Push­ing to­gether for more pow­ers

Bucks joins three-county al­liance cam­paign­ing for more de­vo­lu­tion

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - by Jack Abell jack.abell@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

AN MP has ad­vised cau­tion after three county coun­cils joined forces to re­quest more power is de­volved to them from cen­tral Gov­ern­ment.

Bucks County Coun­cil last week joined forces with Ox­ford­shire and Northamp­ton­shire county coun­cils to launch an ap­peal to the Gov­ern­ment for the au­thor­i­ties to be given more pow­ers which are de­signed to boost eco­nomic growth.

If suc­cess­ful, the tri-county al­liance would be given per­mis­sion to:

Al­low joint new plans to be de­vel­oped for trans­port and other in­fra­struc­ture

Be given new pow­ers over bus ser­vices and the abil­ity to fur­ther im­prove pub­lic trans­port be­tween towns and ci­ties in the three coun­ties

En­sure more eco­nomic ben­e­fits are gained for the area from projects such as East West rail, to link East Anglia with the south and other ar­eas.

How­ever, Ch­eryl Gil­lan, MP for Che­sham and Amer­sham is re­serv­ing judge­ment, say­ing: “We don’t want Buck­ing­hamshire to lose out in any way. It could be very pos­i­tive, but be­fore any­thing is de­cided we need to find out ex­actly what the ben­e­fits will be for this county.”

County coun­cil lead­ers launched the of­fer at an event at Sil­ver­stone on Tues­day, De­cem­ber 16, and are now hop­ing to meet with the Gov­ern­ment to dis­cuss the plans fur­ther.

Martin Tett, leader of Bucks County Coun­cil said: “Ru­ral non-city lo­ca­tions can punch with huge eco­nomic im­pact, so it’s ab­so­lutely right that we com­bine our voice lo­cally so we can com­pete with other city ar­eas.”

Tax­pay­ers’ Al­liance chief ex­ec­u­tive Jonathan Is­aby said: “De­volv­ing spend­ing power to lo­cal au­thor­i­ties has been shown to pro­duce more ef­fi­cient spend­ing, but it has to come with ac­count­abil­ity and that means tax pow­ers too.

“Sim­ply ask­ing for more spend­ing pow­ers is just ask­ing to be­come glo­ri­fied grant-givers.”

Dis­trict coun­cils also backed the move. South Bucks, Chiltern and Wy­combe dis­trict coun­cils last week warned against Ayles­bury Vale Dis­trict Coun­cil merg­ing with the county coun­cil to cre­ate a uni­tary au­thor­ity, and said the tri-county plan is an ex­am­ple of what can hap­pen when au­thor­i­ties work to­gether as sep­a­rate en­ti­ties.

A state­ment from the three dis­trict coun­cil lead­ers said: “We have long be­lieved that is­sues of eco­nomic pros­per­ity and trans­port need to be han­dled on a cross-county ba­sis.”

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