Subject to Parliamentary approval and further discussions the Government has announced that it is ‘minded’ to create a single unitary council for Buckinghamshire.
The announcement, made on Monday 12th March 2018, would see the current two-tier structure of local government replaced with a single council overseeing all services.
The proposal would mean the abolition of the existing five councils across Buckinghamshire. The councils affected are Wycombe District Council, South Bucks District Council, Chiltern District Council, Aylesbury Vale District Council and Buckinghamshire County Council.
In response to the announcement the leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, 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 set up, save many millions of pounds to plough back into front ine 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 Tett 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.‘
Residents can contact the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to give their views by emailing [email protected].
Further information on Buckinghamshire County Council’s business case for a single unitary council can be found at www.futurebucks.co.uk.
Before a final decision is taken on any changes there is now a period until Friday 25th May 2018 during which those interested may make further representations, including that if a proposal is implemented it is with suggested modifications. The final decision will also be subject to Parliamentary approval.