Poorer West Devon District Council agreed to talks with richer South Hams District Council. A consultation showed that a majority of people in both districts were against the move, which would have seen the South Ham council tax rise to match that of (more sparsely populated) West Devon. Both councils have large Conservative majorities.
South Hams District Council agreed last night to merge with its poorer neighbour. But, in a surprise move, again last night, West Devon voted not to merge!
It appears councillors in West Devon feared a loss of autonomy (and their jobs?) and felt that other avenues for making up a £1 milion plus shortfall had not been sufficiently examined.
Owl feels there is a very complex political back story here!
“Plans for two Devon district councils to merge are off.
South Hams and West Devon councils already share some services but proposed a full merger, saying it would mean £500,000 in savings annually.
Last night, members of South Hams authority voted in favour of the proposals, despite the fact it would have meant higher council tax bills for its residents – a £25 increase a year for three years.
But, in a surprising twist, West Devon councillors voted against, even though it’s the poorer authority.
It leaves it needing to find another way to plug a £1m projected black hole in its finances.”