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Bucks Councils 'Need Sorting Out' Says BCC Leader

They're the latest group to look at creating just one council for Bucks. Martin Tett has held off getting too involved in the unitary debate, but says they can't sit and do nothing anymore.

Published by the Mix96 News Team at 5:44am 9th May 2016. 3-minute read.

Bucks Councils 'Need Sorting Out' Says BCC Leader

Buckinghamshire's councils are too confusing and too expensive, according to the County Council leader this morning.

Martin Tett's holding a one-off meeting to look at BCC putting a case together for having one, new council for the whole of Bucks.

We've already heard that AVDC want to go it alone and run all services.

Martin told us what he wants to see:

"We're only going to pay for a business case for one option, which would be a new council based on the borders Buckinghamshire as a whole, excluding Milton Keynes.

"But we would invite district colleagues to come forward if they have options, so we can do this work together."

Today, BCC's cabinet will decide on whether to spend the money to look into the issue.

So what's the story so far?

  • The idea of a unitary authority has been looked at before
  • In 2007 the idea was scrapped when the Conservatives at the County Council withdrew their support
  • It all went a bit quiet then, because the new Coalition government weren't actively pushing for local government reforms
  • In 2014, Bucks Business First published a report, which looked at several options
  • One was to have one council, giving potential savings of £25m
  • Another was to split the county into two authorities
  • Councils didn't seem keen, saying the cost of making the changes would be too much
  • Then in April, AVDC published their own study which said they should go it alone
  • BCC Leader Martin Tett has remained relatively quiet on the issue, saying it would need more government support

AVDC Offices

What does unitary mean?

Unitary authorities are essentially the 'only' council for a particular area.

At the moment, Buckinghamshire has a three-teir system:

  • County Council
  • District Councils (Aylesbury Vale, Wycombe, Chiltern & South Bucks)
  • Parishes & Towns

Under the one council idea, we'd have a 'Buckinghamshire Council' and then parish and town councils, who are already taking on more responsibilities.

Milton Keynes went unitary in 1997.

What are the arguments?

The main reason for wanting to make the change is costs and an ever-shrinking budget.

Martin Tett said:

"How many chief execs do we need to run Buckinghamshire? How many senior management teams? How many councillors?

"I think in really tough financial times, when people are being asked to dig into their pockets for more council tax, we really have to show that local government can get its house in order."

But, as we said before, some have argued making the change - i.e. closing offices, rebranding - could cost too much.

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