Our local MP David Lidington has hardened his stance on the unitary debate, throwing his weight behind the county council’s proposal for a single unitary authority, one council to administer the whole of Buckinghamshire.
David Lidington has written to interested constituents clearly tying his colours to the single unitary mast.
Mr Lidington who is the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, wrote to constituents who copied him into their emails to James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Local Government, who will have the final say on unitary which is in the final week of consultation.
And in the round-robin letter, seen by this newspaper Mr Lidington said: “My approach to this debate has been to try and start with an open mind and judge which of the unitary options, one or two authorities, will best deliver improved public services at least cost to local residents.
“Having studied both proposals, and while I respect the case that the District Councils have made for having two authorities, my own preference is for a single unitary Council.
He went on to outline his reasons for choosing the single option.
He said: “First, the saving to local residents would be significantly greater with one authority rather than two: £18.2 million a year compared with £10.3 million. That’s nearly £8 million extra each year to spend on local services or to return to local residents through a lower rate of Council Tax.
“Second, I discussed the proposals with the local NHS organisations who were concerned that social services for children, elderly people and people with disabilities, currently the responsibility of Buckinghamshire County Council, should not be split up as a consequence of local government reform. Indeed, the two NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups, the purse holders for local NHS spending, that cover North and South Bucks respectively have decided to federate in order to work more effectively on a County-wide basis.
“Third, local business, especially as represented by Bucks Business First and the Bucks Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership, argued strongly for a single unitary council.”
In addition, he lamented the huge amounts of money that some of the District Councils had spent on advertising campaigns to try and change local residents minds.
It is perhaps unsurprising that Mr Lidington has come out in favour of the single authority. As a Government minister he is required to support the party’s stance on key issues and vote accordingly .