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Ex-leader: £7m waste deal could lead to council merger
A NEW £7million deal between two councils for rubbish collections may be the first step towards a radical merger, a former leader believes.
Last week details were revealed of the contract between Chiltern and Wycombe District Councils, showing a £1.2m saving per year for taxpayers and aims of substantially increased recycling rates.
Independents at WDC have long been calling for Buckinghamshire's major councils to be combined to save huge amounts of cash.
Senior Tory Cllr Roger Colomb told a public meeting the waste deal could pave the way to something close to that – but by a step by step process rather than an instant merger.
Cllr Colomb told Cllr Alan Turner, a leading campaigner for a council merger: “We're amalgamating our efforts with another council (on the waste contract) which I suggest to you is a stealth way for moving towards your vision of beauty which is a unitary council.
“So I think really that is the way forward. We'll see amalgamating service in all sorts of areas over the next few years, not lets do a study on Unitary Authorities, we all know what it costs to put one way in like that. Gradually it will come through an osmosis process.”
An official report in 2006 stated that rolling together the five existing district councils and Buckinghamshire County Council into one could have saved an estimated £35m a year.
However, opponents have insisted that the initial scrapping and start up costs are too high with a lack of cash available right now. The Government has stated unitary authorities are not on their agenda in this Parliament.
Last year the BFP also reported on a report previously unseen publicly, which found a plan to cut top bosses at three district councils - Wycombe, South Bucks and Chiltern – could have saved Wycombe taxpayers £1.1m per year.
Cllr Turner said: “We're looking down the end of the gun barrel from Central Government with future cuts to come.
“Some where along the line we are going to run out of things to cut.
“It does scream out for one thing, a very simple way forward, which could potentially save us – a unitary authority.
“This council will have to make this into action at some point in the future because there will be no where else to cut or make saving.”
He said the state of the roads in Milton Keynes and Slough – which have unitary councils – were far better than in Wycombe and Bucks generally.
The new waste deal begins this week.
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