Business leaders in Bucks have urgently called for an independent commission to be set up to look at creating a single tier council system, warning that “the clock is ticking” as council reserves are “running dry.”

Nine members of the board of Buckinghamshire Business First (BBF) have signed an open letter written by chairman, Alex Pratt, which warns that an urgent review of the council structure that has been in place for over 40 years is needed.

The open letter follows the call from Aylesbury Vale District Councillor Janet Blake, who urged district council leaders to come together and “start talking” about the possibility of becoming a unitary authority. 

In the letter, Mr Pratt said the current system of one county council and four district councils is “too costly, too slow and too bureaucratic and makes Bucks less competitive than other places.”

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He said: “Business Leaders in Bucks recognise the critical importance of civic leadership in this constitutional debate.

“This is not about knocking hard working councillors or staff in current local authorities; it’s about undertaking a sensible independent review of a system which has remained unchanged for the last 40+ years.

“During the same period we have seen the arrival of cell phones, DNA testing, and the internet, not to mention a global financial crisis, passing Hong Kong over to the Chinese, and years of austerity.

“No change is not an option.”

The business leaders, including BBF managing director Philippa Batting and vice chancellor of Bucks New University, Rebecca Bunting, have now suggested an independent panel should be set up to look at “long overdue” change, chaired by a local MP.

Mr Pratt said: “The clock is ticking, local authority reserves are running dry in the face of unprecedented funding challenges, and an urgent review of local government structures is required.

“Any process should not inflate the influence of interested parties.”

Wycombe District Council is yet to formally comment on the debate since it was put in the spotlight by outgoing county council chief executive Chris Williams last month.

In 2014, then leader Richard Scott deferred the debate until after the elections last May. A statement is expected soon.