Central Bedfordshire is a new unitary authority which will be created from the merger of Mid Bedfordshire and South Bedfordshire district councils, and that part of Bedfordshire County Council in which the two districts are geographically situated. The new council will be formally established on the 1st April 2009.
Since 1974, Bedfordshire
has been governed as a shire county
, mostly under the control of Bedfordshire County Council
. This is divided into three local government districts, Bedford Borough
, Mid Bedfordshire, and South Bedfordshire.
Additionally, Luton Borough became a unitary authority in 1997. It forms part of the ceremonial county for various functions such as Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff, but does not come under county council control.
In 2006 the Department for Communities and Local Government considered reorganising Bedfordshire's administrative structure as part of the 2009 structural changes to local government in England. The four proposals considered were:
- Proposal 1, To abolish the three districts within the county to create a Bedfordshire unitary authority. (Luton would remain a separate unitary authority.)
- Proposal 2, To create two unitary authorities: one based on the existing Bedford Borough, and the other, to be known as Central Bedfordshire, a combination of Mid Bedfordshire and South Bedfordshire Districts. (Luton would remain a separate unitary authority.)
- Proposal 3, To create two unitary authorities: one a combination of Bedford Borough and Mid Bedfordshire District, and one a combination of Luton Borough and South Bedfordshire District.
- Proposal 4, To form an "enhanced two-tier" authority, with the four local councils under the control of the county council, but with different responsibilities.
On the 6th March 2008 the DCLG decided to implement Proposal 2. This means that from 1 April 2009 there will be three unitary authorities in Bedfordshire - Bedford, Luton and the new Central Bedfordshire. Bedfordshire County Council initially challenged this decision in the High Court, but on the 4th April 2008 it was announced the Judicial Review in the High Court had been unsuccessful, and the County Council declared they would not be appealing the decision.
Shadow Council and Cabinet
A shadow council
for Central Bedfordshire has been formed from all the members of Mid Bedfordshire and South Bedfordshire councils, as well as all Bedfordshire County Council members from the Central Bedfordshire area. The inaugural meeting of the shadow council was held on the 10th of April 2008. A shadow cabinet
for the council has also been formed consisting of 4 members of each council. The shadow Cabinet (and council) is currently led by Tricia Turner (current leader of Mid Bedfordshire District).
Towns and villages
The Central Bedfordshire area will include the following towns and villages currently located in Mid and South Bedfordshire -