I was intrigued to read Councillor Blake’s recent defence of his proposals to break up Buckinghamshire and replace just part of it with a unitary AVDC.
But, before we potentially destroy a proud and ‘tried and tested’ County, residents have to ask some fundamental questions.
> AVDC talk of a ‘business case’ for change. Who will produce this and would it be fair and accurate? Surely an independent third party is the answer to avoid bias and vested interests?
> All the options must be assessed rather than just AVDC looking for more power for itself?
Local government is complex with many partnerships and working arrangements in place.
We’re also in a new era of combined authorities and other opportunities to reduce costs so everything must be considered. Taking a blinkered view is high risk. > How would AVDC handle services which help the most vulnerable? Would the proposed savings mentioned by Councillor Blake include reductions in these critical areas?
> What support do they have from the other District Councils in Buckinghamshire given that the county council would probably be financially unviable to carry on? Would costs to residents across southern Buckinghamshire inevitably increase without the existing economies of scale?
> Would breaking up Buckinghamshire weaken our ability to campaign on issues for our residents like opposing HS2, working with the NHS, protecting our education system and lobbying Government?
It’s unlikely that the 40 year-old model of local government in Buckinghamshire can survive for much longer, whoever wins the next election.
We must reduce the fixed costs of five councils and put every penny into protecting those services residents rely on the most.
Therefore, I support delivering the big, strategic services through a single new Buckinghamshire Council.
This gives us £20m extra to invest straight away.
This cash, combined with real devolution to towns like Buckingham and our parish councils is the proper win-win for all Buckinghamshire’s 516,000 residents.
But the right time for this debate is when Government is open, not opposed to this discussion.
Until then, I will fight attempts to destroy Buckinghamshire - our prosperous economy, our beautiful countryside and our fantastic education system - just on the whim of one council.