On 12 March, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government announced that he is “minded” to go ahead with the proposal that there should be a unitary authority for Buckinghamshire.
This would bring about a significant change to the structure of local government here. The present system of the county council and district councils – Aylesbury Vale, our own Chiltern, High Wycombe and South Bucks – would be merged. Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, the Secretary of State, said that he does not agree with the idea that there could be two unitary authorities, with one covering the Aylesbury Vale area and the other made up of the three remaining district council areas.
Town and parish councils would remain as they are at present and of course these bodies are going to be part of further discussions and consultations.
With plans to build 150,000 houses in Aylesbury Vale and with Milton Keynes planned to double in size if the “Arc of Innovation” (as I call it) is constructed between Oxford and Cambridge, people must consider whether one or two authorities might best serve residents in Buckinghamshire. Buckinghamshire has historically been underfunded and, as part of the f40 local authority group’s efforts, I and my Parliamentary colleagues in the county have sought to get more money invested in Buckinghamshire.
Sajid Javid has said that a unitary authority “is likely to improve local government and service delivery” in Buckinghamshire, bringing about savings and financial resilience, with a “more strategic and holistic” approach to planning and housing, whilst sustaining our good services or it may be that you consider the other option to be the best for our area.
There is a period now until 25 May 2018 during which the Secretary of State has asked interested parties to send their views directly through to him. Therefore, I hope that everyone with a view on this important issue will take part. The email address is : firstname.lastname@example.org