Most residents are against district and borough councils being scrapped across Hertfordshire.

That is according to the results of a poll, which found the majoirty of people believe the creation of one large unitary authority in their place is the wrong move.

National polling company Survation carried out the poll with a minimum sample size of 200 people in each district or borough area in Hertfordshire.

It telephoned 2,030 people between September 22 and October 3 to get their views on proposals to create a single unitary council.

A totoal of 80 per cent of people believe their area would be better served by a local council than a county wide unitary, while four in five people said now is not the right time to make changes to the structure of local government.

Some 76 per cent of residents were concerned that their voice may not be heard by a county wide unitary.

At a Hertfordshire County Council meeting in July, Conservative council leader David Williams said the county has "strong foundations" to respond to the government's intention to "level up the country", which became "all the more pressing" because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Borehamwood Times:

Cllr David Williams

Cllr Williams said that there is a “cost, complexity and overlap in the current system”.

If Hertfordshire were to become a unitary authority, it would see all powers and responsibilities be combined into one 'super' council for the whole county.

It currently runs on a two-tier basis, with ten district and borough councils responsible for planning and parks as well as other services like refuse collections and leisure.

The county council is responsible for services including like roads, education, and social care.

When people were asked about services currently provided by district and borough councils, 75 per cent of residents across the county said these would be better delivered by their local council than a single unitary.

District and borough councils have expressed concerns at proposals to move to a unitary authority, saying that the middle of a pandemic is not the right time to change council structures and any future proposals should be developed collaboratively by all the councils, in consultation with local people.   

A joint statement of leaders of the district and borough councils in Hertfordshire said: “The Survation Poll is a very clear verdict on the County Unitary plans.  Our local residents are overwhelmingly opposed to a County Unitary and we agree with them that it is the wrong approach at the wrong time. The poll confirms the strong feedback we have been receiving locally that people do not believe that a single unitary authority for 1.2million people is right for Hertfordshire - our residents, our businesses and our towns and communities.

“COVID-19 has shown us that localised solutions are often the most effective, and the spirit of devolution is that democratic decisions affecting people’s lives should be made where they are most effective and have the greatest impact, rather than in potentially unwieldy and arbitrary ‘super councils’.

“Our view is, and particularly in a time of a global health crisis, to continue to work together through our established and respected Herts Growth Board, comprising all the districts and boroughs of Hertfordshire, along with the county council and the Local Enterprise Partnership, to move forward collectively in the interests of all our communities. 

“By listening to our people and continuing to support our communities through the COVID pandemic, we will achieve economic recovery and stability for our residents and businesses far quicker.”

A spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council said: "Hertfordshire County Council has not put forward any formal proposal to Central Government regarding Local Government Reform.

"Hertfordshire County Council, alongside the District and Borough Councils, is focussed on dealing with local outbreaks of COVID 19 and supporting Hertfordshire’s communities and residents."