‘Government announcement on changes to local councils is great news for local residents and businesses’ says County Council Leader
The County Council welcomed today’s announcement from government that it is ‘minded’ to implement, subject to Parliamentary approval and further discussions, the locally-led proposal to replace the existing five councils across Buckinghamshire with a single council for the area.
County Council Leader Martin Tett said: “It’s really positive news that the government is minded to support our proposals for a single unitary council. The new council will simplify the current local government setup, save many millions of pounds to plough back into frontline services and enable services to be provided for residents at a truly local level.
“We know there is widespread support for these proposals and we will continue talking with residents and a wide range of organisations across the county to ensure the new council benefits from their input and expertise as things develop.
I’d encourage as many people as possible to let the government know their views. Together we can make a single unitary council happen, which will not only improve residents’ lives now, but crucially will create a Buckinghamshire that is fit and thriving for the future.”
The new single unitary council would provide services at a very local level for residents, who would be able to access services via a network of community hubs in locations across the county. The formation of community boards across Buckinghamshire would put real decision-making power in the hands of local people, empowering them to meet the differing needs of local communities.
Services which complement one another but are currently divided between the district and County councils such as bin collections, waste disposal, planning and roads, would be brought together under the single unitary council, resulting in more efficient, joined-up services for residents.
Martin reiterated that the County Council is committed to working closely with the district councils and other partners to ensure a smooth transition to the new unitary council: “There is consensus amongst all our local councils about the need for change, and that our current two-tier system requires modernisation. Now is the time to work together and put any differences to one side to ensure that we can give our residents a far simpler system by offering better value and more joined-up services.
“Let’s grasp this once-in-a-lifetime chance to tell the government that a single unitary council is the best route for Buckinghamshire. A single unitary means we can join up and redesign services, focusing on the needs of residents, combining best practice from across our existing councils, to design public services that are fit for our future generations.”
You can contact the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to give your views by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the County Council’s business case for a single unitary council, visit www.futurebucks.co.uk
Text of the written statement from Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government):
My Rt Hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (Sajid Javid) has today made the following Written Ministerial Satement.
I am today announcing how I am minded to proceed in response to the locally-led proposals that I have received for improving local government in Buckinghamshire. Currently in the administrative county of Buckinghamshire, there is a two-tier structure of Buckinghamshire County Council and the district councils of Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, High Wycombe, and South Bucks.
There is broad local consent for change in Buckinghamshire, though there have been two alternative approaches for how precisely it should be configured. In September 2016 and January 2017, I received locally-led proposals for replacing the current structure, in one case with a single new unitary council and in the other case with two new unitary councils – one for the area of Aylesbury Vale and the other for the remainder of the current county area.
Having carefully considered all the material and representations I have received, I am minded to implement, subject to Parliamentary approval and further discussions, the locally-led proposal to replace the existing five councils across Buckinghamshire with a single council for the area.
I am satisfied that this new single council, if established, is likely to improve local government and service delivery in the county, generating savings, increasing financial resilience, facilitating a more strategic and holistic approach to planning and housing challenges, and sustaining good local services. I am also satisfied that across Buckinghamshire as a whole there is a good deal of local support for this new council, and that the area of the council represents a credible geography.
Whereas, I am equally satisfied that establishing two councils for the current county area is unlikely to improve local government in the area, generate significant savings, or provide the capacity to sustain major services or to address planning and housing challenges. I believe the areas of the two councils would not represent a credible geography or clear local identity, and that there is significantly less local support for two councils than for a single council. Accordingly, I am not minded to proceed with the proposal for establishing two councils.
Notwithstanding, I am clear that in relation to establishing a single council further steps are needed to secure local consent amongst the local partners, and I hope this ‘minded to’ announcement will facilitate the necessary discussions to deliver this local agreement.
Before I take my final decision, there is now a period until 25 May 2018 during which those interested may make further representations to me, including that if a proposal is implemented it is with suggested modifications. The final decision would also be subject to Parliamentary approval.