Two council leaders have angrily denounced calls from Tory MPs for the merger of their councils.
Shropshire Council leader Malcom Pate (Con) (pictured) and Telford & Wrekin BC leader Shaun Davies (Lab) both insisted their councils would remain separate.
Leaders attack Tory MPs over merger call
The row began when former environment secretary Owen Paterson, MP for North Shropshire, wrote to communities secretary Sajid Javid just before Christmas to say: “Major savings could be made by merging Telford & Wrekin with Shropshire into one council for the whole county”.
He told Mr Javid: “I would be most grateful if you would consider commissioning a cost benefit analysis of the current delivery of local government services to the whole of Shropshire and the savings that could be achieved for Shropshire taxpayers if a merger was made of the two unitary councils.”
This was backed by Daniel Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, in a parliamentary question to Mr Javid.
The idea was though was firmly rejected by local government minister Marcus Jones, who said any merger was a matter for the two councils.
“It is for the Shropshire Council and Telford & Wrekin Council to decide whether they wish to merge into a single unitary council to improve the local governance of the area and make it more sustainable,” he said.
Cllr Pate said: “There are no plans whatsoever to take over Telford & Wrekin Council.
“I hope we can work together to work for the benefit of us both. I have to say since we have spoken to them their willingness to work on joint services has been greatly advanced.”
Cllr Davies said: “This issue has been regularly aired and is firmly rejected by both councils, precisely because we represent very different areas.
“Telford & Wrekin has a principally urban population, while Shropshire has a much more rural focus over a very large area.
“Unsurprisingly both have very different priorities reflecting the respective differences and needs of their residents.”