Javid ‘minded to’ approve unitary plans for Buckinghamshire

Sajid Javid has today announced that he is minded to approve plans which would see a large unitary authority created from the six existing authorities in Buckinghamshire.

Under the current proposal Buckinghamshire County Council would be merged with the smaller councils of Wycombe, Chiltern, South Bucks, and Aylesbury Vale and High Wycombe.

The communities and housing secretary said he had chosen the plans against a competing proposal which would have seen two separate unitary councils created.

In a parliamentary statement, Javid said: “Having carefully considered all the material and representations I have received, I am minded to implement, subject to Parliamentary approval and further discussions, the locally-led proposal to replace the existing five councils across Buckinghamshire with a single council for the area.

“I am satisfied that this new single council, if established, is likely to improve local government and service delivery in the county, generating savings, increasing financial resilience, facilitating a more strategic and holistic approach to planning and housing challenges, and sustaining good local services.”

He went on to say that there was a “good deal of support” for the proposals in Buckinghamshire and that the situation was appropriate geographically.

However, he criticised the two-council approach for failing to provide “significant” savings and for lacking the capacity to deal with all of the issues in the area.

The plans have been welcomed by the County Councils Network (CCN) which said it was a “bold decision” but the “right solution” to the issues in Buckinghamshire.

“Buckinghamshire put together an attractive proposal that gained the support of residents and politicians alike, and their ambitious plans will allow them to better adapt to the challenges facing local authorities in modern times,” said Simon Edwards, CCN director.

“Importantly, this option was chosen ahead of breaking up and fragmenting the county; it is county boundaries that have the size and scale necessary to retain and reform crucial frontline public services so they work better for residents, whilst offering the best scope for financial savings.

“We look forward to working with Buckinghamshire during the transition and welcoming the new authority into the county unitary family at CCN.”

The proposals will now be open to further representation between now and 25 May 2018 to allow any interested parties to suggest modifications before the secretary of state seeks parliamentary approval.

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