In the last few years Buckinghamshire Business First (BBF) has emerged as a vigorous and outspoken champion of local employers. They’ve produced well-researched studies of the local economy, lobbied on both national and local government policy and put forward ideas on housing and transport.

So I was very interested to read their latest report, on the future of local government in our county.

Their analysis is pretty stark. Whoever is in government nationally, the pressure on local government finances is going to continue. In part that’s because the need to pay off debt means there will be a continuing search for savings in Whitehall and town halls alike. And it’s also because social change means that there’s greater demand for services like child protection and social care for very old and frail people.

Some savings will come from technology, as digital communications cut administrative costs. Every year, more of us access government services online rather than needing to visit offices or fill in paper forms.

Our County and District Councils have already made significant savings - £85 million to date according to BBF- with more in the pipeline. And they’ve tried hard to do that while protecting the key front-line services.

But I think BBF are right to make us think too about local authority structures. We have one County Council and four District Councils for a population of 516,000 and on BBF’s estimate we are soon going to face a gap of up to £40 million a year between spending and revenue across the Bucks local councils.

Now I’m instinctively cautious about reorganisations. In my experience they usually mean two years of introversion as people work out how the new set-up will operate. And for the staff involved and their families it can be a very unsettling and stressful experience.

But I don’t think we can avoid looking at this question. BBF estimates that up to £20.7 million a year could be saved by replacing the County and Districts with a single council covering the whole of Bucks. They argue that other counties like Cornwall and Shropshire have already shown that such a change works well.

BBF estimates that having two unitaries, based around Aylesbury and Wycombe respectively, would save money too, about half that made from having just one council.

One unitary council should make for better strategic planning of housing, economic development and transport. But would that come, as the Districts argue, at the cost of a significant loss of local knowledge and accountability? And, while this oversimplifies the situation a bit, how do you factor in the reality that South Bucks looks to London and the Thames Valley, but North Bucks to Milton Keynes and the South Midlands. Does that suggest two councils would be best?

I think our councils could and should do more to share overheads and back office costs even now. And I hope that local residents will read the BBF report and make clear their views, as local taxpayers, on whether and how to reform the structure of local government here.