‘Scrap borough and district councils and save the libraries’

News from the Boston Standard, Lincolnshire: bostonstandard.co.uk, on Twitter @standardboston
News from the Boston Standard, Lincolnshire: bostonstandard.co.uk, on Twitter @standardboston

Radical cost-cutting measures involving the axing of Lincolnshire’s district councils will be proposed by councillors tomorrow in a bid to save front line services and libraries.

Burgh and Wainfleet ward-holder Coun Chris Pain – at the centre of a UKIP leadership storm this week – wants authorities such as Boston Borough Council to be axed to save money.

He wants to leave just Lincolnshire County Council as the only authority in charge, and says West Street’s Municpal Buildings would remain simply as the county council’s Boston HQ.

Coun Pain believes the unitary status would save up to £25 million a year after examining a similar case in Wiltshire.

He says the cash would plug a £125 million funding shortfall caused by Government cuts to 2015 and would end the need to close any of the county’s libraries. Kirton, Donington and Coningsby are on the at-risk list.

“We must explore options that maximise impact on finances whole minimising adverse impact on the people we all serve...We cannot ignore such an opportunity,” he said.

By moving all council-run services under one authority, Coun Pain believes the economies in scale and the sharing of back office functions would make ‘considerable savings’.

Although the expense of implementing such a transition in Wiltshire came to £18 million, the county’s new unitary authority estimates it went on to save £100 million in the following four years.

Coun Pain’s suggestion, seconded by Coun Alan Jesson, follows in the footsteps of proposals made last year by Lord Heseltine in his ‘No Stone Uncovered in the Pursuit of Growth’ review.

The report called for all two-tier authorities outside London to pursue unitary statuse.

“The number of different councils doing similar things remains costly and confusing - for many the range of different systems is baffling too,” the report stated.

Coun Pain’s motion will be discussed by councillors tomorrow (Friday). He is also leading a ‘breakaway’ group with five other UKIP councillors, with the final line-up set to be revealed tomorrow.