an employee that the website does not give equal prominence to the quite disproportionate publicity given to the no campaign by the local Newspapers - Tory controlled and owned - and Radio Shropshire. The case for a unitary Council is supported by a unanimous vote of a Tory controlled County Council.

Neil White
Perhaps I should be surprised - but I'm not. When the type of councils for the County were last looked at the status quo was the best option. The govenment didn't like it and asked the reviewers to try again and we ended up with Telford & Wrekin as a single authority within the County of Shropshire leaving the rest, of equal population size but geographically so much bigger, with the old system. This position was felt untenable by SABC at the time and it was accepted by the Councillors may of whom are still sitting on the councils involved that it would be the deathknell for the County Council and the Districts. Guess what, those Councillors have flipped and now with little having changed that could affect the decision of being overgoverned they are saying leave things alone. one has to wonder if interested and self and vested are words occuring in the same sentence. for the benefit of the county go unitary - you know it makes sense

Jack
The Borough Council talk about improved 2 tier, but without any details of how it will work. Their record of joint working with the County Council in the past has been abysmal, despite efforts to include them in major strategic matters such as waste collection and disposal. A unitary authority will avoid these petty attitudes AND give local people more say over their affairs by closer working with town and parish councils.We should have been bold enough to go for unitary status in 1998 when Telford became single tier; if we fail to do so again it will be a huge opportunity missed to improve services to people in the whole of the County.

David from Shrewsbury
A unitary council is perfectly placed to deliver local services and respond to local needs, without significant investment. The County Council has over 12,000 staff and only about 900 are based at Shirehall, the rest are spread out all over Shropshire. The County can and already does deliver 85% of your services locally across the whole of Shropshire, through Schools, libraries, Information points, day care centres etc etc in towns, villages and out in the country. Joining with the district and borough councils would further enhance this - the onecouncil proposal is not about centralisation it is about removing duplication and working together for a change. The majority of the resources are in place now, a point which the borough's paid expert appears to have missed completely. It just needs someone to bring altogether to enable you to have even greater access to your council than before and not pay the earth for it. Some of the comments here appear to miss this point completely, thats it also means there are over 12,000 council tax payers. I should think the majority live in Shropshire, don't you think they worry about council tax increases as well. I think there are only about 2,500 staff in all 5 district/borough councils put together and they are mainly centred in the main towns, hardly local. Vote YES to unitary.

Jonathan Roberts
There is no real choice. The present system, which has not been overhauled for over 30 years, is inefficient and unsustainable. Every business needs to re-examine itself every few years, and Councils are no different. If the unitary plan proceeds, it must be well executed. Heads on the local authority payroll must be cutback severely - it is a once in a generation chance. Parish and local councils must take up the reins left by their district councillors.

Tony Harris
There has been virtually no consultation with the public about a decision which will have a huge impact on our lives,Carolyn Downes and other non elected figures. would love to have even more power.A decision will need to be made by the 25.01/07.When we had the last coucil elections we did vote for this and if we are a true democracy every voter in the county should have a well informed referndum and not be bullied and railroaded into a crucial decision which will most likely be the start of a creeping regional assembly in Birmingham. on the bbc poll 65% were against a unitary authority.The research also showes it will cost a considrable amount of monet not save it as the county coucil claim

andy hounsell
i'd like to know where it was stated in any of the parties literature or manifesto commitment for the last local elections that you would establish a unitary authority with out first consulting ALL voters of shropshire.this is just a back door to regional government which this corupt government wishes to implement

Eileen Parry
Shropshire SHOULD become a unitary authority, to stop this Borough Council wasting our money.The expenses of Councillors is disgusting and quite out of control.Also they take no notice of what we say.and it is only now they are asking our opinion now they are in danger of losing control.

Ron Iremonger
SCC's 'Business Plan'seems sound, cut out all other tiers of local government and from the savings you get low Council Tax and better services. One council means the end to confusion about who to go for particular services SABC or SCC? There are benefits in the areas of social care, recycling etc. As a large unitary authority, we would be better able to compete with Birmingham, Coventry etc for government funding on large projects such as the NWRR. On the face of it this is an offer you just can't refuse. But what about democracy? Under a unitary authority Shrewsbury would have less councillors and a vastly more powerful (and remote) executive! We already hear folk questioning who is running the show, local goverment officers or our elected councillors! One gets the feeling we are being rushed into this by central government and that if we don't go unitary this time we will be forced to in the future. Is there a tendancy for bureaurats to desire simplicity over democracy? Confusing isn't it!

Martyn Freeth
The SCC case for one council has been exposed this week as a con. I wholly agree with the 63% who have so far voted No in Radio Shropshire's straw poll.

North Shropshire Boy
This should have happened when Telford went, and we wouldn't have spent years (and millions) on wasted duplication. SABC try and make out that their residents will be ripped off - I think the reverse is true. After they have frittered all their cash away on these vanity projects like a new office block and a new theatre I reckon Unitary taxpayers are going to have to pick up the bill when/if they cant pay their way. Despite the budget pressures, SCC have managed to run education, social services etc from Whitchurch to Ludlow successfully. What have SABC done? Emptied the bins in a tightly packed predominantly urban area, made some dubious planning/building decisions with little regard for democracy (and in the case of the Gay Meadow, little regard for bequests made to the Borough). The fact that so many district councillors sit as County Councillors should tell us something - removal of one set of allowances will save us all money. Any restructuring costs money, but our long term interests should be in providing efficient and cost effective services. Most Council services are now sub conbtracted anyway, so apart from self protection, it makes no difference whether a bin lorry is controlled by remote SCC or cuddly SABCC/NSDC/BDC etc. So long as there is real community engagement with Parish?Town councils we won't notice any difference.

Charles Powell
I don't think that we should convert to a Unitary Authority. My experience is that the bigger an organisation the more inefficient it becomes. What we need is EVOLUTION not REVOLUTION. Many thanks, Charles Powell

Borders Lad
With reference to Ed Jones' reference to the criticism about SABC waste collection service. How he can say that they have a good service when their recycling rates are so low and show no signs of improving. This reflects directly on the rest of us as the county council are responsible for the disposal of the residual waste and if the CC don't meet reduction targets they will be subject to increased landfill tax which will directly affect the council tax we all pay. Another point - surley SABC's decision not to join the Waste Partnership must cast some doubt on their ability to carry out enhanced two tier working.

Through the Hoop
Ed, you won't be able to read the case on here- try the One Council for Shropshire website and be reassured. Or the SABC one -and although you won't find an alternative vision.. they may have content to scare you.

Original Council worker
I would like to thank the entry from 'another council worker' who duplicated and then changed my comment which began 'I think many people forget we are real people...'. I am not annoyed that they copied my entry because it proves my point, as it is a perfect example of the duplication that exists between the councils. VOTE YES and remove such duplication and let us work together providing excellent local services to the people of Shropshire.

Ed Jones
I would like to know what a unitary authority would do to improve services, from what I read here nothing! People have criticised Shrewsbury and Atchams waste service, how can a service where I get my bid emptied every week and my re-cycling collected fortnightly be inferior to the less frequent services provided by other areas who are in the much vaunted waste partnership? If a unitary authority were to go ahead, would the rest of the county then enjoy the same level of service that the residents of Shrewsbury & Atcham do? No, we would have our service reduced to fortnightly collections and probably pay more council tax for the privilege. If this is an example of the 'improvents' on offer from a Unitary authority we are better of with the two tier approach.

David from Shrewsbury
I am very interested to know what Mike Symons would think and every other council tax payer if the County Council's responsibilities were split between the Districts councils. Considering the County Council provides over 85% of the local services you receive all across Shropshire including the small matter of education, social services and highways. I can't even imagine how much it would cost to duplicate the systems just to run the County Council's services for each of the five districts never mind the extra staffing! The Borough Council alone would need another NEW headquarters! We are trying to save money by removing duplication not spend even more. Imagine the tax burden on an area like Oswestry with a very small population. By the way Oswestry is a great town so lets keep it that way - VOTE YES to unitary.

"Feeling Left Out"
Hang on a moment, I'm feeling left out here... What about me, I live in Newport and therefore through no choice of my own come under Telford and Wrekin! If they want a united Shropshire why not let us in as well... Please.

Employee
William Smith, what happens if you decide to move out of the Shrewsbury area or your children do? Think of the other people in the county who don't come under SABC! Whats to say they get the same as you do! Wouldn't you want everyone to be treated the same no matter where you live. Unitary authority is the way forward, it should have been sooner!

Mike Symons
Power should be moved downwards, not upwards. Do away with the County Council and delegate its powers to the District Councils. Most County councillors have only a vague idea where Oswestry is, let alone what its problems are!

Tom - Bridgnorth
A vote for unitary is a vote for increased council tax (up by £117 in my district if it goes ahead), worse service provision, less representation, and less accountability. And SCC is being deceptive in its information, unitatry will not lower council tax, will not even guarantee reduced rates in council tax increases, would not save money or cut re tape, and was not voted for unaminously, some members weren't there and others abstained. And you want SCC to run everything? you can't even trust them to tell the truth. Enhanced two tier is a much more attractive alternative.

Mike Jones
Rember that a unitary council will be a long way away from many of our rural cumunities. The question that you must ask your self is how do people get to this so called unitary council and will the personal their know of the local issues that concern local resedents in these areas. Important decisions need to be taken at local level. That is why we have the system that is already in place, why waste thousands of pounds of tax payers money trying to fix something that is not broken, it will be council tax payers who pick up the bill for this by increased council tax, how do they expect the pensioners for example to pay for it or others on low incomes. Why should someone from the north of the county pass judgement about an issue in the far south of the county, paticulary when they don`t know the area that is why local issues for local people, lets keep things as they are and get back to basics and do them well.

Another council Worker
I think many people forget we are real people who live and work in Shropshire, I could be one of your friends, a relative or just the bloke down the road. Working in local government I face the problems of the current system on a daily basis and guess what when I go home I have the same issues as everyone else who lives in Shropshire. I worry about my council tax, when my bin is going to be collected and wonder why I can't get a service locally that my friend just down the road gets, just because they are in a different district. I want to receive excellent services and to be able to have my say on issues that matter to me at home. I certainly think Unitary is NOT the best way forward and that Locally focused councils are more efficient even though there is a slight risk of loosing my job as has been the case for several years as my employer (district council) is always making effeciency improvements/savings and reducing staff overheads. the County Council's proposal does not make sense. In five years time we could be wondering why the heck did we go Unitory. VOTE "NO" TO UNITARY. Keep your local council.

David From Cressage
Anybody who is interested in local government will know that this current proposal has been going on for nearly a year and not the last few weeks. Infact it is nearer 10 years since the first unitary bid for Telford was announced and it has been on the County Counicl's agenda ever since. So where is the 'No' camps case? Are they going to sneak one in at the last minute, or do they have no idea of what to do, that's hardly a vote of confidence as the closing date is only two weeks away. Talk about consultation, we are not going to be able to comment on it are we. Surely this is a reason in itself for change. It is easy to knock an idea, but extremely difficult to have one. The No camp say that more partnerships could be made, why not the ulitmate partnership and join together. The white paper says that they want change so really, what is the NO camps proposal? At least the OneCouncil bid has been out there for all to see and examine. The NO CAMP has had just as long to prepare an alternative, so where is it? They appear to have spent their time rubbishing the OneCouncil bid, I am not really interested in the 'independant reports' commissoned by the borough, which contains some pretty big assumptions. Don't forget all bids will be independantly audited before any decisions are made. No, I want to know the boroughs proposal, their vision, their ideas for change. The very fact that no alternative has really been costed or put forward to date makes me think that there is not one. Great, are we going to wait for the government to impose one us or are we going to get behind a one council proposal and make it work, because that makes real sense. VOTE YES

william smith
why fix something that isnt broke,sabc do a great job for the residents of shrewsbury and districts. it should be scc stripped of powers and returned to local authorities

the real objective and independent view
Bravo to- A Council Worker and Peter of Shrewsbury. Clear well considered views. Raspberry to- "Objective and Independent Views"- if only there were some on the website you mention. If you want to pursuade me you'll need to do better than paying anyone who'll accept your cash to write the line that you advocate.

Bridgnorth District Resident
I voted yes to unitary- and did so on the Council's costly opinion poll. (By the way, does anybody else find it strange that the documentation provided in the ballot was written by only one point of view-no?). I suspect some people at the Council live in cloud cuckoo land if they think that people at the edges of the district get a good service from the borough. People relate to their own communities, want low council taxes and high quality services. It can be managed without some of the current duplications and egos.

Peter of Shrewsbury
Having entered the debate yesterday I have been asking myself why, after living in the SABC area all my life, I have no positive thing to say about the Borough Council. I look back over recent years and look at the achievement of the Borough; selling off the housing stock,building the new guildhall, the theatre project, the talk of selling of Rowley's House, the Gaye Meadow move and the rejection of the Unitary option. Many of these have involved decisions being taken behind closed doors. Are the Borough worried that a Unitary Council may have a more open policy to freedom of information?

A council worker
I think many people forget we are real people who live and work in Shropshire, I could be one of your friends, a relative or just the bloke down the road. Working in local government I face the problems of the current system on a daily basis and guess what when I go home I have the same issues as everyone else who lives in Shropshire. I worry about my council tax, when my bin is going to be collected and wonder why I can't get a service locally that my friend just down the road gets, just because they are in a different district. I want to receive excellent services and to be able to have my say on issues that matter to me at home. I certainly think Unitary is the best way forward even though there is a slight risk of loosing my job because of it - the County Council's proposal really makes sense. In five years time we will be wondering why it was not done earlier. VOTE YES TO UNITARY.

Graham Ladley
I would vote 'yes' if the introduction of the unitary authority was combined with increased powers for the really local councils =i.e. the parishes and communities.It makes a lot of sense to organise services which we all need in large units, but to give a much stronger say to local people on such matters as planning.

Objective and Independent Views
Two independent reports are on the Shrewsbury & Atcham website that look at the Shropshire Unitary business case. Both are damning and pull the business case to pieces. The figures in the business case are outright incorrect and underestimate costs by up to £12 million. People in these comments have commented on 'negative research' but if this research stops a £12million mistake being made then it is money well spent. How much has the County Council spent on putting together the business case? That is money wasted. It is too late if Unitary goes ahead and we have an unwieldy giant Council that can't get it's sums right. We as Council Tax payers will be paying for their mistakes. NO TO UNITARY!!

Greenwood
Cllr Mrs. Sandford - I note that you are also a County as well as a Borough Councillor. Presumably you were amongst those who voted unanimously for OneCouncil back in November? Much has been made by the 'unitrary septics' about a possible erosion of local democracy if a unitary authority was to be created. Why then weren't the authorities in favour given a fair opportunity to make their case to the electorate in the public ballots, rather than having it written for them by the districts opposed to it? Hardly a shining example of local democracy in action is it?

North Shropshire resident
Going unitary would improve the services we get, be more efficient and we'd get more local say through the area meetings - I'm for it!

Proud Salopian too
Yes to Unitary - there is a common sense business case to run it as a Unitary rather than several smaller "businesses" and it will make life a lot more straightforward for the public.

Employee
Everyone moans constantly at the fact they have to go post to post to find out who is responsible for what. Now you have a solution of a unitary authority and you don't want it! Time to make up your minds!

Shropshire Patriot
I don't think it matters how we vote, the decision has already been made, otherwise more time would have been set aside for proper discussion by the people actually affected by any changes and all the pros and cons could have been investigated and questions asked before it was too late. One long term consequence of making everthing unitary is that it will make the step to 'Regions' that much easier and this is of course the undemocratic plan for 'Europe' so I say VOTE NO

Jill
Dead easy: if you live in the Shrewsbury area, what have you got to lose by going unitary? Pity about all those places like Broseley and Jackfield though: Bridgnorth DC scarcely knows or cares that they exist, and as part of a unitary authority under Shrewsbury they'll have no chance at all!

simon
Asking how we the tax payer feels about this is a joke. It is my understanding that council staff sre already receiving training towards a unitary council so there minds are made up!!! What i would like to know is how much this supposed vote/poll is costing whilst the council increases taxes and complains that they have to cut services

Proud Salopian
I don't think it matters how we vote, the decision has already been made, otherwise more time would have been set aside for proper discussion by the people actually affected by any changes and all the pros and cons could have been investigated and questions asked before it was too late. I believe any alleged savings would be temporary as this and previous governments seem to have no idea of the special needs and problems associated with mainly rural counties like Shropshire. We need more time and information to make decisions as important as this. VOTE NO TO UNITARY

Jennie Perks
For many years I have worked in the field of providing information and access to ALL council services and so I know first-hand just how much confusion there is about who provides what service and how you go about getting queries and problems resolved. Unitary would get rid of this confusion, get rid of duplication and save lots of money too. And if the network of Shropshire Customer First Points is retained and expanded, it will make LOCAL access to all council services so easy - especially for people who prefer not to use the phone or internet. Unitary definitely has my vote.

Dale
I would not read too much into the results of the internet vote’ should Shropshire go unitary’, as individuals may be encouraged to vote on more than one occasion to favour the argument! The majority of people would understand that a single authority would take away the existing confusion. New ideas will be approached with less costs and duplication of effort and responsibilities, which can only mean lower council taxes. Major projects such as waste management and social care can be approached without having the existing internal rivalry. The proposal would provide the opportunity to conduct things to scale and to get the same things done at less cost, therefore providing more stability for local people. It will not be easy, but it looks like the way ahead.

mr. s. williamsthe totals given
the totals given by the county council simply don,t add up, so god help us if we become unitary. so please please say a big no.

South East Salopian
Enhanced Two Tier working is the only sensible way forward to keep services local. Moving towards 'one council' with mean a Shropshire dominated by the urban problems of Shrewsbury. Let SABC run Shrewsbury, leaving the other district to run the market towns and rural hinterlands. If we want local accountability we must vote against plans for Unitary, write to your councillor, your MP and the Government ministers in charge.

Carl
A Unitary system from what i have seen with Herefordshire Council would mean over budgeted(more money to spend than they actually need) departments and cost cuts not being passed onto the public.

Shroppie Flyer
Davetheslave misses the point (poor soul).Bridgnorth gives excellent value for money and a Unitary will burn money for years

Di Beasley
YES

Salopianb
The One Council proposal looks forward positively- with a view to improvement for all. It is backed up by a detailed upbeat business case. It will be good for us to get the clarity on responsibility for services that a unitary authority would bring. There are also some duplications in roles/functions that can be reduced. There is no argument for me on "democracy". Having lived and worked in a rural unitary authority- I know that the clarity over responsibilities and the level of engagement between the unitary authority and parish/town councils- means that decision making can be quick and locally sensitive. The opposition to the One Council case seems to be just that. There seems to be time and council tax payers' money going on negative research, without much thought or effort going into building an alternative positive vision. I'd also add that on the negative survey results some people seem to be removing cookies and voting early and often-people there is work to be done... Finally, lets celebrate good work where it is happening, and challenge/seek improvement where its not- but neither tells me that we shouldn't be going for One Council on good rational grounds for future efficiency and improvement.

Angela of Cressage
No, Shropshire should not become a unitary council. It will not benefit residents or staff members of the Local Authorities. Residents will not be able to visit the council with any ease; there will be staff cuts, hence unemployment. Forgoodness sake, when will Local Government stop thinking about itself and start taking into account the people who fund it.

Borders Lad
The Governement White Paper states very clearly that the situation as is at the moment will not be allowed to continue and that enhanced two tier working will have to provide economies at least equivalent to those provided by going Unitary. Those Councils/Councillors opposing a Unitary Authority have yet to show that this could be achieved. I support a Unitary Council as I believe that it will provide better services and reduced council tax increases through economies of scale and will remove the problem of which council does what

Susan McCormack
Yes it should. It will save a lot of money.

Niall McCormack
The reduced no. of local councillors MUST be matched by more local say in matters selfishly dealt with by current co. council.

Bridgnorth Rob
I'm voting yes to Unitary. Here in Bridgnorth we have terrible services and it's getting worse. A Unitary could not possibly be worse.

Cllr.Mrs Eileen Sandford
I have voted NO with conviction. I am not a self interest councillor. I am looking to the future for the next generation. Despite what some say it will I am sure lead to Regional Government. To administration away from the people and local - particularly rural folk having 'no power' to put their point of view. Yes, we might have face to face video points to discuss things. That is not the same as local knowledge and nearby contacts. Anyone sitting in this Unitary Authority HQ will have to travel REGULARLY from one end of the County to another to understand - then you could question whether they would get 'the feal' of local people and local traditions which make them proud of their town or village. I doubt it. I do not think the cost of travelling and setting up local Council type contact points has been costed atall. Mike- this is not about Money and power for Councillors IT IS ABOUT PEOPLE, local people and representation. None of us do things perfectly. The present County or Borough are not perfect. I could pick holes in the County Council which will not improve if they form a Unitary set up. I worry about the Rural areas. Combine 6 parishes together and a Councillor in charge of their Committee!!? does that sound a good and practical idea? With more power? What happens after the 3 years guarantee period to the Council Tax??? Yes I was Mayor but we had few trappings and no power. I hope though that I helped promote Shrewsbury AND Atcham Rural Area and Town. I hope I helped to encourage and promote many Voluntary Organisations for young and old. Would Oswestry Councillors and those from other areas be so interested in promoting Shrewsbury Borough as we do now by for instance the work put into Britain in Bloom and Concerts in the Quarry etc, Of course not and would you expect them to do so? I spent an hour in the County Call centre a few weeks back. Excellent. So why can't we combine that with the Districts to avoid some confusion as to who does what etc?? Would be cost effective and help residents and businesses. UNIFORMITY NO, NO NO. NO to UNITARY and next step REGIONAL GVT. Good Brian Dabinett Mr Sedman, Alan Saltand excellent points Local Tax`Payer. I shall probably be pushing up daisies when we really come to appreciate what we are voting on now. BUT let us try to think of the future despite the rush now being forced on us. Yes improve services but keep our local pride and responsibilty. Democracy it is called. VOTE NO.

David from Cressage
There appears to be a lot of misunderstanding about the unitary debate. From reading this and the newspapers many people appear to think that there is an option of no change on the table. I think people should read the white paper for themselves - because they are in for a big surprise. It clearly states that the government wants change. So either we put forward an option or run the risk of having one imposed on us. Sorry folks, change is on its way whether we like it or not. I have read the County Council's case from their Shropshire magazine and it answers a lot of questions and puts forward a very strong case indeed. Read it for yourself and make your own mind up. If there is a valid/costed alternative why has it not been put foward by the 'NO' camp. People talk about loosing a local voice, if this is really an issue why is there such a poor turn out for local elections? I think a unitary council is the way to go - lets have one council for Shropshire. Don't forget even unitary coucillors will have to be elected!

Philip Usherwood
What really worries me is that those in charge of managing an entity the size of Shropshire can't come up with accurate numbers to define which option would be the least costly. Vested interests, poor accounting, lack of accountability and other issues no doubt stand in the way of what should be a very rational decision making process. Businesses make decisions based on returns on capital, public services should make decisions based on returns to their public.

Confused?
Yes I am a SABC resident and no I don't agree with every decision the Council has made but there are questions re this Unitary debate that I need answers to: 1. How is it that the "transistion costs" are so low? Surely a lot of the posts that will be deleted are high paid posts - chief executives, finance, legal etc - Shropshire currently has six of each so we wont need five - I've read that in Powys it cost over £1m to make eight people redundant, the County are quoting about £3.5m - is this figure accurate? 2. I try to recycle as much as I can and am very concerned about waste disposal. I read recently that SABC has the lowest recycling figures however SABC also spends about £40 (ish) less per household. If you look at the other local districts their recycling figures are not much higher but they spend a lot more - surely this muddies the figures - we can all achieve higher targets if we throw money at them. 3. I have followed this Waste Partnership debate closely and have asked questions of SABC. It seems that SABC were unwilling to sign up to it as they were concerned that it was going to cost a lot more money than was being suggested. They asked for clarification from the County Council but it was not forthcoming. Can the County Council or this new partnership they have set up tell us if the figures they were anticipating are correct - I have asked SABC but they have not been told the value of the tenders received. Perhaps the County Council could tell us if there budget figure was correct or do we presume by their silence that SABC's were right to be concerned? I think I will stick to my rule that unless I know all the details contained in the small print I am signing nothing!

Stuart Kerr
Unitary is the only answer. Reducing the duplication in Finance, IT, Personnel and all the other support services can only save money. Interesting that so many people want to see their Coucil Tax reduce, but with better services. The only way to provide effective services is by getting rid of the duplication.

Jim
The case for a single unitary authority is absolutely compelling. With a population of just under 290,000 the current two tier system with 6 chief executives, 6 sets of chief officers, and 6 sets of local members (many of them sitting at county, district and parish level) is simply not affordable, efficient or sustainable in the face of the demands and expectations made on modern local government.

Peter of Shrewsbury
All this talk of local decision making. The majority of all council funding comes from Central Government. Even a percentage of the SABC pot their so fond of keeping must be due back to the Exchequer. How many Councilors are on both district and county councils, is that the representation other are talking about?

Martin S
I think most people are not interested in preserving Districts, Boroughs or whoever. We all just want the best services at the keenest price. I live in Westbury and it would be so much simpler if there was one place to call when we have a problem. Trying to remember who does what is a nightmare. I am voting yes to Unitary.

Alan Salt
I do not believe rural areas can benefit from a unitary authority This system may work well for densely populated areas but rurally can only mean loss of transparency and democracy

Stan Sedman
I do not believe the proposed savings (as stated by the County Council) of a unitary authority will materialise. The cost of the change and reorganisation will cost the tax payers millions (much more than the County Council suggest). Local government means just that and the ability of the individual to be able to see action taken on their behalf. The County Council do an excellent job in those areas such as Education, Social Services and Highways. I do not, however, believe that they will be able to give the same service as we receive at the moment from a District Council in areas such as local planning matters, cleaning and waste, parks, community matters such as entertainment, swiming baths, sports centres, car parking and markets. The County Council talk about Local Area Committees - this is still a two tier system and how they will operate is a bit "woolly" and not truly costed. I am happy with the County Council in what they do at present and am more than happy with the service provided by Shrewsbury and Atcham. The County Council case appears to be purely to tidy up systems and procurement but they do mention much about people on the ground. Why change something which is working well for us the residents.

Tony
The figure of £3 million that the county council give for the transition costs is very low when compared to figures of 5 times as much in simlilar proposals from other counties (Cumbria and Northumberland). It looks like Ms Downs et al have made some fundamental oversights in their calculations. What troubles me is that by the time the oversights reveal themselves, the districts will have gone and it will be too late to go back. Is this a deliberate ploy by Ms Downs?

v evans
Am totally against a Unitary Council, one power is not the answer for shropshire and will not mean lower Council Tax, if you live in Bridgnorth District Area C Tax will increase more than in the other proposed unitary area. Services would not be improved as local people would have to travel to Shrewsbury to get face to face contact, a real proplem for the elderly and people with no transport. You would lose the accountability if you had one power.

deadagainstit
Would just like to say that 'allforit's' comments obviously means he doesn't live in Bridgnorth - as if he did he would know that Unitary definitely means higher Council tax.

David From Shrewsbury
We have some excellent high performing council's in Shropshire. Unfortunately they are not all pulling in the same direction. I am certain it would be better for us all if they were. You've got the County Council providing over 85% of our services and the district/boroughs providing the rest. They are already working together on projects that matter, so why not on all projects. Like many people I have been passed around the different councils trying to access services - with one council that wouldn't happen. Save time, save our money - the proposals say we will have local accountability so lets go for it - I vote YES to unitary.

Cynical
You may not want to believe it, but now way does this percentage change seem the result of the general public voting!!!

Robin Geit
I fail to see why people in Bridgnorth should pay less for their services than we do in Oswestry. A unitary authority would redress this inbalance.

Sarah
No we should definitely vote against Unitary. For residents of Bridgnorth it would mean an increase in Council Tax by approx 60% - reason being - all of the Council tax would be brought into line and considering South Shropshire pay twice as much as us in Bridgnorth - it can only mean a huge increase. As far as services go - the thought of residents' queries going through to one centralised call centre in Shrewsbury doesn't bear thinking about - what do people in Shrewsbury know about small rural hamlets in the Bridgnorth area? What next I wonder, will Mr Prescott think of for Local Government - a call centre in India??!! The comments about it just meaning loss of a few Councillors are irelevant - what matters at the end of the day is value for money and to have the Council tax increased and the services moved further away to me sounds ludicrous.

Council Worker
The duplication of tasks amongst the Districts is indefensible in my view and I consider "unitary" provision of services should provide the best service, even if still dispensed from existing district offices.

Margaret Laming
I believe that the community in Shropshire would lose there customer service which at the moment is excellent. How can somebody who works and probably lives nowhere near for example Bridgnorth know all the issues which could occur here. Big is not always better.

Borough Councillor Jackie Brennand
A resounding NO to a unitary authority. The County Council officers claim in their business plan that it will only ! cost £3 million to get rid of 180 plus employees; it cost Powys millions more than that to get rid of just 6!This is just one instance of where their plan is nonsense. This attempt to rush us into a decision is to fulfil the ambitions of a few and also a step in the direction of the regional assembly.We enjoy a low Council Tax in Shrewsbury compared with the rest of the County - let's keep it that way because it will surely rise under a unitary scheme otherwise.VOTE NO TO UNITARY ,YES FOR TWO TIER!

Simon Ward
While a unitary authority may work moderatly well for compact urban areas Shropshire is simply far to large for a single authority to have a positive effect. I would totaly doubt that any financial gains could be made from such an authority, though I am sure that SCC would mor than welcome the assets that some of the district councils would bring to them !

Ms P
The District is a rural area and many people who depend in public transport prefer to visit the BDC offices in person. This would not be possible if BDC were incorporated in an unitary authority based in Shrewsbury as public transport is either unreliable or non-existent.

davetheslave
Rushed consultation with what appears to be a one-sided view of the arguments. Another comment says: "if it aint broke why fix it". In the case of Bridgnorth perhaps it should read "Broken: fix it". Go unitary sort out the mess, cut bureaucracy, reduce jobs & the Council Tax. If you don't it will be compounded for years to come.

AJ
FAO:merv james and what, exactly, is wrong with the west midlands????

Employee
If the reasons were more about service provision and not egos, the debate might have some purpose

Thomas
"Allforit Are people stupid. Moving to a unitary council will save us council tax at the expense of a few highly paid job losses. We should all support the changes wholeheartedly." Actually no it won't, it 'may' reduce council tax increases, but read the fine print, thats just speculation and not been confirmed. Most of your council tax goes to SCC anyway, hardly any goes to your district, any you think giving the CC more power will lower Council Tax?

Trish
the current system is not working so I think we should go fior a unitary. It surely must save money as well.

Gerard Roche
A must, tax payers must have a lean Council and going Unitary enables economies of scale, jobs, property reductions with centres of excellence that are fair to all areas of Shropshire thus benefiting the tax payer.

Libby
One governing body rules out repetition and duplication, this can only result in efficiencies and should therefore be welcomed. I believe those who are making noises to keep the smaller organisations are only looking after their own interests

Cynical
Judging from the speed at which the percentages are changing backwards and forwards, either very few people are interested in which case one vote can make a big difference, OR, the District/Borough Councils and the County Council are all happily voting as fast as they can from their desks to try and swing the vote - Well doesn't that make the results realistic!!! And what a wonderfull way to be spending the working day!!!

Steven Taylor
We are currently paying 6 chief executives and a whole raft of other senior officials with duplicate responsibilities. A unity authority would, under the governments new arrangements, give us economy of scale to get the same things done cheaper and the new democratic arrangements would give us greater stability, whilst ensuring that local people had a voice on local issues.

Keen Recycler
We need a single council - what is the alternative? I have yet to see anything realistic. Shrewsbury Council talks about making savings by working closer together when they have already cost taxpayers millions by being the only council in the county to refuse to join a partnership arrangement to make savings on waste management costs - which would benefit all tax payers and not just those in Shrewsbury! Talk about hypocrisy!

David
I will vote a big Yes to unitary. Many of the comments are missing the bigger picture - I am from Shrewsbury born and bred and proud of it. But Shrewsbury is a small fish in a very big pond. There are 95,000 people in the borough and 5.3 million people in the West Midlands. We can't just hide away here and think that nothing is going to change - it will. To have our say we need a stronger voice and one united council will do that. It is bound to save money, just removing the dupication from the system alone will do that, never mind economies of scale etc.

Sophie Ewan-Roberts
Keeping things as they are isn't an option - we have the choice of becoming a unitary authority or changing to an enhanced two tier system. Quite a lot of people seem to have missed this point.

PETERLAURIE
I'm more concerned by how Unitary will affect the SABC plans to move to refuse collection every other week and charging for the collection of green waste.

Hervé
Shropshire should only become a unitary authority if it means cutting down on the number of useless local politicians.

Jack
I'm strongly in favour of a unitary authority. What the public doesn't see is the petty politics and rivalry that goes on behind the scenes which slows up decison making and costs money. Shrewsbury and Atcham's failure- for no good reason - to join in with a Waste Partnership for the whole County is a good example.

shrewsbury tax payer
The One Council for Shropshire proposes equalising council tax across Shropshire to the highest level. This means that people in Shrewsbury, which currently has the lowest overall tax rate, will be paying more in Council tax for no improvement in services !!! Thats before the cost of setting up a Town Council. There is certainly no proposals for anyone to have a reduction in Council tax in Shropshire. I can't see the rational for Shrewsbury people to pay more, lose their local decision making and have no improvement in services. The local authorities should continue to work together to make things better.

hiphappy
For goodness sakes. It's quite obvious that moving to Unitary is the best option. Oh no wait, SABC want us to stay as- we are which is not an option, but haven't been bothered to put another option to us. It seems to me that it is a bunch of SABC councillors and ex-mayors trying to feather their own nests. When will you learn, it's not about you SABC, it's about all of us. I live in SABC, and really, the services are nothing special. I have lived in many places in the UK both rural and metropolitan, and SABC are miles behind in terms of recycling, leisure facilities (oh no, they built the Leisure village - but now expect the County Council to bail them out) than what a lot of places are. I'm sorry for all the normal people who just want to hear the facts. I know the facts for - but what are the facts against? Nothing, zip, zilch all we get is www.wingeandcomplain.com. I am not a 100-year old councillor. I am in my late 20s. I have not sat on county councils, borough councils and regional assemblies (which so many councillors seem to want to profess - I personally would keep that hidden - it sounds like a reason NOT to vote for you or your case! I have not had gold chains on my neck (so I get an over-inflated reality of my own ego) I am a normal person, with common sense, life and business experience - who was born and raised in Shropshire. Whilst I understand the need for Shrewsbury to be recognised as the beating centre of Shropshire - this is no time to rest purely on history and pomp and tradition... where is that going to leave us in ten years time when services are properly rubbish, when we truly won't have any swimming facilities in Shrewsbury, when traffic is clogging up our traffic arteries so much that we can't move. SABC say they are the best for Shrewsbury? Well, at the moment, they are moving businesses and trade out of the town centre to out-of-town destinations. Shrewsbury's becoming ill and we need to address it properly. I know many people in Shrewsbury who cannot access these out-of town centres. I know many people who are disgraced by the way SABC went about building their new offices on Frankwell Quay...to name just two issues. Come up with a decent alternative SABC and let us have a true decision to make. At the moment the only people who seem to want to do the best for us is Shropshire County Council, Oswestry and South Shropshire. Annoyed (and slightly bored by the councillor rubbish) from Shrewsbury!

r plimmer
no

Jacki
I have just read the vote form from Shrewsbury Council. I am deeply worried that the for and against case is all written by the people who have a vested interest in keeping their job

Shropshire lass
Currently the borough council collect the rubbish, then the county council disposes of it. The chief executive in the borough council has an office & admin support, down the road there's another chief exec with an office and admin support. Some councillors are already on both levels of council. I'm only seeing positives for a Unitary council.

Mike
In industry companies are always buying each out and merging to generate more profit. Surely we as ratepayers deserve the same. I am very much in favour.

Rod
Yes to a Unitary. It's about time we streamlined the fat cat local councils.

A Shropshire Lad
Judith Williams (below) refers to "the ancient borough of sabc". Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council was brought into being in 1974. Shropshire County Council was created in 1888. But this debate is not about the past. It is about the future. The One Council proposal looks forward and shows how things can be improved for us all, backed up by a detailed business case. The opponents of the proposal are just that -- they are not giving us any detailed proposals for future improvements.

Janette Stone
The proposal for unitary is to eliminate wasteful inefficiencies and SAVE money on a continuing basis, while also improving services and giving local people a greater say. It won't be approved unless it does all that, and so far the case for it looks very good to me. I think the blurb above here is very unfair, saying opponents of unitary say it 'could be very costly'. There is no mention of the counter-argument about it consistently saving money. I think there has been a lot of misinformation put out by bosses who are just protecting their jobs -- when the good of all the citizens is for a streamlined unitary.

Hilda
If we were starting from scratch then unitary might be a reasonable choice, but we're not. The disruption and interruption to services during the transitional period outweighs the gains that could be had.

James Baker
I am totally against going Unitary. Shropshire is far too large to be governed by one 'all powerful' Council. I also want to know why Carolyn Downs tried to prevent the referendum taking place - does she not want the people of Shropshire to have a say in her trying to taking over? Also if going Unitary is going to save so much money (I doubt it would with all the redundancy payouts) why the need to put up Council tax in Shrewsbury & Atcham? This is one of the first things they plan to do as a Unitary authority. With all the savings they keep talking about shouldn't they also be talking about Council tax going down?

judith williams
lets keep the ancient borough of sabc and be big enough to be an excellent council and small enough to give personal attention. lets keep our borough mayor, for the people of the borough, and continue providing the wonderful council services which our residents pay for and duly expect. Incidentally they pay less than anywhere else in the Borough! It aint broke, so dont fix it! VOTE NO TO UNITARY AND ( SOB) SAVE OUR BOROUGH!

Shrewsbury Tax Payer
I've also just noticed the title of this article 'Who should rule Shropshire?' - surely it is the people that rule Shropshire, the Council's just work for us! With regard to the OneCouncil bid that will apparently make efficiency savings, Shrewsbury & Atcham BC accounts for 9% of our Council Tax, Shropshire County Council accounts for 71%, if savings are to be made, shouldn't they start in-house to cut costs and lower our Council Tax? Say NO to unitary and keep our local services and local representation!

Allforit
Are people stupid. Moving to a unitary council will save us council tax at the expense of a few highly paid job losses. We should all support the changes wholeheartedly.

Joy
As usual with authorities today, this is being rushed through before the general public who pay their wages have had chance to evaluate the pros and cons. I NEED A LOT MORE INFORMATION BEFORE I CAN COME TO A DECISION.

Ned
The most important thing is, as you say, that the people of Shropshire get the best deal. I don’t think that will happen if we allow our Councils to spend 5 years and a shed-load of money, reorganising themselves before they get their act together and get their minds back onto delivering top quality services.

Council Tax Payer
No, keep local representation. As a Shrewsbury resident and tax payer I'm currently paying one of the lowest Council Tax rates in the County, if we go unitary, our tax rate will go up to equalise with the rest of the County. The County Council promises restricted rises for 3 years, but what happens after that? The County Council claim it will cost £3m, the Shrewsbury & Atcham Borough COuncil claim it will be much higher, around £20m. Who knows? Who will have to pay the costs of changing to unitary for no obvious benefit? Me and you the taxpayer! We already pay too much Council Tax, keep things as they are!

HipHappy
C'mon people. The most important thing that matters is that we, the people of Shropshire, get a better deal. If this means that a few of the useless Councillors have to worry about thier positions - GREAT! If it means that we get one council rather than six - who cares? It strikes me that there are a'lucky' few who live out in the sticks who have a lot of money and very traditional views - heaven forbid we actually change! Get with the programme - we all need to change for the better I say.

Thomas Thorpe
Why do we need Unitary. This is moving towards local towns being managed /run by a more central distant government organisation. The closer town management move toward downing street pulling the strings the worse off we will be. My local Council SABC, manage their finances very well, being well in credit £50m. The county council, who remember take 71% of your council tax, borrowed this 06/07 year over 150 million pounds. Thats surely is bad management of a large organisation. Who pays the interest on that borrowed money? Yes me and you the council tax payer. If we go Unitory will SABC's financial sucess be soaked up by another large badly managed organisation? No thankyou.

Andy Frances
I've heard it could cost an awful lot more for a Unitary Authority than is being stated. Have the transition costs been worked out in detail? With both Shropshire CC and Shrewsbury & Atcham BC doing such a good job why spend all that money combining them all? Shrewsbury & Atcham seem to have plans to work more closly with the others already. Surely this is better option?

Alan Hyatt
On the face of it the proposition makes sense. However, the devil is in the detail, & there has been precious little of that. We need to see a stategic plan and some the cost saving figures. We could end up making large redundancy payouts commitments to pensions for ex employees only to find they will have to be re-employed later to deliver a "more local service" Until more detail is available I would err on the side of caution "if it aint broke why fix it" Our politicians and employees ( the chief execs) need to make the case in a clear and definitve manner.

Peter Pugh
Most of us do not have a clear idea of which body does what. A single authority will take away the uncertainty. It is essential that the current forward reaching proposals for Shrewsbury are adopted by the new unitary authority. Less bureaucratic layers must mean less costs and hence lower council taxes. As an example can we now sell the Shrewsbury Guildhall ?

m.hopley@blueyonder.co.uk
No. big is not beautiful and so many mistakes are made, nobody answerable

Brian DaBinett
I think it is outrageous that such a fundamental change has only been announced with little more than 2-3 weeks of consultation. Who is responsible the Minister or the Councils? Although the current system is flawed with self interest groups at a local level I can't see how centralisation would necessarily improve things, typically in other sectors when consolidation happens in a poorly planned way it ends up costing too much, not delivering the results expected and then being scrapped.

merv james
i think it would be a bad move.next thing would be making us part of the west midlands,god forbid !!!

Jaxutton@aol.com
NO; unless there are area reps. elected for each disrict, think it could be a takeover by the 'Biggies' Jax SY11

David Jones
This article is slightly misleading. The third tier of local government, the parish and town councils, will not be affected by the unitary proposals. The only change at this (lowest) level is the creation of a town council for Shrewsbury (which will require a parish to be created where Shrewsbury is). Also, you forget to mention that Telford & Wrekin will not be affected whatsoever by the proposals - it is a separate unitary authority already and separate from Shropshire. I support the proposals for a unitary authority for Shropshire. The district councils are an unnecessary layer. Also I think Shrewsbury needs a town council and this should happen whether the unitary proposals go ahead or not.

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