VOICE OF THE BUCKS HERALD: Scrap councils not vital services

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Local services are facing unprecedented cuts to their budgets - but there is a simple way to unlock tens of millions of pounds.

Today, The Bucks Herald calls for politicians in the county to finally work together to protect services by reducing the number of councils in Bucks and move towards a unitary model of governance.

It comes as the outgoing chief executive of Bucks County Council, Chris Williams, labelled our two-tier council structure as ‘prehistoric’. Aylesbury MP David Lidington is also calling for a serious look into going unitary.

Frankly, it is a nonsense that in this era of austerity, we have separate district and county councils, each with their own senior managers, office blocks, personnel, administration, and public relations departments. We have ‘twin-hat’ councillors who sit on both councils, earning thousands in allowances. One council collects our rubbish, and the other disposes of it, while the district plans for housing but the county provides the infrastructure for it. It just does not make sense.

The government has recently said it is open to proposals for changes to council structure. Aylesbury Vale District Council is already looking into a business case for a single Vale authority, but now Bucks County Council must examine in detail how a single county-wide authority would work, so that residents can decide for themselves which option they prefer.

And whatever that may be, all politicians in the county must put their self-interests to one side to ensure that services are protected and ratepayers get the best value for their money.