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Calls return for a High Wycombe town council

The move should be a 'top priority' according to one local councillor.

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Oliver Sirrell at 7:55am 27th June 2020. 3-minute read.

Calls return for a High Wycombe town council

Calls to create a High Wycombe Town Council have re-emerged following claims the area is suffering from a ‘democratic deficit’.

Labour councillor Muhammad Abdullah Hashmi, ward member for Totteridge and Bowerdean, accused Buckinghamshire Council of ‘kicking the issue into the long grass’ after the new authority delayed a decision on a new town council.

Speaking at Bucks Council’s communities and localism committee, he said:

“Wycombe is the largest unparished town not just in the whole of the county, but in the whole of the country.

“I think the time has come for the new Buckinghamshire Council to give serious consideration to give a voice to the residents of High Wycombe.

“I’m not sure why the council is afraid to set up a town council for High Wycombe when town councils are properly serving the people of their local areas in other parts of Buckinghamshire and indeed in the country.

“I urge you to put this matter as a top priority ensuring High Wycombe can have its own town council at the earliest opportunity and its first election in 2021.

“Not agreeing on a town council for High Wycombe means that it will continue to have a democratic deficit.”

Wycombe District Council offices
Wycombe District Council looked after the town, but merged to become Bucks Council in April

Plans for a High Wycombe Town Council were delayed by the former Wycombe District Council at the start of the year, whose councillors decided it was for Buckinghamshire Council to create any new authority following its inception on April 1.

Hundreds of residents signed a petition backing the move.

Currently, High Wycombe’s governance is partly overseen by the High Wycombe Town Committee at Buckinghamshire Council.

This committee advises the council’s bosses on issues affecting the town, but does not have any decision making powers.

Cllr Hashmi’s plea was directed to communities boss Cllr Gareth Williams at the committee meeting, but Conservative chairman Paul Irwin told him an officer would respond via email to what was a “quite a big question.”

But Cllr Julia Wassell, a Wycombe Independent, accused Cllr Irwin of ‘shutting down the conversation’.

Cllr Irwin responded asking officers if the issue could instead be addressed at the next meeting of the committee.

However, a Buckinghamshire Council officer said the issue of Wycombe’s community governance falls into the remit of the standards and general purposes committee, and is expected to feature on a future agenda of said committee.

The communities and localism committee met virtually on Thursday, June 18.

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