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