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Aylesbury MP: Councils Should Work Together On Future

David Lidington says he's sad the County and Districts have been doing their own thing when it comes to the unitary debate

Published by the Mix96 News Team at 6:06am 17th October 2016. (Updated at 8:17am 17th October 2016) 4-minute read.

Aylesbury MP: Councils Should Work Together On Future

Buckinghamshire's councils should be working together to work out how to change, not doing their own thing.

That's according to Aylesbury's MP, who says what matters now in the unitary debate is what works best for people living here.

David Lidington says he's now getting involved:

"I'm going to be talking to local government ministers, like the new Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, and I want to find out from him what are the ground rules.

"Are there any other criteria that both the county and district councils need to be aware of, as they refine their proposals further?"

He told us it's a shame that, so far, the councils haven't managed to work together:

"But that's, in a sense, spilt milk now. We are where we are.

"To my mind, there are three key principles.

"First is value for money, second is what's going to be the formation of councils that provides the best quality of service and third, local identity."

So, what is happening?

Chris and Dan try to explain:

What have the councils got to say?

Buckinghamshire County Council's leader Martin Tett, told us that both reports state that just one council for Buckinghamshire would save taxpayers the greatest amount of money, and that the five council leaders are meeting next month to talk about this.

He said:

"I welcome the districts' report which acknowledges that the status quo is not a viable long-term option.

"Both the County's and the Districts' reports state that a single council for Buckinghamshire would save taxpayers the greatest amount of money, but I also believe an entirely new Buckinghamshire Council would enhance local decision making, while having just one authority would make things so much simpler for our residents. 

Martin Tett

"However, I respect the fact that there are other options which the districts favour. That is why from the start of this process I have encouraged our district colleagues to join us so that together we can make local government in Bucks work better for our residents, businesses and partners.

"Therefore I'm pleased that the leaders of the five councils will be meeting later this month to identify where consensus can be achieved.

"I would encourage the district councils to submit their business case as soon as possible so that government is able to make a decision on the way forward for Buckinghamshire - a long period of uncertainty is not in the best interests of our residents."

The District Councils said in a joint statement:

The four district councils commissioned Deloitte to undertake an independent review to find the best option for the future of local government, to serve the population of Buckinghamshire.

We were approached by Bucks County Council to join with them in preparing a business case for a single unitary council for Bucks, but after careful consideration we declined this offer and agreed to commission a totally independent review which would consider all options.

The public sector faces the twin challenges of increasing demand and reducing funding, so whilst we are open-minded about the options for the structure of local government, we need solutions which will withstand the test of time and provide a solid foundation for future challenges.

We welcome the report as a vital addition to the debate we need to have, and look forward to discussing the issues and options with Cllr Tett.

More on the unitary debate in the Related Articles section

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