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Conservative Plans for Council Merger Scuppered

December 18, 2017 2:46 PM

A merger between South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council was scuppered after WDBC suddenly pulled out at the last minute, despite support from the Tory-led South Hams Council.

Even though 37 out of 45 parish and town councils said "No" to the merger, Conservative councillors on SHDC wanted to push through the merger with its cash-strapped counterpart.

If it had gone through, the district council part of the Council Tax would have risen by 40% as a result, with little or no improvement in services - most of the money would have been spent in West Devon, not the South Hams.

What stopped the merger was West Devon Borough Council rejecting the plan at the 11th hour.

The Conservatives applied the whip and almost all the Conservatives on South Hams Council followed their party line and voted for the merger, even though it would mean higher Council Tax, higher debt burdens for the merged Council, greater financial risk flowing from speculative financial investments and no improvement in Council services for South Hams residents.

The parish and town councils had reflected the views of local communities across the South Hams, where 86% of responses by individuals to the merger were opposed. Liberal Democrat councillors led the opposition throughout, listening to the views of their local communities, and chose to put their electors' well-being first by voting agains the merger.