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Councils' legal challenge against Buckinghamshire merger process rejected

An application from three district councils for a judicial review of the merger plans to create a single unitary council for Buckinghamshire has failed.

South Buckinghamshire, Chiltern and Wycombe councils have been informed that their application, which was prompted by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s handling of the plans, has not been given permission to proceed.

Responding to the ruling, the councils said: “This is obviously a disappointment and something that we will be taking legal advice on in the first instance.

“However, it remains our sole intention to do everything we can to ensure the new Buckinghamshire Council is something we can all be proud of and will be the very best for all our residents.”

The three district councils launched formal proceedings regarding the new unitary plans in January, stating that they supported change for Buckinghamshire but that they were “very disappointed” by the communities secretary James Brokenshire.

The Buckinghamshire councils claimed Brokenshire had “taken away the democratic oversight” and said they had no choice but to launch legal action.

“Specifically, the three councils have concerns about the lack of local consent, about recent changes to the proposed democratic arrangements and a lack of reasons given for making those changes. The result of these changes is that the proposed orders will result in a lack of democratic oversight.”

One of the authorities’ major issues concerned the government’s choice to appoint Martin Tett, the leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, as the chair of the shadow executive, as the districts wanted the chair elected by the 236 members of the shadow authority.

Tett commented: “We’re pleased that the courts have decided not to proceed any further with the legal challenge from Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe District Councils in relation to how the new council for Buckinghamshire will be created – this could have been at a huge cost to our taxpayers.”

He said all the councils were agreed that a new council for Buckinghamshire was a good thing for residents, and that he was looking forward to working with the council leaders and shadow executive members.

“With just over 12 months to go until the new council is due to open, there is a huge amount of work for us to do together.”


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