LEADERS from across Gloucestershire have pleaded for the Cotswolds district not to join forces with a council in Oxfordshire.

Proposals to form a unitary authority linking together West Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds district councils were announced this morning.

Leadership Gloucestershire, which is made up of leaders and chief executives of councils in the county as well as the police and crime commissioner and representatives of the health service and the GFirst local enterprise partnership, released a statement following the news warning that a break-up of the county council would be ‘a step in the opposite direction’ as the county’s devolution bid progresses.

The statement reads: “The historic county of Gloucestershire has existed for 1,000 years and the Cotswolds is an integral part.

“Our residents and businesses have a strong affection for our fantastic county and are proud to live and work in Gloucestershire.

“Public services and outcomes for local people work best when boundaries align. Gloucestershire public services are already working together. 

“Our geography and structures already match. At the moment we have fantastic alignment of the county boundary with our seven councils, our health and social care services, our Constabulary and its police and crime commissioner, a single local enterprise partnership, all of which benefit Gloucestershire residents. 

“The aspiration of our devolution bid ‘We are Gloucestershire’ – which we continue to support - is to work ever closer on issues such as integration of health and social care services, children’s safeguarding, investing in our roads and promoting economic growth. 

“The possible loss of Cotswold District would be a step in the opposite direction. 

“We all remain committed to retaining Gloucestershire as the place that we live, work and do business, including the Cotswolds which is so much part of our historic county.”