A LEADING Torbay Tory has ruled out a merger between councils.
Kevin Foster, Conservative Parliamentary spokesman for Torbay, has responded to suggestions that Torbay could be 'taken over' and that councils should merge.
It has been reported that Torbay mayor Gordon Oliver had asked Devon County Council to 'take over' Torbay services. The mayor was not available for further comment.
Devon County Council leader John Hart said they had talked to Torbay last year about how to work together and are currently talking to Plymouth, Torbay, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall Police and Devon and Somerset Fire Service about how they can work more closely.
Mr Foster said no Torbay 'takeover' is being planned by Devon or is being asked for by the Bay's mayor. He said the key is for neighbours to work together, not spend taxpayer's cash merging forever.
As councils look to make savings, many are exploring sharing services to ensure as much money as possible is spent providing the key frontline services local people want, rather than on back office administration and support.
There are also plans for a City Deal which would see the Bay work closely with neighbours in Plymouth and across South Devon to access greater powers from the Government with a focus on a joined up approach to economic development, he said.
Mr Foster said the Conservative Party is making clear this debate is about local councils working together for the common good, not about starting another round of expensive and time-consuming local government reorganisation. It follows a statement from Torbay Liberal Democrats calling for further council mergers.
Mr Foster said: "It makes real sense for our local councils to work together in the interests of all our local residents, particularly when this comes to reducing costs or developing co-ordinated plans for economic growth.
Yet this should not be confused with the idea that one council may take over another or that a time-consuming, plus expensive, review of local government boundaries is likely to happen.
"No Torbay 'takeover' is being planned by Devon County Council or is being asked for by the Bay's mayor."