Councillors agree next steps following unitary announcement

South Bucks District Council (SBDC) has agreed to make representations to the Secretary of State in response to his recent 'minded to' statement on the future of local government in Buckinghamshire. The council decided this in order that it could fully understand the rationale and evidence that supports this position and to ensure he has considered all of the most up-to-date information to help inform his final decision.

An extraordinary meeting of Council took place on Monday 9 April, after the Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, announced on 12 March that he is 'minded to' approve a single county-wide unitary authority for Buckinghamshire (excluding Milton Keynes), replacing the existing county and four district councils.

Last year, South Bucks District Council, in partnership with Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern and Wycombe district councils, submitted an alternative proposal, which would create two new all-purpose unitary authorities providing all services in the north and south of Buckinghamshire.

"Together with the other Bucks district councils we don't believe what the Secretary of State has announced is in the best interest of our local residents. The proposed changes to the structure of local government in Buckinghamshire are the biggest for 40 years and will have a significant impact on the way extremely important services for local people are delivered. 

"We are very concerned about a 'one size fits all' single unitary for Buckinghamshire as it would be too distant and remote from South Bucks, meaning that key decisions affecting the delivery of our services could be made with limited local representation.

It is worth noting that Buckinghamshire has two very distinct social and economic centres with the north and south having significantly different challenges and opportunities. A twin unitary would reflect the natural geography much more effectively" commented Nick Naylor, SBDC's Leader of the Council.

The government announcement specified a 10-week period of representations that is scheduled to end on 25 May 2018. The final decision will be subject to a period of consideration before parliamentary approval.

Following the meeting, South Bucks District Council will now work with the other district councils to plan their response to the 'minded to' statement.