State of the Unitary

What is a Unitary Authority?

 

 “A Unitary Authority (UA) is a local government structure which combines the functions of the two tiers of County and District/Borough Councils.
Medway became a UA following the decision to amalgamate Rochester Upon Medway and Gillingham Councils with the relevant part of Kent County Council.”
Cllr Vince Maple, leader of the Medway Labour group

 “Usually, you have two tiers of Local Government, the County Council which deals with strategic and major issues such as organising elections, working with schools and emergency services for example. They work parallel to the District Council, which is responsible for a much smaller area. So you would expect many district councils to operate in the same area as one county council. District Councils are responsible for issues such as housing, car parking and environmental health.

The concept of a unitary, is to for a specific area merge those powers under one authority. Therefore, in the case of Medway, all decisions be they working with emergency services or with social housing are taken by the one council.”
Cllr Mike O’Brien, Conservative councillor for Rainham Central

“Obvious answer is that it is a single tier of local government covering a specified geographic area to reduce costs, as opposed to wider areas which may comprise of district and county councils.
Medway does still have Parish Councils which some argue represent another tier of local government. I am generally supportive of Parish Councils as they tend to be made up of representatives from distinct villages who may be better placed to consider and address hyper-local matters, though at a cost in the form of a Parish precept.”
Cllr Chris Irvine, leader of the Medway UKIP group

“A top tier local governing body that administers an area but is separate to the local council”
Chris Sams, Liberal Democrat council candidate for Gillingham South Ward

“Unitary authorities of England are local authorities that are responsible for all local government services within a district.
So says Wikipedia anyway.”
Jacqui Berry, TUSC PPC Gillingham and Rainham

 

 Why isn’t Medway part of Kent?

 

“The majority of KCC administers rural areas and Medway being the largest urban area was not being represented so broke away possibly? But before my time!”
Chris Sams, Liberal Democrat council candidate for Gillingham South Ward

“Because it is a unitary authority. Seemples.
I’m not sure however that many people get the nuance and it is largely subjective as to whether someone in Medway considers themselves to be in Kent.
I think it’s nice to be both.”
Cllr Chris Irvine, leader of the Medway UKIP group

 “Medway is part of the historic county of Kent through basis of our geography and for many other services is recognised as such.
In local political terms it is distinct; Medway Unitary Authority was formed in 1998 when the City of Rochester-upon-Medway amalgamated with Gillingham Borough Council and part of Kent County Council to form Medway Council, a unitary authority independent of Kent County Council”
Cllr Tristan Osborne. Labour PPC for Chatham and Aylesford

 “It is in Kent, but it’s a bit big to be a borough of Kent County Council. Plus, with the dockyard it’s always been a bit separate.”
Jacqui Berry, TUSC PPC for Gillingham and Rainham

“The individual towns in Medway are classed as Kent as far as what ceremonial or geographical county they belong to. Therefore the Lord Lieutenant of Kent is responsible for the Medway towns as much as he would be Maidstone. The Medway Towns however are not under the prerogative of Kent County Council as they are a Unitary Council, though as you would expect there is much scope for joint working between the two.”
Cllr Mike O’Brien, Conservative councillor for Rainham Central

Why is Medway a unitary authority?

 

“Very good question.
Many in my ward of Peninsula feel no affinity whatsoever to Chatham, Rainham and Gillingham, and some are even calling for independence from Medway Council, particularly following the council’s decision to concrete over Lodge Hill.
Unitary authorities are, in my opinion, a reasonable proposal but we need a representative democracy on the council which we simply don’t have under the current Leader and Cabinet model which UKIP will scrap.”
Cllr Chris Irvine, leader of the Medway UKIP group

 “There is a massive population in one of the largest conurbations  in the south.
Makes sense it is self governed.”
Chris Sams, Liberal Democrat council candidate for Gillingham South

“At the time it was recognised by the government that Medway being a major urban centres has major strategic and political challenges best managed at a Medway-level. The Labour-led Borough Authorities at the time supported the move towards a single-layer of local government.
The creation of the UA led to the lowest Council Tax in England and a single layer of political representation and accountability.”
Cllr Tristan Osborne, Labour PPC for Chatham and Aylesford

“The formation of Medway Unitary Council goes back to 1998, when John Gummer as Environmental Secretary rolled out plans for Unitary Councils. Representatives of various councils met with Mr Gummer and it was felt that the towns would benefit from being a Unitary.”
Cllr Mike OBrien, Conservative councillor for Rainham Central

“I’ll be honest, I don’t know if anyone really cares.”
Jacqui Berry, TUSC PPC for Gillingham and Rainham

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