- Cotswold split could undermine policing of the county
- Commissioner seeking talks with Cotswold Leader Lyndon Stowe
- Why is West Oxfordshire a more attractive proposition than Gloucestershire?
- Chief Constable asked to consider effects of Cotswolds breakaway
Proposals to split the Cotswolds from the rest of Gloucestershire could have major repercussions on how the county is policed.
The implications of combining Cotswold and West Oxfordshire district councils into a unitary authority are yet to be worked out, but the ramifications for the Gloucestershire Constabulary could be significant and seriously undermine the county’s hopes of becoming self-governing.
Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl is to hold talks with Cotswold District Council leader, Lynden Stowe, to discuss how such a merger might affect policing and community safety.
Mr. Surl said:
“I’m aware the two authorities already share some services, but I would like to learn more about what Cotswold finds more attractive in joining with West Oxfordshire than is being offered within Gloucestershire.
“The current structure could be improved, no doubt, but I hope we can work together to find the best possible arrangement for the people who live in our county, while staying united.”
Although the debate on ‘Coxit’ is in the early stages, Mr Surl is asking the chief constable to set out the implications for policing should the county become split.
“Early indications are that these are significant and I have no doubt from an operational perspective it would be unwelcome. I have, therefore, also asked my chief executive to clearly set out the legal position.
“Gloucestershire in its current shape and size is the optimum to deliver services to its residents. I understand how attractive the county must be to other councils and police forces, but they must understand that whilst we will form meaningful and productive partnerships with them and be excellent neighbours, friends and allies, we have no appetite to be run by them.
“Sadly, much of the work undertaken by the county in preparation for a devolution bid may have now been holed below the water line, but some may survive. Ours was the only bid to include community safety, and agreement has been reached to continue that work despite the current political spat.”
Mr Surl, who as Police and Crime Commissioner holds the only public office that has been elected in all of Gloucestershire’s six districts will also be speaking to Anthony Stansfield, his counterpart at the Thames Valley force which polices Oxfordshire, to see if he can shed any more light on the proposal.