Putting residents first
The leaders of Surrey’s 11 district and borough councils have launched their ‘Putting Residents First’ campaign to transform local government in the county and bring decision making and services close to communities.
Work has started on proposals for a modern approach to local government, to be shared with central Government as part of the debate on its anticipated ‘Recovery and Devolution’ white paper due to be published this autumn. The white paper signals its desire to reform local government – an opportunity Surrey’s district and borough councils are eager and enthusiastic to embrace.
Surrey’s Leaders are agreed that the proposals will centre around simplifying and improving local government. All viable options are on the table including the retention of a modified two-tier system as well as multi-unitary solutions. Providing residents with easier and local access to all their council services, enabled by digital transformation, will be a key element of the work. As will be ensuring that the future approach ensures the democratic accountability between councillor and resident remains strong.
The proposals are to be shaped and informed by new thinking, data, insight, research and engagement with residents.
The focus will be on creating local government offering the best results for residents – one which:
- Remains close to local communities
- Takes a ’place-based’ approach, where services, support, infrastructures, highways and development are influenced by local need rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach – all under the scrutiny of accountable, local elected representatives
- Provides value for money
- Is efficient and effective
- Makes it easy for different public and private services including councils, health, police, businesses and others to work together
- Continues to provide and improve the support and services residents need
- Reflects the geographical and population differences of the county.
Councillor Eber Kington, Chairman of the Strategy and Resources Committee at Epsom & Ewell Borough Council, said: “We continue to believe that closer to, not further from, our residents is the way forward. Accessing a remote council dealing with 1.2 million residents is not the same as contacting local councillors who are close by, responsive and know the area.
“Therefore any changes made have to uphold values which are at the heart of our borough – efficient and effective services, local democratic accountability, accessibility of councillors and truly effective representation for local communities.
“Crucially any changes in Surrey must be must be informed and shaped by the views and ideas of our residents and we want to hear from them over the coming weeks and months”.