THE CONSERVATIVES have hit back at opposition claims the “largest unparished area” in the county is lacking proper representation.

Kevin Hourigan, chairperson of the Wycombe Conservative Association, presented an “alternative view” to deputy Labour Group leader, councillor Khalil Ahmed’s claim a lack of a town council in High Wycombe creates a “democratic deficit”.

Mr Hourigan branded Cllr Ahmed’s statements “misleading and erroneous”.

He challenged the Disraeli ward member after Cllr Ahmed restated an earlier claim people in Wycombe had been denied a town council in January when plans were put on hold by the shadow executive.

READ MORE: ‘No town council creates democratic deficit’

Cllr Ahmed told the Free Press “neglected” parts of the town needed local representation and that he is seeking “legal advice” on January’s outcome.

“There is no democratic deficit in High Wycombe because every ward in the town has elected councillors representing it, both from the former District Council and from the former County Council,” said Mr Hourigan.

“All of these councillors have been elected in contested elections in each ward.”

Mr Hourigan cited Prime Minster Boris Johnson’s decision to postpone May 2020 elections until May 2021 owing to Covid-19, at which point those elected councillors “will have automatic membership of the High Wycombe Town Committee and thus a major say in the detail of matters affecting the town”.

He slammed as “palpable nonsense” Cllr Ahmed’s claim Wycombe “requires a town council purely to ensure local people are elected to act in the best interests of Wycombe”.

Mr Hourigan also dismissed Cllr Ahmed’s claim Wycombe is the largest unparished area in Buckinghamshire incurring a “democratic deficit” without a town or parish council.

Adding: “It is illogical to say the councillors in Abbey, Downley and Castlefield are somehow a ‘deficit’ when they have responsibility for and vote on all Bucks Council matters, and not just the relatively minor matters devolved to parishes.”

READ MORE: ‘New one-way system in town will create chaos for locals’

Mr Hourigan took issue with Cllr Ahmed’s claim a town council would improve the lot of Wycombe’s high street, market, and festivals, arguing they “come under the remit of the new Buckinghamshire Council”.

“The irony that the matters about which he complains were under his own control as a long-standing WDC councillor seems entirely lost on Cllr Ahmed,” he said.

Mr Hourigan also labelled as “empty” Cllr Ahmed’s claim there is widespread political and community appetite for a town council. Adding: “For whilst his petitioners claimed that they had garnered over 5,000 votes, only 681 residents of the town bothered to respond to the public consultation.”

Mr Hourigan said another argument against a town council being a “good thing” for High Wycombe, is the “expected” electoral review by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) “that will look at the appropriate number of councillors for the new unitary authority and location and size of wards and the consequent town/parish boundaries”.

“Once complete, all parties can have an informed debate on hard facts as to whether to retain the existing town committee, or to create a new layer of government in High Wycombe, for which the residents would have to pay, and which would have significantly reduced powers over those that the new unitary councillors will have,” he added.