Strong new BCC evidence that residents favour two new unitary councils
19 April 2018
A survey commissioned by Buckinghamshire County Council (BCC) last year has found that significantly more local residents would prefer two new unitary councils for Bucks to a single county-wide unitary council. This is according to a final report which has only recently been made publicly available.
The survey, conducted by Opinion Research Services (ORS) in spring 2017, found that over two-thirds (67%) of residents indicated support for two unitary councils. Those in support said they felt this structure would improve or maintain access to services and provide better accountability.
In a joint statement, the leaders of the four district councils – Neil Blake, Isobel Darby, Nick Naylor and Katrina Wood, said:
“Given that we’re facing the biggest changes to local services in Bucks for 40 years it’s extremely disappointing that such strong evidence, carried out by a reliable company, has not been shared with the public before now. We sincerely hope it’s been sent to the Secretary of State before he makes a final decision which will affect residents for decades to come.
“Despite having to wait several months, these findings very much match what we are hearing on the ground from residents – that there is more support for two new unitary councils than for one.
“For many, a single unitary will be too distant and there is a big question mark over the quality of services that would be provided and whether the savings claimed can actually be delivered.”
The survey, which was carried out by telephone, spoke to a random sample of 1,000 residents across the four district council areas. According to ORS, “…the survey data, once weighted, is broadly representative of the entire population of Buckinghamshire and the results thus provide a statistically reliable estimate of the views of the county’s residents.”
The “open” questionnaire, which was published on the Future Bucks website and was available for anyone to complete, found that there is more support for a single county unitary. Within their report, ORS state that open questionnaires like this one “…cannot normally be expected to be representative of the general balance of opinion.”
The report is available to view online on the Future Bucks website: Engagement-final-report
Residents have until May 25 to send their views on which proposal they prefer to the Secretary of State at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would also encourage them to share their views with their local MP.
Media statement on behalf of all Bucks Districts
12 March 2018
The following statement was made on behalf of all District Councils regarding the future of local government in Buckinghamshire.
The Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, announced in parliament that he is "minded to" implement Buckinghamshire County Council's proposal to replace the existing five councils in Bucks with a single county-wide unitary. We are reflecting on his announcement carefully.
While we are extremely disappointed, the "minded to" decision is not set in stone, and as the process allows, we will be making the strongest possible representations to the Secretary of State that this decision is not the right one. We don't believe that this decision is in the best interest of our local residents, businesses, community groups, parish councils and various other stakeholders across the county and, based on our own engagement, we don't believe it has strong local support.
Our two new unitary proposal recognises key areas of difference for the communities in the north and the south, such as the economy, jobs, growth and housing markets. We believe a single large unitary will mean major opportunities will be missed in these areas and that a one size fits all model will not mean the best deal. We also question the savings the single unitary model claims to deliver.
There is now a period until 25 May 2018 during which those interested may make further representations to the Secretary of State.
Representations can be made by emailing email@example.com
The SoS also accepts written representations to his department :
Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF
The final decision will be subject to Parliamentary approval.
Decision further delayed
4 May 2017
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has confirmed that a decision about the unitary proposals will not be made before the general election on 8 June.
Officials at DCLG have told the four Bucks district councils that the Secretary of State will still make a decision on the two unitary submissions (from the Bucks authorities), but that there is now no timescale for this. The official line from DCLG is that a decision will be made by the new government, “as soon as is practicable”.
No decision yet on the unitary issue
10 April 2017
Back in January this year the four District Councils in Buckinghamshire submitted a proposal for two new unitary councils to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid. Contrary to published expectations there was no announcement from DCLG about a reorganisation of local government in Buckinghamshire in March. Whilst we are disappointed that the Minister has not yet announced his support for our proposals, we remain hopeful that if a decision is announced after the County Council elections, it will indicate support for the two unitary option.
Districts' two new unitary bid gets approval
17 January 2017
Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe District Council members voted overwhelmingly in favour of a proposal for two new unitary authorities in Bucks, at each of their respective council meetings last night. The proposal will now be submitted on behalf of the four Councils to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, today.
Modernising local government in Bucks - could five become two?
10 January 2017
District councilors across Buckinghamshire will vote on Monday 16 January whether to submit the business case for two new unitary councils to Government.
Bucks district councils announce unitary authorites proposal
7 December 2016
Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe District Councils have today (Wednesday 7 December 2016) announced that they will be submitting a joint proposal to the Department for Communities and Local Government for two unitary authorities, based on a north/south split of Buckinghamshire, subject to final stakeholder engagement.
Bucks District councils' report on modernising local government is published today
11 October 2016
The district councils’ report on modernising local government in Buckinghamshire has been published today. Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe District Councils commissioned Deloitte to undertake an open and independent review to find the best option for the future of local government to serve the people of Buckinghamshire.