Recently I’ve had the pleasure of attending Aylesbury’s Live in the Park and the Bucks County Show in Weedon. They were both great places for me to meet members of the public and talk about local issues. What I had to explain was that there just isn’t the money to do all the things that people would like. Demand is going up, costs are rising and funding from Government has been heavily cut as it tries to balance the national budget. To many people I spoke to it was obvious that we need to look again at the way local government is organised in Bucks. Having a County Council and a District Council covering the same area and each charging its own Council Tax and employing their own staff seems crazy.
That’s why the County Council is currently drawing up a Business Case to modernise our local government. We are looking at abolishing both the County Council and all four District Councils and replacing them with one single council responsible for all services. This would mean not having Chief Executives, HR departments or Finance departments for five councils, no buck passing between councils, joined up thinking on issues like housing, planning and putting in place the necessary infrastructure to support new development and most importantly freeing up money to spend on front line services that residents and businesses really want.
At the same time far greater responsibility could be passed down to local Town or Parish Councils or run by committees of local people to give real local decision making. The question I often ask is ‘If the current system of local government didn’t exist, who would create it now?’. The answer is almost no one. Let’s put aside personal self-interest and work together to see how we put residents first. The County Council has also launched a website, www.futurebucks.co.uk where you can keep up to date with our work. Please take a look – the decisions that are taken in the next few months really will affect every resident.