Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Bucks to bid for county unitary

  • Comment

Buckinghamshire CC has published plans to create a county unitary closely modelled on that in Wiltshire and is set to submit a bid to ministers in the autumn. .

The plans said abolishing the two-tier model with its four districts could save £18m a year and see powers and assets devolved to parishes and local committees.

The move follows a series of rows over reorganisation in the county, where Aylesbury Vale DC has also pursued a plan for unitary status.

County leader Martin Tett (Con) told LGC: “This is a very comprehensive exercise. We have had it peer reviewed and looked at examples of places that have done something similar, it draws very much on what Wiltshire has done.

“We had MORI poll the public and we have consulted the parish and town councils. People are keen that things should be simpler and cheaper. They talk about ‘the council’ and don’t make distinctions between the county and districts.”

Buckinghamshire has discussed the idea with Department for Communities and Local Government senior civil servants, though not yet with ministers, and following these talks has decided to proceed further with the idea, Cllr Tett said. A business case is expected to be formally approved next week for submisison to DCLG.

Under the county’s plan, the number of councillors would reduce from 238 to 98, saving an estimated £1.2m, and there would be 19 community hubs through which residents could access council services.

The projected savings include £3m from reducing senior management numbers, £4m from combined back-office functions and £3.6m from services efficiencies and. A further £48m could be raised by selling surplus council buildings.

Buckinghamshire estimated the unitary would have a £16.2m set-up cost, with savings building up to £18.2m a year by the third year.

Parishes that wished to could take ownership of assets such as allotments and leisure centres, and, as in Wiltshire local planning committees and groups of councillors in each area would take most decisions affecting their locality.

Cllr Tett said child and adult social care social services would be among few services that had to be centrally administered.

Buckinghamshire’s outgoing chief executive Chris Williams last March denounced the two-tier structure  as “archaic”.

But the unitary idea is liable to be fiercely contested by the districts, who have commissioned a report on reorganisation due this month from Deloitte. They refused to join a joint study with the county council.

A joint statement by the leaders of Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Buckinghamshire and Wycombe DCs said: “Our review has no pre-determined outcome and is looking at all possible options. It focuses on finding an option that will strengthen local decision making, improve local services, save taxpayers’ money and keep our customers at the centre of everything we do.”

A unitary proposal from business lobby Buckinghamshire Business First foundered on opposition from the districts in 2014.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.