Bucks new ‘super council’ could have more members than the Scottish Parliament– prompting fears the new system could already be facing budget problems.
Last month secretary of state for local government James Brokenshire approved plans for a unitary authority in Bucks and proposed the new council should be made up of 147 councillors.
The figure is a huge increase from the 98 politicians proposed in Bucks County Council’s business case for the new authority.
Speaking at a full council meeting in Aylesbury on Thursday November 22 leader Martin Tett, branded the proposal “obscene” and assured members he will be passing his concerns on to government.
He added the increase in politicians could cost the new authority up to £2 million.
Cllr Tett said: “The view that the figure might be increased from 98 to 147 is a very major change.
“It will have two effects – one that it will put us massively out of line with other councils in the country.
“Birmingham, one of the largest by population in the country, has 101.
“Leeds, another major metropolitan area only has 99. Wiltshire, which has a very similar geography to ourselves, a very similar population has 98, we would be 147.
“I don’t know how I justify that quite frankly to the public.
“There are 129 members of the Scottish Parliament.
“We are going to have 147 potentially.
“I think residents would be quite right to look at this and really query what the rationale is behind this.”
The new authority – which will replace Aylesbury Vale, Wycombe, South Bucks and Chiltern district councils as well as the county council – is set to be in place by April 2020.
Politicians backed Cllr Tett’s concerns, with cabinet member for children’s services Warren Whyte, saying the government’s plan “smacks of anti-efficiency”.
He said: “I struggle to understand the rationale for the 147 option.
“I think it smacks of anti-efficiency and would create a large bureaucratic cumbersome council which would be against the business case.
“I have not been persuaded – I don’t think it will solved any problems at all, it will just create problems.”
Cllr David Martin urged members to oppose the increase, adding: “The feedback from Wiltshire, after nine years of a unitary council, from residents and some members, is that a 49 division authority with two members per division is too much.
“The feedback is that one would do, which is my view for this county.
“The purpose of the unitary authority is to provide better and improved services at reduced costs to residents.”