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Buckinghamshire County Council leader says new Unitary Council will ‘unlock local democracy’

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Buckinghamshire County Council has met with town and parish councils to talk about the plans for a single Unitary Council in Buckinghamshire.

The meetings included how a single Unitary Council will improve local democracy and give town and parish councils a real opportunity to shape a more local council for the future.

Members of the Buckinghamshire Milton Keynes Association of Local Councils met with members and seniors officers on Wednesday 28th November 2018. During the meeting a key part of the discussion focused on the proposals in the County Council’s business case for a more local single unitary council.

The County Council’s business case commits that the new council would provide services at a very local level for residents, through improving local access to services via a network of community hubs in locations across the county.

It also aims to put real decision making power in the hands of local councillors, empowering them to meet the differing needs of local communities, and increase opportunities for devolution of services to town and parish councils who want it. Therefore the development of a strong locality offer must be be an integral part of the new council, complementing the strategic role the new authority will have as it replaces the five existing councils.

Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, Martin Tett, who updated attendees at the meeting and outlined the key elements of the business case for a more local council, said: ‘This is an exciting time of change for Buckinghamshire. Unitary cannot be about creating a remote, centralised new council.

We have a once in a lifetime chance to unlock local democracy, giving more power and decision making to ambitious town and parish councils who want it.

It’s important to me that, alongside a seamless transition and continuity of services for residents, we deliver on the commitments we made in our business case which the minister has now approved. This includes increasing real decision making at a local level, and improving opportunities for those town and parish councils who want to deliver enhanced local services.

This is not a one size fits all approach and involving town and parish councils is essential to the future success of a more local council; the importance of which is echoed by the Secretary of State himself in his ministerial statement.

I fundamentally believe that developing a strong locality offer sits right alongside the strategic development of the new council for the benefit of our local communities.

Carole Burslem, County Officer of Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Association of Local Councils said: ‘We welcome the opportunity to work closely with the new single unitary council to ensure the voices and views of our parish and town councils are heard and taken into account in shaping the future of the new Council.

Further details on the proposals for a single Unitary Council can be found at www.futurebucks.co.uk.

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