FIVE TO ONE –WHAT ARE THE ODDS?

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - OPINION -

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.

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