In a surprise announcement, the councils of Surrey and Hampshire have revealed plans to merge into a new super-county named 'Hampshurrey'.
The move is expected to streamline services and create cost savings, but there are concerns about potential changes to local identity.
Civic chiefs were given the idea by the Boundary Commission for England's decision to create a new cross-county Farnham, Haslemere and Bordon constituency at the next General Election.
The move is part of a wider restructuring of parliamentary boundaries, and it appears to have inspired local authorities to consider similar changes.
The merger would create a single local government area for the two counties, with a combined population of more than three million people. The new super-county would be the largest local authority in the country and would have significant economic and political clout.
Supporters of the merger say it would bring significant benefits, including greater efficiency, reduced bureaucracy, and increased bargaining power with central government.
They argue that by pooling resources and expertise, the new super-county could deliver better services and tackle issues like housing, transport, and infrastructure more effectively.
However, opponents of the plan are concerned about the impact on local identity and autonomy. They worry that the merger could lead to the loss of unique cultural and historical features, and that local communities could become marginalised or overlooked.
Councillor Dr Alfie Loopyas, the leader of the Surrey County Council, said: "This is an exciting opportunity to create a stronger, more unified voice for Surrey and Hampshire. By working together, we can deliver better services and more efficient governance for our residents."
Councillor Ariadne Lofaspool, the leader of the Hampshire County Council, said: "We recognise that there are concerns about the potential impact of the merger, but we are committed to working with local communities to ensure that their voices are heard and their needs are met."
The proposed merger is still in the early stages, and there is likely to be significant debate and discussion before any formal decisions are made. However, the announcement marks a major step forward in the ongoing process of local government reform in England.