The leader of Wycombe District Council (WDC) has been slammed for agreeing in private to take legal action over unitary plans - which could cost tens of thousands of pounds.

Last month Chiltern and South Bucks district councils held cabinet meetings in public where they agreed to legally challenge the government over the set-up of Bucks’ new unitary council.

A spokesman later confirmed WDC will be joining the districts in taking legal action, however due to time constraints, leader Katrina Wood, used her executive powers to make the decision herself.

Legal proceedings could cost each council up to £33,000.

East Wycombe Independent councillor for Totteridge, Julia Wassell, criticised the move, saying it is “highly irregular” for such a big decision “to be taken in private with no scrutiny”.

At the beginning of January, the four district councils, WDC, South Bucks, Chiltern and Aylebsury Vale, rejected final unitary plans during a series of extraordinary meetings.

Councillors criticised secretary of state James Brokenshire’s decision to appoint leader of Bucks County Council, Martin Tett, as the leader of the temporary shadow executive – which will be tasked with setting up the new council.

However, Labour councillor for Disraeli on WDC, Khalil Ahmed, added “it is not in the public interest” to spend thousands of pounds on taking the government to court over the decision.

He said: “Two wrongs do not make a right. Firstly, Martin Tett is imposed on us as leader of the shadow board through the executive powers of the secretary of state.

“Now, Katrina takes matters into her own hands by using her executive powers to push WDC to seek a judicial review against the decision.

“I do not believe that it is in the public interest to spend thousands of pounds taking this decision to court.

“We have a duty to act responsibly towards the members of the public who elected us, especially when making decisions on the spending their money.”

A spokesman for WDC said  £33,000 “is a small price” to pay to ensure there is the “best democratic outcome” for residents.

Spokesman, Shauna Hichens, said: “As in any leader and cabinet arrangement, the leader can make decisions on their own or with their cabinet.

“The leader, Cllr Katrina Wood, chooses to take most decisions with cabinet, but in this case time did not allow and so she consulted her cabinet and other colleagues before using the leader’s executive powers to make the decision herself.

“The estimated costs are no greater than £33,000 per council, a small price in the context of ensuring the best democratic outcome for our residents.”