Open debate on change needed
Unitary authority could save money
A BUSINESS leader has called for more discussion on whether Bucks should have a unitary authority saying there is an appetite for change.
Earlier this year, the group Buckinghamshire Business First commissioned a report which said the county could save £58m if it became a unitary authority. The group crowd-funded the £25,000 needed to produce the independent research paper looking at the cost of local government.
Now, following its annual general meeting, Bucks Business First managing director Philippa Batting said there is now an ‘appetite for change’. She said: “The report has been widely circulated and is on our website.
“We know the local authorities including county have read it now. We have seen the column inches taken up by letters of those engaging with it too.
“There’s a real appetite now for some forum for the public to debate. I think most authorities are in agreement something needs to be done that change is needed.”
The research conducted by Ernst & Young, concluded that annual savings of £20.7m could be made, as well as a potential five year net saving of over £58m. The research centred on four possible alternatives to the current system, including streamlining into two councils.
The option the report argues delivers the largest saving is that of one unitary authority covering Buckinghamshire.
Ms Batting added: “I think if we can now open this to public debate where we see both sides of the argument it would help.
“Though at the moment I am yet to find anyone who wants it to stay the same. What we would say is discussions about this need to be in the open not behind closed doors.”
The report claims £6.9m could be saved from a more efficient service operation, £3m from cutting 30 senior managers, £2.1m in election savings with 168 fewer members, up to £1m from accommodation savings.
Chairman of the BuckinghamshireBusiness Group Guy Lachlan said previously: “He said: “It’s a case of getting rid of confusion.”