Business Eye: You heard it here first - change is on the way

Alex Pratt
Alex Pratt

Last Thursday in Scotland, after hundreds of years of tradition, we witnessed a momentous vote by a huge proportion of a fully engaged electorate.

Over 85% of the all-male membership of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club voted YES to allow ladies to join the club.

The other big vote was, in my humble opinion thankfully NO, because the financial and business risks were substantial.

This NO vote caused the Pound to rally, the stock market to bounce ahead, and prompted an audible sigh of relief at the huge costs avoided.

We would however be foolish to imagine that this is the end of the matter.

To quote Churchill ‘Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.’

What happens next has the power to either rapidly accelerate our economic decline or to reverse it to the huge potential benefit of future generations.

The question of how we devolve more power and influence back to the coalface in England is an important one that will require a major rethink of Local Government.

The need has been bubbling under for some time now, but when in July the Bucks business community crowd-funded a research project into options for streamlining our unnecessarily complex, bureaucratic multi-tier system, some local politicians scoffed and even complained that the make-up Local Government was none of our business.

Did you know that in Aylesbury Vale (just 175,000 residents), we have Parish Councils, Town Councils, a District Council, the County Council.

We then have the Bucks Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which brings the County and 4 Districts in Bucks together with the business community to focus on keeping more of our residents in jobs in future (only 55% of Bucks residents are able to find a job in Bucks, the lowest number in the country).

Unbelievably, there is also a second LEP which buses in the direct influence of Councillors as far away as Kettering and Daventry into our affairs. You could not make it up.

The research findings when released next month will be compelling reading.

Traditionally, deals might have been done by Councils deciding their own futures, but the Scottish referendum has shown that we do have a very strong appetite for a say in how we are governed.

Change is coming to Bucks. You heard it here first.