East Kent leaders have been taking part in a series of discussions about options for closer collaboration between the five East Kent district councils of Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Shepway and Thanet.
This work is in response to the Government’s devolution agenda, financial challenges facing local government and the opportunity to drive improvements and growth in the East Kent region.
These discussions are in the very early stages and have led to a consensus to explore the potential benefits and savings that could be achieved through the merger of the five East Kent district councils, into a single district authority. It would also seek to explore the best place for services across the three tiers of local government (county, district and town & parishes) to ensure the most accessible and efficient services for the public.
In the coming weeks, each Council will consider a short paper seeking agreement to carry out a thorough evaluation of this opportunity. At this stage the reports are not seeking formal approval to go ahead with a merger but are seeking approval for a ‘statement of intent’ which then allows the councils to start exploring the options, through a business case evaluation.
The options will then be brought back to each Council around the end of the year for formal consideration and should the business case show that there are significant advantages, there will of course be consultation before a final decision is taken.
Ashford Borough Council, 7th July 2016