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East Kent Councils merger

The Business Case for a new single council for East Kent

Background 

The district councils of Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Shepway and Thanet looked into the feasibility of establishing a new single council for East Kent.

This considered replacing the existing five district councils with a new single council, which if approved, would have been the largest of its kind in the country.

Councillors from all five authorities agreed in July 2016 to explore the advantages and disadvantages of a merger and to examine how a new single council could operate.

The purpose of a potential merger was set out in a 'Statement of Intent' agreed by all the councils.

As a result, work was completed on a 'Business Case' which the councils commissioned the Local Government Association and Local Partnerships to prepare.

Five becomes four

On the basis of the findings from a five way Business Case, Ashford Borough Council announced it would not be involved in the creation of a single council, but remained strongly committed to working closely with any future new council.

The councils of Canterbury, Dover, Shepway and Thanet then considered a four-way Business Case.

Council meetings 22 March - plans now on hold 

Meetings were held at Canterbury, Dover, Shepway and Thanet councils on Wednesday 22 March to consider the findings of the four way Business Case.

Councillors were asked to decide whether to progress to the next stage of public consultation, to ask local people for their views.

Dover and Thanet councils voted to progress, however Shepway District Council voted not to proceed.

Canterbury's Policy and Resources Committee voted to recommend to Full Council that consultation should go ahead, but just as the Full Council meeting started, news of Shepway's decision came through. As a result, Canterbury did not take a vote on consultation, but instead agreed to continue discussions to explore alternatives.

As approval was required from all four councils to progress, plans for a single council will now be put on hold.

The councils will now take time to consider the alternative options to identify a suitable way forward.

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