A county chief has urged district councils to not “spend hard-pressed taxpayer’s money” on PR campaigns to drive rival proposals for a major council shake-up in Buckinghamshire.

Leader of Bucks County Council (BCC) Martin Tett also asked district chiefs to join him in “making a pledge” to avoid “personality driven criticisms and name calling” as the ‘super council’ debate rumbles on.

However on the same day the leader made the plea, it was spotted that he ‘liked’ a tweet comparing South Bucks District Council to serial killer Harold Shipman – which he later apologised for.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Cllr Tett said: “I would like to invite district colleagues to make a pledge, along with myself, that over the remaining six weeks of this process for representations we undertake, first of all to avoid any personality driven criticisms.

“This should be about the issues, this should be about the evidence. This shouldn’t be about name calling or bad mouthing any named individuals on any side of the debate.

“There is an undercurrent of that already occurring, as you are probably aware”.

Relationships between the county and district councils appear to be growing more strained after district chiefs submitted a rival proposal for two-unitary authorities last year to rival BCC’s ‘super council’ plans.

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Last month Government backed the county council proposals to scrap all five councils in Bucks and create a single unitary authority, with a public consultation set until May 25.

Cllr Tett added: “Secondly I would urge them not to use hard-pressed taxpayers’ money to fund public relations consultants, marketing consultants, and those sort of external organisations - because taxpayers give us pounds to provide local services.

“And that is what we are here to do regardless of this debate. What taxpayers really want is their bins emptied, their roads repaired, good schools and low council tax.”

The request comes after South Bucks and Chiltern District councils agreed this week to spend a collective sum of up to £60,000 on making representations to Government during the public consultation – however Cllr Tett said he was not clear exactly what this money was going to be spent on.

District leaders Katrina Wood, Nick Naylor and Isobel Darby hit back, saying money spent on “raising awareness of this important issue is entirely justified”.

In a joint statement they said: “The current proposals will involve the biggest change in local government in Bucks for over 40 years and will affect the way that local services are provided for local people.

“We think it’s really important that residents, businesses, public service organisations, community groups, voluntary groups and charities in Bucks are aware of what these changes could mean to them and that they have an opportunity until 25 May to give their views to the Government.

“We think that costs incurred in raising awareness of this important issue are entirely justified.”