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Decision made: Bucks to have one council

The government have announced their decision on the future of local government here.

Published by Dan Gooding at 6:49pm 1st November 2018. (Updated at 3:45pm 2nd November 2018) 5-minute read.

Decision made: Bucks to have one council

After years of debating and waiting, we finally have a decision on the future of councils in Buckinghamshire.

The Government have announced that we will have one authority looking after the whole of the county.

That means we will no longer have a county council and four district councils, but one organisation looking after everything from children's services to bins to parks.

  • One authority will replace four district & one county council
  • Local elections next year could be delayed
  • New authority could be in place in April 2020
  • District councils 'disappointed' by Govt. decision
  • BCC leader hails this as 'historic day'

What next? 

Buckinghamshire Unitary - AVDC & BCC
We won't seem uch of this logo in future

Secretary of State James Brokenshire made the announcement in a written statement this evening.

In it, he said:

I have concluded that whilst both proposals meet the criterion for a “good deal of local support”, only the proposal for a single unitary council satisfies the criteria for “improving local government” and for “being a credible geography” and that in any event the proposal for a single unitary council is better able to meet the criteria overall.

He goes on to say there are some details which will need to be ironed out, in terms of councillor numbers, etc.

There will also be work to do on what will happen with various departments across the current five authorities.

If all goes to plan, the Secretary of State says, we will have a new Buckinghamshire council in April 2020.

We are due to have local elections for our district councils next year, so these may be delayed.

More coverage of the Bucks Unitary story

The current councils react

The District councils have argued for two authorities, one in the north and one in the south, and say they are disappointed.

Leader of AVDC, Angela Macpherson:

The Districts released this joint statement:

We are disappointed that the Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, has announced today that he is supporting a new single unitary district council that will cover the whole of Buckinghamshire, excluding Milton Keynes.

The Secretary of State has previously stated there was a need to ensure broad consensus and we do not believe this has been achieved with the new single unitary district proposal.

All four district councils, as well as many key stakeholders, firmly believe that the two unitary authority approach, based on the two different economic geographies in Buckinghamshire, is the best option for protecting, delivering and transforming the services needed both now and in the future. 

We will now be considering our position, seeking further advice and reviewing the options available to us.

Meanwhile, Bucks County Council argued for the option the government has gone for.

Leader Martin Tett said:

 “This is a truly historic day for Buckinghamshire. The announcement paves the way for a brand new council, fit for the future, created by combining the best of both county and district councils. This new council will be simpler, better value and more local to our residents. It will also have more clout to face head-on the great strategic challenges facing the county over the coming decades.

“There has been robust debate over the last couple of years over how best to modernise Buckinghamshire’s out-dated two-tier system. Everyone has agreed that a change to a unitary form of governance is the only way forward.

“Now a decision has been made it is the time to put the past behind us and work together, to build the better future Buckinghamshire’s residents deserve.

"There are a number of issues we will need to agree with Government, and I look forward to giving you further details as these become known over the coming weeks.”

Aylesbury's MP gives his view:

Michael Garvey, Chairman of Buckinghamshire Business First, the Growth Hub for Buckinghamshire, has welcomed yesterday's announcement, saying:

"Buckinghamshire's business community wholeheartedly supports efficient local government and public services and today's decision will help ensure best use is made of taxpayers' money for the benefit of businesses and residents alike. Buckinghamshire Business First looks forward to working alongside all of our local authority partners in supporting a smooth transition to the new unitary arrangements.

"A report commissioned in 2014 by Buckinghamshire Business First suggested that over £20m a year could be saved by streamlining the county's five local authorities into one. The research, conducted by Ernst & Young, concluded that annual savings of £20.7m could be made, as well as a potential five year net saving of over £58m."

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