FIVE TO ONE –WHAT ARE THE ODDS?
ALEX PRATT OBE, JP
Bucks Business First Chairman
BACK in 2014 headlines suggested that by reducing the number of councils in the county from five to one or two unitary authorities, Buckinghamshire residents could save somewhere between £5million and £25million per annum for front line services.
Buckinghamshire Business First crowd-funded a strategic assessment of the pros and cons of establishing an alternative structure for local government in Buckinghamshire.
It took just two months to raise the estimated £25,000 needed from the public for the report.
Business leaders in Bucks recognise the critical importance of civic leadership in this constitutional debate.
This is not about knocking hard working councillors or staff in current local authorities; it’s about undertaking a sensible independent review of a system which has remained unchanged for the last 40 plus years.
During the same period we have seen the arrival of cell phones, DNA testing, and the internet, not to mention a global financial crisis, passing Hong Kong over to the Chinese, and years of austerity. No change, is not an option. This county deserves all the good government we can afford.
The current system is too costly, too slow and too bureaucratic and makes Bucks less competitive than other places.
The clock is ticking, local authority reserves are running dry in the face of unprecedented funding challenges, and an urgent review of local government structures is required.
How about a binding independent commission, perhaps chaired by a local MP, to decide on an appropriate and rapid process for taking this long term strategic decision which is now long overdue?
Any process should not inflate the influence of interested parties.
We look forward to an invitation to join the debate.
After all, we did start it.