District council chiefs refused an invitation offered by the leader of the county council to meet and find “common ground” in unitary council discussions, it has emerged.
Leader of Bucks County Council (BCC), Martin Tett, “reached out” to the four district councils in Bucks after Government backed plans to create a ‘super council’ in the county last month, and subsequently launched a public consultation.
Wycombe, South Bucks, Chiltern and Aylesbury Vale district councils have publicly opposed proposals since they came to light in 2016 – and later submitted their own plans to Government for two unitary authorities in the county.
Cllr Tett said he respects the district council’s “right to have a different opinion” however is “disappointed” they rejected his request to meet and “work together” during the consultation and in later months.
At a press conference on Thursday he said: “I have now received a letter back from district leaders rejecting the idea of meeting. There is no opportunity currently to see where we can find common ground where we can reach a consensus and indeed where we differ.
“I would love to have seen us issue a statement of common ground, could have actually put out those principles where we do agree, maybe then have highlighted those areas where we don’t agree. I completely accept that.
“This isn’t an attempt to railroad district council colleagues or anything like that. This is an attempt to find consensus where we can on behalf of the residents of the county.”
In a joint statement, district council leaders Katrina Wood, Nick Naylor, Isobel Darby and Neil Blake said they “explained in a private letter to the leader of BCC why we do not think that now is the time to meet”.
The statement said: “We do not believe that a single county unitary is in the best interests of our residents and businesses and we are confident that a better way forward can be achieved.
“This has been our position since we made a submission for two new unitary councils to Government in January 2017 and it’s still a position that we maintain.
“The representation period, which runs until 25 May, provides us with an opportunity to provide further information to support our proposal that two new unitary councils is the best solution for Bucks
“And we have explained in a private letter to the leader of Buckinghamshire County Council why we do not think that now is time to meet.”
Members of the public have until May 25 to share their views with Government by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org