Cllr Bill Chapple: “Buckinghamshire should have made this change years ago”

The following letter appeared in the Bucks Herald, May 23 edition:

I’ve been a councillor for more than 40 years. During that time Buckinghamshire has undergone immense change, yet the way councils are organised has stayed the same. It is incredibly wasteful to have five county and district councils covering the same area – it means money which should be going on services is actually being spent on administration.

It looked like it was going to change in 1997, then in the late noughties, but for various reasons it didn’t happen.  Now we have another chance – one I fear we won’t get again for many years.

I’m a county, district and parish councillor, but for a long time I’ve believed the only credible way of changing the current system is through creating one new unitary council for the existing county area. It really is quite simple. One council frees up the most money, which can be reinvested in better services.

The alternative proposal for two unitary councils would split the majority of council services in half – things like transport, social care, and our excellent education system. This would actually create additional layers of administration where currently there is only one. It just doesn’t make sense.

Many of you are just concerned about bins being emptied, local planning being agreed by local councillors and your children being well educated. One unitary answers all that but also provides local offices near where you live, where you can talk to officers on a one to one basis. You will be just ten minutes away from sharing your problem and getting it solved.

The fact is Buckinghamshire should have made the change years ago, as many other authorities in other parts of the country have successfully done. I would urge you to show your support for one unitary council by emailing your views to james.brokenshire@communities.gsi.gov.uk by May 25.

Let’s make sure that 2018 doesn’t go down as another missed opportunity to make Buckinghamshire better.

Cllr Bill Chapple OBE

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