Buckinghamshire residents encouraged to give views on future structure of local government in the County
Residents in Buckinghamshire are being encouraged to give their views on the future structure of local government in the County.
The government is considering proposals to put the services currently split between the county and the four district councils under the control of one, Buckinghamshire-wide unitary council, or two unitary councils covering the north and the south of the county, based on district boundaries.
Buckinghamshire County Council is providing opportunities for local people, businesses and other organisations to have their say through a short engagement questionnaire, a telephone survey and a series of face to face group discussions. The resulting feedback will be provided to the government to help them consider the future of local council services in the county.
Chief Executive of Buckinghamshire County Council, Rachael Shimmin, said: ‘Last year we talked with a wide cross-section of local people and organisations including businesses, parish and town councils and residents, about local government reform in Buckinghamshire. Their views and feedback were invaluable to us in producing our business case for a single unitary council which we submitted to government in September. Since then, the district councils have submitted proposals to government for two separate unitary councils for the county, meaning that there are now two different options for reform on the table.
It’s really important to us to understand in more detail how people want local government to work in the county. It is vital that the services that residents value, such as those for vulnerable children and adults, roads, libraries and schools, continue to receive investment. A new, single council for Buckinghamshire would save taxpayers at least £18m year on year by cutting bureaucracy and improving economies of scale. This is money that could be invested in improving frontline services, such as our roads and transport system, our schools and social services. The new council would be much closer to residents, who would be able to access local services via Community Hubs in 19 locations throughout Bucks, while Community Boards would put real decision-making power in the hands of local people.
We know there is widespread support for these proposals and we will continue engaging with a wide range of people and organisations across the county to ensure we benefit from their input and expertise as things develop.
The views of residents are crucial, so I would encourage everyone to take a few minutes to visit http://futurebucks.co.uk/yourviews/ to respond via the engagement questionnaire and tell us what you think.‘
People’s opinions are confidential and responses to the engagement will be analysed and reported by ORS, an independent social research company. For the County Council, ORS is also carrying out a telephone survey and a series of face to face group discussions with businesses, residents, representatives from local voluntary and community organisations and town and parish councils.
To take part and respond to the engagement questionnaire, go to http://futurebucks.co.uk/yourviews/. Paper copies will also be available from the County Council’s main libraries shortly.
For more info on Buckinghamshire County Council’s business case for a single unitary council visit www.futurebucks.co.uk.