Send your news, photos and videos by texting bucksfreepress to 80360 or email
Why is there no voice for High Wycombe?
12:00am Sunday 5th August 2012 in Comment
IT’S a matter of opinion whether or not Wycombe District Council should shell out taxpayers’ cash on saving the contaminated allotments in Bassetsbury Lane, High Wycombe – but this week’s Cabinet meeting brought another even more serious issue into sharp focus.
High Wycombe may be one of Bucks’ largest towns but it is also possibly unique in that it does not have its own town or parish council.
Beaconsfield, Marlow, Aylesbury, Risborough, Chesham and Amersham... you name it, they all have small hyper-local councils fighting for the rights of their residents. Even smallish villages such as Speen and Radnage have their own councils. But in High Wycombe, they simply have a town committee run under the auspices of Wycombe District Council.
Every time this issue has been raised, we’re told councillors are desperate to avoid duplication and extra costs. If that’s the case, why not scrap every parish council, save bundles of cash and be consistent? The reason this doesn’t happen is because there would be an outcry – these tiny councils are where true democracy can thrive because they are so parochial.
Compare them to Wycombe District Council which is an umbrella for Marlow, Risborough and lots of small areas, as well as High Wycombe. This week, WDC Leader Alex Collingwood and his Cabinet refused to fund a £20,000 survey for the allotments. Cllr Collingwood rounded on the town committee for not putting its money where its mouth is and failing to pay the fee. He pointedly then asked: “So why should the rest of the district fund it?”
Fair point, but the town committee is still an arm of WDC. Its chairman Tony Green is still a member of Cllr Collingwood’s Tory group, and so it is not truly independent, nor has it been voted in by the public so it has no mandate. High Wycombe councillors make up just over a third of WDC, so the town does not truly have an independent voice.
Compare this with Cllr Collingwood’s home area of Marlow which has Great Marlow Parish Council, Marlow Town Council and Little Marlow Parish Council.
The irony is we all know there are far too many councils in Bucks. And yet High Wycombe has none. It’s simply not fair.