Government to abolish Buckinghamshire councils

The Government has announced it is to abolish the county and district councils in Buckinghamshire and replace them with a single authority.

In a statement given to Parliament yesterday, the housing and communities secretary James Brokenshire said the current two-tier structure in Bucks (Buckinghamshire County Council and the district councils of Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe) will be abolished and replaced by a single unitary authority.

Mr Brokenshire said the new authority will come into force on 1 April 2020 with the first elections to be held on 7 May 2020.

He added a survey, conducted by Opinion Research Services found that 75% of residents agreed with the principle of reorganisation in Buckinghamshire, and overall 87% of the representations made to him supported change.

“Both proposals made it clear that retaining the status quo is not an option,” the housing secretary added.

The leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, Cllr Martin Tett, said it was a ‘truly historic day’ for the county.

‘The announcement paves the way for a brand new council, fit for the future, created by combining the best of both county and district councils,’ said Cllr Tett.

‘This new council will be simpler, better value and more local to our residents. It will also have more clout to face head-on the great strategic challenges facing the county over the coming decades.

‘There has been robust debate over the last couple of years over how best to modernise Buckinghamshire’s out-dated two-tier system. Everyone has agreed that a change to a unitary form of governance is the only way forward.’

The director of the County Councils Network, Simon Edwards, added: ‘Today’s announcement by the Secretary of State is a bold decision, but one made with a clear and persuasive evidence-base put forward by Buckinghamshire County Council, supported by the County Councils Network (CCN). It is the right decision for Buckinghamshire, particularly given that every council agreed that the status-quo was not an option.

‘Reorganisation is not something all counties wish to pursue but where it is, independent research for CCN has shown there are significant financial, economic, and public service reform benefits for those willing to pursue restructuring at scale.

‘With all councils in the county to be abolished, it is important that everyone comes together and works collaboratively in the transition to unitary status. It is the local community that stands to benefit the most, and making the new council a success will mean drawing on all the talents from both the county and district councils.’


Jamie Hailstone
Senior reporter - NewStart


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