Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Future of St. Neots - Options - My comments

There is a new site called The Future of St Neots. There is a section on the future Governance of St Neots and looks at the different options regarding where St Neots could be.
This is very true. Except South Cambs would have to agree to us joining with them. It could be the case St Neots wants to join and South Cambs doesn't want us. The focus will be on developments around Cambridge. I would further point out that in such a Council St Neots would have roughly 17% of the representation. Same as in Huntingdonshire.
Another con would be the Leisure Centre, Priory Centre and the parks. These would have to be taken over by the Town Council. The costs would be added to the Town Tax which would need roughly £1.2 million extra to run. This would work out to £120 on each average Council Tax bill.
I don't see how Towns would have more control over local issues when the decision would be taken in Cambridge. Also you would have to get all the other Districts to agree to this plan. To have this vision of Towns doing more there would have to be primary legislation to allow more powers. I do feel there needs to be a better idea of the numbers. Getting rid of say 4 Chief Executives at £200,000 each would save over the County £4 per Band D Council Taxpayer. 
The idea that combining District Councils would make mean less staff is a myth. Many of these mergers have always thrown up problems over management. There are many unitary authorities over the country which are testaments to how to make a mess of local government.
Not really. The major supplier of money, central government have a large say in what local government does.
The simple answer is yes. Rutland County Council is a unitary authority of roughly 39,000 residents works. It was understood right from the start that this would cost. This differential is roughly £250 extra per Band D Council Taxpayer. 
The real problem with this is St Neots doesn't have the local government infrastructure to take on these responsibilities and would have to build them up. 
And the Leisure Centre!
Before making statements, lets take a look at the statistics. Huntingdonshire has a population of 168,000 of which 30,000 live in St Neots. So 17% live in St Neots and 83% don't. St Neots gets 9 District Councillors out of 52 or 17%. Huntingdon has 12% of the population and with 7 Councillors out of 52 has 13% of the population. Even if all the Councillors from Huntingdon and St Neots were added together they would only be 16 out of 52 or 30%. So 70% of the population of Huntingdonshire don't live in either St Neots or Huntingdon.

So why is Huntingdon getting more than St Neots? Simply because it is the centre of a conurbation including, St Ives, Brampton, Godmanchester and other villages has a population of over 50,000. Add in Sawtry and Ramsey and this adds another 15,000 to these numbers making 65,000.

The one option that has been missed is to move to Bedfordshire. Not a good option but an option nevertheless. 

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