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Controversial changes will still go ahead, despite unitary decision

That's the message from Bucks County Council's leader, Martin Tett.

Published by Dan Gooding with contributions by Local Democracy Reporter Jasmine Rapson at 2:53pm 9th November 2018. 4-minute read.

Controversial changes will still go ahead, despite unitary decision

A week since we heard the decision to have one council for Buckinghamshire - what's been happening?

Well for the District Councils - who wanted a north/south split - they are still working out whether to challenge the decision or not.

In a joint statement the leaders said:

“We are currently considering our position, seeking further advice and reviewing the options available to us.

“Meetings with government ministers and civil servants are scheduled to take place in coming weeks.

“We’ll share further information and updates as those conversations evolve and decisions are made.

District Council leaders
The four district council leaders

“It is important to note that in his statement, the secretary of state talks about the creation of a ‘new single unitary district council’ which means that we will not be continuing with either the county council or the four district councils.

“This would give us the opportunity to collectively create a completely new authority with new structures, processes and a most importantly, a new culture.”

More coverage of the Bucks Unitary story 

Changes will still happen

Meanwhile, at the County Council, they've been talking about their big changes to tips, children's centres and home-to-school transport.

Cllr Tett said there are still “huge pressures” on local government budgets, so BCC will continue to save cash before the new council is launched in 2020.

He added changes desperately need to be made to the Early Help service – which provides early intervention support for families – as continuing with the current system “is not good for children”.

Cllr Tett said:

“[The consultations] relate to current planned changes to services or savings, all of which quite frankly need to happen.

“Just to take one of them – the early intervention. We need to change the way in which we tackle problems in terms of families that have particular social needs with young children, so we need to intervene earlier, we need to intervene better.

“Carrying on with the existing system actually isn’t good for those children.”

The new council will replace the county council and four district councils – Wycombe South Bucks, Chiltern and Aylesbury Vale.

Waste & Recycling Site - Tip
Changes to tips will still go ahead

Services which are currently divided between the district and county councils, such as bin collections, waste disposal and planning will be brought together under the unitary council.

Cllr Tett added:

“We need to keep making savings, it will be 18 months nearly before the new authority is up and running.

“We can’t just simply say ‘happy days are here again and everything is going to be okay.’ Pressure on local government funding is still there.

“I am absolutely convinced it will be brilliant for our county, it will be brilliant for our residents.

“For me the top thing is not so much the financial savings, it’s the way in which we bring together all the services.”

The leader said he has written to the district councils –who long opposed plans for a unitary authority – urging them to work together with BCC to launch the new council.

The district councils campaigned for two unitary authorities – one for the north and one for the south of the county.

Cllr Tett assured residents last week they would see “no immediate big change” in the way services are delivered.

One thing all five agree on, though - that the new set up will be better for all of us living here.

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