Sin­gle coun­cil ‘saves £20m a year’

Scores of staff could be made re­dun­dant if five Bucks au­thor­i­ties merge into one

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Jo-Anne Rowney jo-anne.rowney@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

THE county could save £20m a year by merg­ing its five coun­cils into one, a re­port has said.

B u c k i n g h a ms h i r e ’s business com­mu­nity crowd­funded the £25,000 needed to pro­duce an in­de­pen­dent re­search pa­per look­ing at the cost of lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

The re­search, which was com­mis­sioned by the group, Buck­ing­hamshire Business First and con­ducted by Ernst & Young, con­cluded that an­nual sav­ings of £20.7m could be made, as well as a po­ten­tial five-year net sav­ing of more than £58m.

The re­search cen­tred on four pos­si­ble al­ter­na­tives to the cur­rent sys­tem, in­clud­ing stream­lin­ing into two coun­cils.

The op­tion the re­port ar­gues de­liv­ers the big­gest sav­ing is that of one uni­tary au­thor­ity cov­er­ing Buck­ing­hamshire.

It ac­knowl­edges there would be up­front costs, the big­gest be­ing the cost of re­dun­dancy, but ar­gues th­ese would be re­paid after one-and-ahalf years, with a five year cu­mu­la­tive sav­ing of more than £58m.

Be­tween 153 and 172 staff would lose their jobs.

The four dis­trict coun­cil lead­ers have said the re­port does not take into ac­count sav­ings achieved this year.

It added the coali­tion gov­ern­ment has no ‘ap­petite’ for struc­tural change in lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

In a joint state­ment they said: “We are open to con­sid­er­ing new ways of work­ing, in­clud­ing look­ing at any uni­tary mod­els, which would have to be in the best in­ter­ests of our coun­cil tax­pay­ers.”

They added this would be bet­ter ex­plored in May after the gen­eral elec­tion.

Guy Lach­lan,

owner of hard­ware business Jones & Cocks and spokesman for the Bucks Business Group, said: “There is a grow­ing de­sire from busi­nesses and res­i­dents in Buck­ing­hamshire to get in­volved in decision mak­ing that af­fects where they live and work. The fact that the business com­mu­nity con­trib­uted £25,000 to fi­nance the re­search shows the strength of feel­ing on this.

“This re­port does not look to pre­de­ter­mine a so­lu­tion, but rather to in­form the de­bate.”

He added: “The pub­li­ca­tion of this in­de­pen­dent re­search pa­per has re­in­forced what the business com­mu­nity has been say­ing for a num­ber of years.

“Our lo­cal au­thor­i­ties need to look to ra­tio­nalise their or­gan­i­sa­tions and make the best use of tax­pay­ers’ money for the ben­e­fit of busi­nesses and res­i­dents alike.

“This is­sue can no longer be swept un­der the car­pet and needs to be given se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion by lo­cal politi­cians, es­pe­cially in an elec­tion year.”

For more on the re­port visit www.get­bucks.co.uk.

What do you think? Email buck­snews@ trin­i­tysouth.co.uk or tweet @Get_Bucks.

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