Hiba Mahamadi 12 March 2018

Javid backs single unitary council in Buckinghamshire

Local government secretary Sajid Javid has backed a single unitary council for Buckinghamshire.

In a written ministerial statement, Mr Javid said he had rejected a competing proposal from the districts for two unitary councils.

Buckinghamshire CC had submitted a one-council proposal whereas the districts - Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe - submitted a joint proposal for two unitary authorities based on a north/south split.

Mr Javid said his decision to go with the single unitary proposal was based on local support but also because the two proposed councils would not have a ‘credible identity’.

He said: ‘I am 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 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.’

Mr Javid encouraged partners to come together to discuss future plans.

Buckinghamshire leader Martin Tett said: '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.

'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.'

'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.

'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.'

But chairman of the District Councils' Network, Cllr John Fuller, said: 'This minded to decision would appear inconsistent with the principles adopted by the secretary of state in relation to the unitary proposals in Dorset, where there was broad agreement and substantial consensus for the new proposals from district, county and unitary authorities, which will result in two new unitary authorities of equal size.'

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