The leader of Bucks County Council has slammed Aylesbury Vale chiefs for announcing unitary authority plans without consulting him.
Martin Tett expressed his anger that the authority had not spoken to them before making today’s announcement that the council is to look into ways to break free and run services on its own.
The announcement came at the same time as Mr Tett attended a Silverstone race track junket, where he and leaders of Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire councils announced plans to work together.
Mr Tett said: ”We’re disappointed we weren’t consulted, and frankly surprised at the announcement, given the way Aylesbury Vale District Council dismissed the recent impartial BBF report on unitary options for Buckinghamshire.
“Clearly the question of unitary local government affects the whole of Buckinghamshire, and just cannot be decided in the offices of Aylesbury Vale District Council.
“There are many options of how a unitary council might work in Buckinghamshire and we need to have an impartial and informed debate on all options, with the benefits and disadvantages clear for each. We need to involve all residents, businesses and stakeholders of Buckinghamshire in such a debate.”
Aylesbury Vale is the second largest district in the country with a population of 182,000. Mr Blake cited success stories for councils such as Bedford Borough and Windsor and Maidenhead, and claimed that the decision was not a party political one.
He said: “We would look to take over the majority of services that are currently run by the county council.
“It could be argued that we do not have a track record of running these services, but we do have a track record of success.”
He added: “This is not about the Conservative administration electioneering. Every group at the council is supportive of this unitary proposal, and what is important is what is best for residents in the Vale.
“We don’t have a vested interest because we could all be out of a job when the new unitary is formed, but what’s important is that residents get a much better deal.”
The council will now make as case for the shake-up, which would then be put before a public referendum as early as next year.
This vote cannot take place at the same time as the general election, but it was claimed that it could take place after the new government is formed.
Of the current 55 unitary authorities, nearly 90% are district based. There are already 20 existing unitary councils with smaller populations than Aylesbury Vale.
In 1994 the Local Government Commission for England recommended a unitary council for Aylesbury Vale. A report commissioned by Bucks Business First earlier this year also found that the simplification of the council structure would be beneficial for residents.