Plans for a new town council for High Wycombe have been “kicked in the long grass”, campaigners fear.

Despite a popular campaign and petition backed by the Bucks Free Press, councillors on the Regulatory and Appeals committee, who were tasked with looking at the possibility of creating a town council, have decided to let the shadow executive of the new Buckinghamshire Council make the decision instead.

After a meeting to discuss the community governance review on Tuesday night, angry campaigners who have fought for a town council so residents can have a voice when the new county-wide unitary authority comes into existence in April next year have accused councillors of not caring about the town.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the results of a public consultation were presented by the chairman of ORS, the organisation which carried out the task.

Dale Hall said 681 open questionnaires were submitted, 803 telephone surveys of residents were carried out and three focus groups were held to get people’s views on a new town council – and more than two-thirds supported the creation of a High Wycombe Town Council.

Meanwhile, a report by law firm Bevan Brittan agreed that it was “clear that the ‘vast majority’ of residents identify strongly with High Wycombe as a town, and there is most support among residents – overall, more than two-thirds of respondents – for a town council for High Wycombe”.

Lawyers recommended Wycombe District Council agree one of three options - the whole of the unparished area of High Wycombe becoming one town council, a parish council for one or more areas of Micklefield, Sands or Totteridge as well as a High Wycombe town council or a parish council for Micklefield, Sands and/or Totteridge and no town council.

They added that WDC could wait until the new Buckinghamshire Council becomes operational with the expectation that any new town council comes into existence by May 2021 or defer taking a decision at all until the new unitary council is created, leaving them to decide.

Councillors agreed to let the new unitary authority make the decision – a move that has been slammed by campaigners.

In a statement by former mayors Cllr Khalil Ahmed, Trevor Snaith, Nigel Vickery and Frances Alexander, who have all called for a town council, they criticised the move - saying councillors were “determined to block the formation of a town council for High Wycombe”.

They said: “Let it be known that the residents of High Wycombe have been deprived of a town council for over 40 years whilst Marlow and Princes Risborough had their own respective town councils throughout that time.

“Hypocritically the same councillors that themselves enjoy the benefits of a town or parish council were among others last night who chose to defer the decision to implement a town council in light of the findings of a comprehensive consultation undertaken as part of the community governance review.

“The findings concluded that there was overwhelming evidence to implement a town council.

“The Tory administration of WDC which is best known for 'kicking important issues into the long grass' have done it again. They have shown that they do not care about our town.

“They have left it the new shadow authority to make the decision for the future of local democracy. A shadow authority that consists of members throughout the county of Buckinghamshire to make the future of our town.

“This is nothing short of dereliction of duty by the very councillors voted by the residents of High Wycombe to act in the best interests of the town.

“These councillors have shown they have little interest of concern for the future of the town of High Wycombe or the future of the mayoralty.”