Modernising local government in Bucks

Dianne Bennett-Rice

3rd May 2018

It’s set to be the biggest shake-up of local government in Buckinghamshire since the 1970s – and people have until May 25 to give their views to the Government.

The Government is ‘minded-to’ approve the creation of a brand new, single unitary council in Buckinghamshire, which would replace the existing five district and county councils.

In a statement the Secretary of State said: “I am satisfied that this new single council, if established, is likely to improve local government and service delivery in the county, generating savings, increasing financial resilience, facilitating a more strategic and holistic approach to planning and housing challenges, and sustaining good local services.”

An alternative proposal is to end Buckinghamshire and instead break it up into north and south unitary councils. The Secretary of State said this is ‘unlikely to improve local government in the area, generate significant savings, or provide the capacity to sustain major services or to address planning and housing challenges’.

The announcement was welcomed by Cllr Martin Tett, leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, who said: “A new single council for Buckinghamshire would easily save the most money - at least £18m per year, according to independently-verified calculations – by increasing economies of scale, being more efficient and cutting down on the numbers of senior managers. That’s a lot of money – it would pay for a new primary school or more than double what is currently spent on road resurfacing each and every year! These are real tangible benefits for local residents.

“Every part of Buckinghamshire is different and home to very distinct towns and villages. That’s why  I’m particularly proud about how the new council would offer a far more local service. This includes having community offices dotted around the county so that wherever people live, they are only within a few miles of a physical space where they can go in and talk about local services. We know that for many people – and particularly older residents – access to or using the internet can be problematic. They would much prefer to pick up the phone or meet face-to-face with someone locally – and under these plans, that’s what they’d get.

“One council would also put an end to the mind boggling complexity of ‘who does what and who should I talk to?’. Too often confusion over whether a service is provided by district or county means being passed from pillar to post or ‘hands washed’. In the future having departments such as housing and infrastructure under the same roof will lead to a far more-joined up and strategic approach to the issues facing residents. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help create a local government system for Buckinghamshire’s residents which will be simpler, far better value and closer to local people. I’d encourage as many people as possible to let the government know their views.” 

You can give your views by emailing the Secretary of State: james.brokenshire@communities.gsi.gov.uk

Alternatively you can use this quick and easy web form.

Take a look at www.futurebucks.co.uk to find out more about the new council for Buckinghamshire and follow us on Twitter @futurebucks1

12 March 2018

The Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, has today announced in parliament that he is “minded to" implement Buckinghamshire County Council’s proposal to replace the existing five councils in Bucks with a single, county-wide unitary.

While we are extremely disappointed, the “minded to” decision is not set in stone, and as the process allows, we will be making the strongest possible representations to the Secretary of State that this decision is not the right one. We don’t believe that this decision is in the best interest of our local residents, businesses, community groups, parish councils and various other stakeholders across the county and, based on our own engagement, we don’t believe it has strong local support.

Our two new unitary proposal, which can be seen at www.modernisingbucks.org, recognises key areas of difference for the communities in the north and the south, such as the economy, jobs, growth and housing markets. We believe a single large unitary will mean major opportunities will be missed in these areas and that a one size fits all model will not mean the best deal. We also question the savings the single unitary model claims to deliver. 

There is now a period until 25 May 2018 during which those interested may make further representations to the Secretary of State and we will be reflecting on today’s announcement carefully. Representations can be made by emailing sajid.javid@communities.gsi.gov.uk

The final decision will be subject to Parliamentary approval.

Cllr Katrina Wood, Leader Wycombe District Council
Cllr Isobel Darby, Leader Chiltern District Council
Cllr Nick Naylor, Leader South Bucks District Council
Cllr Neil Blake, Leader Aylesbury Vale District Council



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