Pushing together for more powers
Bucks joins three-county alliance campaigning for more devolution
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.”