Published Wednesday, 19th August 2020

The Leaders of Surrey’s 11 district and borough councils launch their ‘Putting Residents First’ campaign to transform local government in the county.

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 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 including multi-unitary solutions, are on the table as Surrey Leaders look to replace the current model where responsibilities are split across different organisations.

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.

Best results for 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.

Representative of communities

Formally announcing the start of this work, Cllr Nick Prescot, Leader of Runnymede Borough Council and Chairman of the Surrey Leaders' Group, said: ‘The Government’s proposed white paper on ‘Recovery and Devolution’ is a once in a lifetime opportunity to rethink what we do, how we do it and to put Surrey’s 1.2 million residents squarely at the heart of future local government in Surrey.

‘It’s vital we seize this opportunity to make decision making and services accountable to and representative of our communities. Residents want to build up a working relationship with their local councillors, not be sending them an email in a queue.  Local politics demands local expertise where the councillor is close by and responsive.

‘Our proposals must be informed and shaped by the views and ideas of our residents. We want to hear from them and will be asking residents for their views and ideas over the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, we strongly urge Government Ministers and MPs to keep an open mind and consider all proposals when deciding the future of local government in Surrey.’