DON’T GET STUCK IN OUTDATED TRADITION
I have read recent articles and letters in local newspapers with some degree of dismay, primarily because of the failure of most of the authors to look at solutions through a 21st century lens.
As far as local government is concerned, county boundaries date back many centuries and pre-date canals, railways and modern roads so in most cases have little relevance to current day economic, transport and demographic factors.
Buckinghamshire is a prime example with the south east of the county bordering London and having three stations on the London Underground yet the north west of the county is around 50 miles away in a very rural location.
Milton Keynes wisely went its own way as a unitary authority in 1997 and if we look at the remaining area covered by Buckinghamshire County Council and the four district councils, it is in ballpark figures a tale of two halves namely Aylesbury Vale covering just over half of the area but with only 35 per cent of the population and the southern part (Chiltern, Wycombe and South Buckinghamshire) containing 65 per cent of the population. It is time for change in my view. Buckinghamshire is no longer an option for local government in any form although I don’t mind such remaining purely for ceremonial reasons.
Aylesbury as the County Town is as redundant today as was Buckingham which it usurped around two hundred years ago, ironically because of the latter’s remoteness.
We also have our main hospital and A&E department in the wrong place; not where the bulk of the county’s population resides yet Wycombe Hospital continues to be downgraded.
As far as the future of local government is concerned any notion of a unitary authority for Buckinghamshire is outdated and will serve only those politicians and local government officials who like the idea of empire building and locating the centre of activity in Aylesbury. Instead, the residents and leaders of Chiltern, South Buckinghamshire and Wycombe Councils ought to be looking at how best services can be delivered for the populous south, including working in collaboration with adjoining councils with similar needs, such as Three Rivers and Windsor & Maidenhead and not be hidebound by historic boundaries.
As far as hospitals are concerned, we desperately need to build a new fully fledged hospital in the south of the county.
Stoke Mandeville is no location for our main hospital given our demographics.
People in Gerrards Cross for example, are some 22 miles from Stoke Mandeville, further than it is to the Houses of Parliament.
For such a vital and much needed facility I am sure most people would accept the need for local planners to permit building on green belt land if necessary.
It is time to start thinking imaginatively and not be led by those stuck in outdated and misplaced tradition.