Basildon councillors are to be asked to give the green light to develop a business case backing a bid to make Basildon Council a unitary authority, independent of Essex County Council.

The proposal will be considered by Policy and Resources Committee at its meeting on Thursday 30 January.

A report before the committee says that the 1970s system of governance that Basildon Council is currently run under does not equip the council to meet the challenges it faces in the 2020s and beyond. It goes on to say: "As a unitary authority, Basildon Council would be able to take back control of key services, bringing them closer to the people they serve, prioritising for the benefit of the borough and making the most of the place shaping abilities."

Leader of Basildon Council Gavin Callaghan said: "Basildon borough is the biggest economy in Essex. Economically we are a city, but we don't have the powers of a city to control our own resources and make the most of the opportunities to improve the life chances of all our residents. If we are to truly wake this sleeping giant then we must have full control of our powers."

Last year Basildon Council held its biggest community conversation ever about what people think of their place and what should be done to improve it. As part of that people were asked who they thought provided a range of services and who they thought should provide them. This showed for example, that while 61% understood that county hall provided education services, 67% thought Basildon Council should provide them, 53% correctly identified roads as a county responsibility but 71% thought that should be Basildon Council, and while 63% already think Basildon Council provides street lighting (not surprising given we pay for them to be on through the night), 79% think we should.

"Our residents have told us that on every service they want local control," Councillor Callaghan said. "The people of Basildon are clear in their belief that the two-tier governance model is no longer working for this borough."

Published on Wednesday 29 January, 2020