The Councils consider that if one new Council is created, we can save up to £0.5 million a year. This will not be through cuts to services, but through the new Council costing less to operate; the new Council will need fewer Council and Committee meetings and there will be no need for each Council to make separate decisions; there will be one budget and one set of financial systems. The cost of forming a single Council is estimated to be £325,000 which includes project management, consultation on the proposal, remodelling of the Council finances and creating a new website and identity for the new Council.
The proposal would mean that Council Tax for residents in South Hams would need to increase to the same level as West Devon residents pay. South Hams Council Tax is currently £62.97 less a year than West Devon for those living in Band D housing (see Council Tax Implications for a list of all council tax bands). This difference would be addressed over a number of years and is explored in more detail on the Council Tax Implications page.
The proposal would also see a reduction in the number of district Councillors representing the new Council area. While we do not have exact figures, we estimate that the new Council would have about 48 Councillors, 28 in South Hams and 20 in West Devon (subject to a Boundary Commission Review). Currently each Council has 31 Councillors (62 in total).
Both Councils have agreed to consult on the proposal and seek the views of the public, businesses and other organisations we work with before considering whether or not to submit a proposal to the Department of Communities and Local Government. If the view is that the proposal should be submitted, the ultimate decision on whether the new Council can be formed rests with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
Should the proposal be implemented, one new Council would be the largest District Council in Devon from April 2020, represented by 4 MPs, 11 County Councillors and in the region of 48 District Councillors.