County chief hits back at district coun­cils in uni­tary de­bate

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

THE leader of the county coun­cil has hit back at district chiefs who last week claimed “biggest is not always best”, as the uni­tary de­bate con­tin­ues.

The lead­ers of Chiltern, South Bucks and Wy­combe district coun­cils have urged the pub­lic to back plans for two uni­tary au­thor­i­ties in Bucks.

How­ever, leader of Bucks County Coun­cil Mar­tin Tett has in­sisted just one “su­per author­ity” will pro­vide “the great­est pos­si­ble level” of sav­ings.

He added that the sec­re­tary of state for hous­ing, com­mu­ni­ties and lo­cal gov­ern­ment, Sa­jid Javid, said two coun­cils for the north and south of the county are un­likely to “sus­tain ma­jor ser­vices”.

Cllr Tett said: “We are very clear that ‘ one size’ does not ‘fit all’. Right across Buck­ing­hamshire the dif­fer­ent lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties all have dif­fer­ing needs. It is not ‘north ver­sus south’.

“Mar­low is dif­fer­ent from Wy­combe, Wy- combe from Che­sham, Che­sham from Wen­dover and Wen­dover from Buck­ing­ham.

“That’s why the new sin­gle coun­cil will have lo­cal ser­vices tai­lored to the needs and wishes of each com­mu­nity, via a net­work of com­mu­nity cen­tres which are fully costed into the busi­ness case for the new coun­cil.

“The cru­cial part of this is that the new coun­cil will work in close col­lab­o­ra­tion with lo­cal part­ners and com­mu­ni­ties to code­sign these new, very lo­cal ser­vices, so peo­ple will have the op­por­tu­nity to shape ser­vices for their own area.”

The district lead­ers sub­mit­ted a pro­posal to the gov­ern­ment last year for two uni­tary au­thor­i­ties in the county to ri­val BCC’s plans to scrap all four district coun­cils and re­place them with one “su­per author­ity”.

Last month the gov­ern­ment backed plans for a sin­gle uni­tary author­ity and the pub­lic now have un­til the end of May to share their views on the pro­pos­als.

The leader re­minded Bucks res­i­dents that a sin­gle uni­tary author­ity would not be a “county coun­cil takeover” as the new author­ity would “draw upon the very best from the her­itage of current district and county coun­cils”.

He added: “Ad­di­tion­ally, lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties will have more say in de­ci­sions on their lo­cal area and will have a stronger voice for the lo­cal is­sues that mat­ter to them.

“There will also be op­por­tu­ni­ties for more ser­vices to be put under more lo­cal control, if that’s what the com­mu­nity de­cides. This is a proven model with ev­i­dence of where this is working very suc­cess­fully in other uni­tary county ar­eas such as Wilt­shire, Shrop­shire and Durham”.

To have your say on the pro­pos­als, email sa­jid. javid@com­mu­ni­ties.gsi. by May 25.

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