UNITARY CAMPAIGN: '˜The time is right for unitary debate in Bucks'

Things can change quickly in politics '“ and after a long wait, the Government appears once again receptive to council restructuring.

Wednesday, 23rd March 2016, 6:00 am
View from the roof of Fairfax House, with thanks to the Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust. Looking across to the Bucks County Council (BCC) tower PNL-141003-090627001

When they came to power in 2010, the Conservatives promised to scrap ‘Labour’s uncompleted plans to impose unwieldy and expensive unitary councils’. And in February 2015, then-minister for local government Kris Hopkins reiterated that the Government was clear that unitary restructuring was a ‘distraction’.

However, in the past few months, particularly in conjunction with its Devolution Act, the Government now appears more receptive to unitary proposals.

It comes as all seven Tory MPs in Northamptonshire called for the county’s councils to discuss forming unitary authorities. Northampton South MP David Mackintosh said: “I have discussed this with Government ministers and believe this reorganisation will happen, it is just a question of how.”

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And in Oxfordshire, David Cameron and five other county MPs are backing a proposal for four new unitary councils, which would mean the end of the county council.

When asked to clarify the Government’s position on the creation of unitaries, a spokesman at the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “The Government welcomes any proposals and discussions which deliver better local services, greater value for money and stronger local leadership.”