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Districts' legal challenge to Bucks reorganisation process fails

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A bid by three district councils to secure a judicial review on how the government is handling the process of creating a single unitary council in Buckinghamshire has failed.

South Buckinghamshire, Chiltern and Wycombe DCs were informed on Tuesday that their application, prompted by concerns over the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government’s planned structure of the new council, had been rejected.

Responding to the ruling, South Buckinghamshire said in a statement: “This is obviously a disappointment and something that we will be taking legal advice on in the first instance.

“However, it remains our sole intention to do everything we can to ensure the new Buckinghamshire Council is something we can all be proud of and will be the very best for all our residents.”

The three councils and Aylesbury Vale DC, which did not join the legal challenge, had refused to consent to the regulations for the reorganisation.

The main dispute concerned the government’s designation of Buckinghamshire CC leader Martin Tett (Con) as chair of the shadow executive, handing the county a majority on a body with eight of its members and eight from districts.

The districts wanted the chair elected by the 236-strong shadow authority, which comprises all current councillors.

Responding to the latest development, Cllr Tett said: “We’re pleased that the courts have decided not to proceed any further with the legal challenge from Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe District Councils in relation to how the new council for Buckinghamshire will be created – this could have been at a huge cost to our taxpayers.

“We are all agreed that a brand new council for Buckinghamshire, building on the best of the current councils, is a good thing for our residents, communities and the future of our county. I’m looking forward to getting together with the leaders and shadow executive nominees from across all the councils to focus on how we bring the five into one to make the best council for Buckinghamshire. With just over 12 months to go until the new council is due to open, there is a huge amount of work for us to do together.”

There was also previously a row over whether the new unitary should have 98 or 147 members.

Housing and communities secretary James Brokenshire earlier this year agreed to the districts’ demand for 147, making the new council considerably larger than Birmingham City Council, which has only 101.

The regulations order for reorganisation in Buckinghamshire was approved by Paliament and came into force on 22 February.

This article was amended as the original version suggested the regulation order for reorganisation in Buckinghamshire had not been approved.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Far too many councillors to be sensible. Cornwall struggled with 123 before a sensible reduction to 80-something.

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  • it will need a small number of key members on the executive and an area committee structure to manage things locally, you could call the local bodies District Councils.....oh sorry see what I have done here

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