Coun­cil splashes out £20k in bid to ‘change gov­ern­ment’s mind’

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

COUN­CIL­LORS agreed to spend £20,000 on at­tempt­ing to “change the gov­ern­ment’s mind” over cre­at­ing a ‘su­per coun­cil’ in Buck­ing­hamshire, at an ex­tra­or­di­nary meet­ing of the coun­cil.

Mem­bers of South Bucks District Coun­cil (SBDC) met on Mon­day to dis­cuss the next steps after plans to scrap the four district coun­cils and cre­ate one ‘su­per author­ity’ were backed by the gov­ern­ment last month.

The coun­cil agreed to spend the thou­sands of pounds on mak­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tions to send to Sec­re­tary of State for Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Sa­jid Javid, de­tail­ing their views on the de­ci­sion.

It was also de­cided that ac­tion should be taken to “pro­tect the best in­ter­ests” of South Bucks res­i­dents re­gard­ing the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to back plans, in­clud­ing seek­ing le­gal ad­vice, lodg­ing a le­gal chal­lenge and com­mu­ni­ca­tion cam­paigns.

A sim­i­lar meet­ing was due to be held yes­ter­day (Wed­nes­day) to dis­cuss whether a fur­ther £20,000 will be al­lo­cated to Chiltern District Coun­cil for the same rea­sons.

How­ever, some mem­bers ques­tioned ex­actly what the money was go­ing to be spent on, while coun­cil­lor Jac­quetta Lowen-Cooper ar­gued that the gov­ern­ment has “al­ready made its mind up”.

The Con­ser­va­tive coun­cil­lor for Bea­cons­field South called for the £20,000 to be spent on mak­ing “mod­i­fi­ca­tions” to the sin­gle-uni­tary pro­posal, rather than “chang­ing the gov­ern­ment’s mind”.

She said: “I would like to see us working as a group putting to­gether mod­i­fi­ca­tions we can put for­ward.

“[Sa­jid Javid] is not go- ing to change his mind. If we can come up with a list of ways and sug­ges­tions for mod­i­fi­ca­tions I think we would spend our money bet­ter.

“Then I would be pre­pared to sup­port a bud­get to change mod­i­fi­ca­tions, but not to get him to change his mind.”

Cllr Ray Sang­ster added that BCC is “run­ning rings” around SBDC in terms of “get­ting their message across” to res­i­dents, while the district coun­cil is mak­ing “lit­tle progress”.

How­ever, Ger­rards Cross coun­cil­lor Bar­bara Gibbs said the aim is to en­cour­age the peo­ple of South Bucks to voice their opin­ions whether they “sup­port one uni­tary, two uni­tary or the sta­tus quo”.

She said: “We have to make our rep­re­sen­ta­tions, re­gard­less of whether you think the Sec­re­tary of State has made a de­ci­sion, so I think from the lo­cal democ­racy point of view we have to make sure that the peo­ple of South Bucks ac­tu­ally voice their opin­ions.

“I’m not say­ing they have to agree with two uni­tary, one uni­tary or the sta­tus quo, I am just say­ing it is very, very im­por­tant that they all have their say.”

Leader of SBDC Nick Nay­lor said meet­ings will be or­gan­ised for par­ish coun­cil­lors to share their views on the uni­tary dis­cus­sion and leaflets will be dis­trib­uted to res­i­dents with details on the pro­pos­als in due course.

He said: “The £20,000 is our con­tri­bu­tion to a broader fund and yes it will be spent on, amongst other things, rep­re­sen­ta­tions to our lo­cal peo­ple.

“There are a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent ac­tions that will be go­ing for­ward. This money is de­signed to sup­port that.”

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