By Haddenham Webteam - 1st November 2018 8:00pm
A brand new county-wide unitary council will be established in Buckinghamshire, the Government confirmed today, Thursday 1st November.
The announcement by Secretary of State James Brokenshire was hailed as a 'truly historic day' by County Council leader Martin Tett.
The new council will replace the county council and four districts. It is argued that this arrangement will be simpler, better value and more local to Buckinghamshire communities than the current two-tier system.
Services which complement one another but are currently divided between the district and county councils such as bin collections, waste disposal, planning and roads, would be brought together under the single unitary council, resulting in more efficient, joined-up services for residents.
The Secretary of State said in his statement: "Having assessed both proposals against the criteria that we announced to the House on 28 February 2017 (PQ 65271), I have concluded that whilst both proposals meet the criterion for a "good deal of local support", only the proposal for a single unitary council satisfies the criteria for "improving local government" and for "being a credible geography" and that in any event the proposal for a single unitary council is better able to meet the criteria overall.
"Accordingly, I am today announcing that I have decided to implement, subject to Parliamentary approval, the locally-led proposal to replace the existing five councils across Buckinghamshire — the two tier structure of Buckinghamshire County Council and the district councils of Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe — by one new single unitary district council, and that I have decided not to implement the proposal for two new unitary councils."
View the Secretary of State's full statement can be viewed here:
County Council leader Martin Tett said: "This is a truly historic day for Buckinghamshire. The announcement paves the way for a brand new council, fit for the future, created by combining the best of both county and district councils. This new council will be simpler, better value and more local to our residents. It will also have more clout to face head-on the great strategic challenges facing the county over the coming decades."
"There has been robust debate over the last couple of years over how best to modernise Buckinghamshire's out-dated two-tier system. Everyone has agreed that a change to a unitary form of governance is the only way forward."
"Now a decision has been made it is the time to put the past behind us and work together, to build the better future Buckinghamshire's residents deserve."
"There are a number of issues we will need to agree with Government, and I look forward to giving you further details as these become known over the coming weeks."
BCC Leader Martin Tett has made a video presentation in relation to this announcement — see here
For more information on the business case for a single unitary council visit www.futurebucks.co.uk
Response from District Councils
In a statement from the district councils (Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe) the authorities did not rule out appealing the decision.
It read: "We are disappointed that the Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, has announced he is supporting a new single unitary district council that will cover the whole of Buckinghamshire, excluding Milton Keynes.
"The Secretary of State has previously stated there was a need to ensure broad consensus and we do not believe this has been achieved with the new single unitary district proposal.
"All four district councils, as well as many key stakeholders, firmly believe that the two unitary authority approach, based on the two different economic geographies in Buckinghamshire, is the best option for protecting, delivering and transforming the services needed both now and in the future.
"We will now be considering our position, seeking further advice and reviewing the options available to us."