Green light for unitary council in Buckinghamshire

Local Government Secretary James Brokenshire has confirmed that a brand new county-wide unitary council will be established in Buckinghamshire.

The new council, which will replace the county council and four districts, will be simpler, better value and more local to Buckinghamshire communities than the current two-tier system, ultimately moving to a more sustainable future for the county. Council leader Martin Tett hailed the decision as a ‘truly historic day’.

Under the plans, services which complement one another but are currently divided between the district and county councils, such as bin collections, waste disposal, planning and roads, will be brought together under the single unitary council, resulting in more efficient, joined-up services for residents.

Tett said: “This is a truly historic day for Buckinghamshire. 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. 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. Now a decision has been made it is the time to put the past behind us and work together, to build the better future Buckinghamshire’s residents deserve. There are a number of issues we will need to agree with government, and I look forward to giving you further details as these become known over the coming weeks.”

Simon Edwards, director of the County Councils Network, said: “In this unprecedented period of financial pressures facing local authorities, Buckinghamshire’s ambitious plans will allow them to better adapt to the significant challenges facing councils, as well as ensuring that frontline services are protected, with a strong platform for promoting growth and wider public service reform.
“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. CCN will actively support all stakeholders during this period, drawing on the experience of our existing unitary member councils.”

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