MP supports study into unitary authority

Bucks Free Press: MP supports study into unitary authority MP supports study into unitary authority

MP DOMINIC Grieve says he is fully behind an influential business group’s study into the possible benefits of abolishing layers of local government to form unitary authorities.

Speaking at the Marlow Business Breakfast last week, Mr Grieve voiced his support for the sharing of services in the county.

It comes after business interest group Bucks Business First launched a crowdfunding initiative to look into the pros and cons of forming unitary authorities to replace the current three-tier system of local government.

Chairman Alex Pratt announced the group’s plans for an “evidence-based” study into the options surrounding any possible mergers.

Mr Grieve said: “I was interested about Alex’s comments on local government re-organisation. On a personal basis, I entirely agree about this.

“There are massive duplications within local government, but we are already seeing some of that being addressed South Bucks District Council have effectively twinned up with Chiltern for its backroom functions and a single chief executive.

“I’m very much in favour of encouraging that sort of joint working to try to minimise cost. We have to do that if we are to maintain decent public services.”

The current system comprises Buckinghamshire County Council, with four district councils (Wycombe, South Bucks, Chiltern and Aylesbury Vale) beneath it and also number of town and parish councils.

A unitary system would see county and district councils merge – although there are several possible ways such a move could take place.

Some speculate the move which some speculate could save as much as £25 million per year of public money.

Tim Graham, chairman of Marlow’s Chamber of Commerce, said he is in favour of a merger, believing it would remove one of the communities community’s “biggest headaches”.

And BBF, which is dedicated to improving the conditions for businesses in the county, says if such savings may be possible then "doing nothing is not an option".

BBF is now looking to raise £25,000 to commission a study by Ernst and Young into the pros and cons of such a merger.

However, Mr Pratt insisted he is “not wedded to any one outcome” and simply feels that someone must step in to establish the facts.

He said: “Normally what happens to change things is something disruptive comes along and in this case it is the business community just providing a bhit of energy to allow everybodyto decide if now is the time to look at it rather than ignore it.

“WDC set up a group to look at it but i think everybody would benfit from a good look at the evidence, what would work, what wouldn’t, what the impact would be.How can you come to a conclusion without the evidence?

“We’d like to test the waters to see the extent people would like to see change, and not leave it to smoke-filled rooms full of councillors.”

A unitary structure could see the number of councillors in the county plummet from 248 to somewhere between 90 and 120, with further savings at backroom and management level.

In 2007 the council took a vote on unitary council status but instead pursued a 'Pathfinder' shared services initiative which proved unsuccessful and was scrapped after a £1m investment.

The issue has been hotly debated for years, with some councillors calling for a unitary authority to be established while others say the costs to do so have been too prohibitive.

BBF hopes to complete the study by the end of the summer.

Comments (4)

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11:57am Fri 20 Jun 14

mistamina says...

Careful Dom. it is a bit RADICAL!
Careful Dom. it is a bit RADICAL! mistamina
  • Score: 2

1:11pm Fri 20 Jun 14

Darren Hayday says...

Well done Mr Grieve. When all is said and done about MP's and Cllrs of these times when we have an all time low trust of the political elite class, Dominic is one of those that has principles, scruples and a sharp intelligence. There are many other MP's unfortunately across the political spectrum that have none of these qualities and who look out only for self interest, power and greed.

Of course it makes perfect sense to look into a study and I’m sure that the finding (if they get enough funds to get started) would show clearly that there are many financial savings to be made with getting rid of all the layers of local government.

Parish/Town/District
/County/Town Committee – who on earth knows the difference between them all??

I’ve been in the system for over 10 years and even I struggle to keep up with who is responsible for what service, etc

The only reason that things stay the same is that key players within the local Conservative parties want to keep hold of their power. Its time for people power including local businesses to say, enough is enough – we want a strong business case and carry out careful research into saving money and looking into the idea of a Unitary Council to slim down the massive army of Cllrs in the County. There are far too many and unfortunately there are a number of them that do not work very hard for their local communities.
Well done Mr Grieve. When all is said and done about MP's and Cllrs of these times when we have an all time low trust of the political elite class, Dominic is one of those that has principles, scruples and a sharp intelligence. There are many other MP's unfortunately across the political spectrum that have none of these qualities and who look out only for self interest, power and greed. Of course it makes perfect sense to look into a study and I’m sure that the finding (if they get enough funds to get started) would show clearly that there are many financial savings to be made with getting rid of all the layers of local government. Parish/Town/District /County/Town Committee – who on earth knows the difference between them all?? I’ve been in the system for over 10 years and even I struggle to keep up with who is responsible for what service, etc The only reason that things stay the same is that key players within the local Conservative parties want to keep hold of their power. Its time for people power including local businesses to say, enough is enough – we want a strong business case and carry out careful research into saving money and looking into the idea of a Unitary Council to slim down the massive army of Cllrs in the County. There are far too many and unfortunately there are a number of them that do not work very hard for their local communities. Darren Hayday
  • Score: 0

12:08am Sat 21 Jun 14

valleyviewboy says...

Berkshire CC fought the government over its survival yet was ultimately abolished- the same needs to happen in Bucks. The best formation to me seems to be the creation of unitary authorities based on the current borders of Aylesbury Vale and Wycombe, with a merger of Chilten and South Bucks, alongside Milton Keynes, forming four Buckinghamshire UAs with strong cultural and historical links but far fewer political dependencies. A town of 70,000 governing a town of 120,000 is a situation not necessary in the 21st century!
Berkshire CC fought the government over its survival yet was ultimately abolished- the same needs to happen in Bucks. The best formation to me seems to be the creation of unitary authorities based on the current borders of Aylesbury Vale and Wycombe, with a merger of Chilten and South Bucks, alongside Milton Keynes, forming four Buckinghamshire UAs with strong cultural and historical links but far fewer political dependencies. A town of 70,000 governing a town of 120,000 is a situation not necessary in the 21st century! valleyviewboy
  • Score: 0

9:31am Sat 21 Jun 14

Darren Hayday says...

valleyviewboy wrote:
Berkshire CC fought the government over its survival yet was ultimately abolished- the same needs to happen in Bucks. The best formation to me seems to be the creation of unitary authorities based on the current borders of Aylesbury Vale and Wycombe, with a merger of Chilten and South Bucks, alongside Milton Keynes, forming four Buckinghamshire UAs with strong cultural and historical links but far fewer political dependencies. A town of 70,000 governing a town of 120,000 is a situation not necessary in the 21st century!
I agree. The only reason that BCC and the district Councils fought the last Government and things stayed as they were was because they took the option of 'pathfinder' which they know was a waste of time and money and when it finally got off the ground it lasted for 5 mins till it stopped working. It was the local conservatives that want to keep power of the districts and who are behind the formation of a Unitary Council. I think more so in Wycombe and Aylesbury under the current leaderships I'm assuming that this is also the case with Chiltern and South Bucks but my eyes do not travel that far south of the County (yet!). How do I know these things? Because I was in the Tory group meetings at the time when it was discussed.
[quote][p][bold]valleyviewboy[/bold] wrote: Berkshire CC fought the government over its survival yet was ultimately abolished- the same needs to happen in Bucks. The best formation to me seems to be the creation of unitary authorities based on the current borders of Aylesbury Vale and Wycombe, with a merger of Chilten and South Bucks, alongside Milton Keynes, forming four Buckinghamshire UAs with strong cultural and historical links but far fewer political dependencies. A town of 70,000 governing a town of 120,000 is a situation not necessary in the 21st century![/p][/quote]I agree. The only reason that BCC and the district Councils fought the last Government and things stayed as they were was because they took the option of 'pathfinder' which they know was a waste of time and money and when it finally got off the ground it lasted for 5 mins till it stopped working. It was the local conservatives that want to keep power of the districts and who are behind the formation of a Unitary Council. I think more so in Wycombe and Aylesbury under the current leaderships I'm assuming that this is also the case with Chiltern and South Bucks but my eyes do not travel that far south of the County (yet!). How do I know these things? Because I was in the Tory group meetings at the time when it was discussed. Darren Hayday
  • Score: 0

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