Surrey ‘Unitary Authority’ – what does it mean?

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Surrey has a county council along with 11 borough and district councils – one of which is Mole Valley, our district council. We elect local councillors each year to represent North and South Bookham’s local needs at district level – where many decisions are currently made.

Surrey County Council has proposed forming a “Unitary Authority”. The plans would see the Surrey’s 11 borough and district councils abolished in favour of one single authority responsible for issues like housing and planning applications. It would also see local parish and town councils empowered.

There is a debate at the moment over whether one single authority should be formed, or whether several smaller authorities are needed to ensure everything is fair and effective. 

SCC’s leader, Tim Oliver, wants to create one single council with responsibility for all 1.1 million residents in Surrey. Supporters believe it can save money and reduce conflict between different councils. Others fear that it could be too big to be able to properly react to local issues, and would be one of the largest unitary councils in the country.

If we are to 'level up' in Surrey, then a single unitary is the only viable model for local government reform

Tim Oliver, leader Surrey county Council

A single unitary authority is too large and will have a detrimental impact on the social cohesion of the communities

Caroline Reeves, leader Guildford Borough Council

It is not clear what powers would be devolved to parish and town councils who currently look after hyper-local issues such as parks, community centres, allotments and war memorials, or what would become of organisations such as Bookham Residents’ Association.

Join the discussion over on the I Live In Bookham Facebook group (private group) and page (public page).

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