Share your views with Cambridge City Council about the current structure of local government

Cambridge City Council has launched a survey today (8 July) to ask whether the current structure of local government could be improved, and is encouraging local people to share their views between now and 3 September.

The council is asking:

  • do you support the current arrangements?
  • how well are they working?
  • do you think they can be improved?
  • should a unitary authority be considered (a single council responsible for the services currently provided by the city council and county council)?

The council is not putting forward any specific proposals for local government reorganisation. The intention is to start a conversation and canvass public opinion on current arrangements to see whether there is local interest in considering possible changes.

The feedback received will help to determine whether any changes to the current arrangements should be further explored. If so, the council would need to work with local partner authorities and central government to develop proposals which would go through a separate formal consultation process.

Take part

In October 2023 Cambridge City councillors voted unanimously in support of a motion which recognised that Cambridge has some of the most complex local government arrangements in the country and called for a discussion about whether the current arrangements are the most appropriate form of governance for Cambridge.

Currently Cambridge is served by two tiers of local government – Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council. Each provides different services over different geographies, although there are some overlapping responsibilities.

In addition, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority is responsible for co-ordinating some strategic functions such as transport; and the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) is a joint committee established by Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council to deliver the 2014 Greater Cambridge City Deal.

Cllr Mike Davey, Leader of Cambridge City Council, said: “We often hear that the local government landscape can be confusing and frustrating for people who don’t know which authority to approach about which services.

“Similarly, some people are concerned that the complexity of the local government landscape means that accountability is more challenging, as is strategic decision making, particularly where this spans district boundaries. We want to facilitate discussion, and to capture people’s thoughts about whether there are changes that could be made to improve the way local government works.

“We don’t have a particular outcome in mind, and I don’t believe there are any easy answers. It’s worth remembering that councils across the country are facing substantial financial pressures, making difficult decisions about saving money while continuing to deliver essential services, regardless of whether they are in two tier structures or unitary councils.

“The most important thing is that we hear what local people think about this so we can determine whether there is any appetite for change. If there is, we could then talk to local partner authorities and central government, before developing specific options for local people to feed back on. Please let us know what you think before 3 September, or come along to one of our public events to find out more.”