District Council Leader Neil Blake on Unitary: "It's not a done deal - there's still time to make a difference"

Neil Blake, leader of Aylesbury Vale District Council
Neil Blake, leader of Aylesbury Vale District Council

District Council Leader Neil Blake has his say on the Unitary debate...

Neil said:

"A few weeks ago, the Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, said he’s ‘minded to approve’ the county-led proposal for one new unitary council, effectively a huge Bucks super council (excluding Milton Keynes).

"There’s followed a hard super council sell of ‘savings, savings, savings!’ and you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a done deal. It certainly is not - there’s still time to make a difference. This the biggest change facing local government in Bucks for 40 years and it must be right.

"The claimed savings from this super council of £18 million a year would not even be half of the £40 million gap in the county’s current four year budget, so where exactly will this extra money for pot holes come from? Even if this was deliverable, cheapest is not always best.

"For me, residents, businesses and community groups in the Vale deserve better - a more local and sustainable alternative which delivers savings but is not driven by them. Why? Communities will lose out. Simple.

"Around 70 miles long, Bucks covers the two very different communities of the north and south, based on two distinct economic areas with different challenges, opportunities and needs - examples cut across employment, infrastructure, housing, growth and services.

"It’s unfair to band these communities under a super council. They deserve more local councils delivering the best deal.

"That’s the driving force behind the proposal we’ve submitted, along with Bucks’ other district councils, for two new unitary councils - one serving Aylesbury Vale in the north (from which you would receive all your services) and the other in south Bucks. This proposal would be more tailored to local needs and easier for you, while creating better opportunities for each area - whether that’s delivering the most effective services, ensuring closer decision making or enabling the right growth.

"Still delivering significant savings, it would transform existing county services, providing best value; we’ve carefully balanced our case to ensure communities don’t get lost in cost-cutting. This is a pivotal time. Once the decision is made, its impact will last a lifetime, with a super council risking a range of problems far into the future. Your view counts, so whatever your thoughts, please email the Secretary of State at sajid.javid@communities.gsi.gov.uk by 25 May."