R4U opposes Conservative proposals to centralise local government and remove Uttlesford decision making

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) strongly opposes proposals to abolish councils across Essex and replace them with 2-4 new larger authorities.

R4U’s Cllr John Lodge, who is Leader of Uttlesford District Council, said “We were elected to give residents a stronger say. That means we firmly oppose ANY local government changes that prevent residents deciding local matters for themselves.”

John Lodge (R4U) John Lodge (R4U)

“These proposals are the biggest local government changes since 1972. In Essex the 14 District, Borough and City councils would be abolished, as would Essex County Council; and instead all would be replaced with 2 to 4 much larger ‘super authorities’. The whole lot would then, in effect, form a ‘council of councils’ that would be presided over by a Conservative Mayor, who would hold the purse strings. The Tories have been losing control of local councils all over the country and this is clearly an anti-devolution ploy to centralise power and seize control.”

“We agree that reform of ECC is well overdue – it just isn’t working for us. Uttlesford residents pay more than £40million a year to them – 75% of our council taxes – but we get much less back. County councillors are invisible and unaccountable, and ECC service delivery is poor. All they seem to want to do is cut our libraries, slash our public transport, and avoid investing in our roads and schools. Their recent laughable ‘nominate your favourite pothole’ campaign and more serious school bus safety debacles just highlight this fact for residents.”

“But closing down Uttlesford District Council and moving it to Harlow or Chelmsford doesn’t fix ECC. It is a sleight of hand. What residents need are better services, a fairer financial settlement, and a county council that works for us all. Instead they are trying to shift decision-making and power towards Westminster, reduce local democracy, accountability and services, and it will cost Uttlesford residents more.”

“We will be bringing forward our own plan to create real devolution that restructures ECC and brings local decision-making home. We have already signed up with 8 other councils in Essex, all with different political leadership and make-up, to oppose the proposals.”

About Residents for Uttlesford

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) is the local independent party of north-west Essex towns and villages. Formed in 2014 by a number of residents’ groups, the party believes that on local issues residents should decide, not Westminster parties.

R4U leads Uttlesford District Council (UDC). It is the fastest growing local political movement in its district. In its first election in 2015 it became the second party at UDC. In 2017 it solidified its position with a further by-election gain with 60% of the vote. In the May 2019 Local Elections R4U gained majority control of UDC winning two-thirds of the seats. The result delivered the biggest loss of seats by any UK Conservative controlled council in the UK.

R4U’s success has been based on the desire to give local people a voice and implement long range strategic and sustainable plans for their area.

R4U also leads Saffron Walden Town Council, where under its stewardship the council has rebuilt finances, invested in community assets, and won multiple awards, including the best run council in Essex. It is a minority party on Great Dunmow Town Council.

Residents for Uttlesford can be found on the web at www.residents4u.org.