Canterbury, Dover, Shepway and Thanet councils will each meet on Wednesday 22 March to consider the next steps around the creation of a new single council in East Kent.
Meetings are being coordinated across the councils to consider the independent Business Case, which explored the advantages and disadvantages of a new single council, and to decide whether to progress to the next stage of public consultation.
If approved, an eight week consultation will launch to seek the views of local people on the future options for East Kent. This includes the option to replace the existing four councils with a new single council, which if formed, would be the largest of its kind in the country.
Feedback from the consultation would be considered by each council in July, before making any further decision. A new council would also be subject to the approval of the Secretary of State.
The Business Case was produced independently by Local Government experts Local Partnerships and stated that the move to merge was an ‘ambitious but logical next step’. Published on 25 January 2017, the case identified that substantial savings could be made, that it could lead to greater efficiencies and could provide a stronger regional voice.
As the Business Case is based on the four councils collaborating, approval will be required from all four councils on 22 March to progress to the next stage.
If one or more council votes not to proceed, a consultation would not take place and the councils will each take time to consider alternative future options.
Full details of the public consultation, including how to take part, will be published following the council meetings, should the councils decide to progress.