‘One unitary authority would save millions’

AVDC offices, The Gateway, Aylesbury
AVDC offices, The Gateway, Aylesbury

Calls to consider replacing Buckinghamshire’s four district councils and the county council with one unitary authority have been made by two independent councillors.

Gary Hall from Princes Risborough has persuaded Wycombe District Council to set up a working group to explore the idea ahead of further cataclysmic funding cuts.

And Wingrave ward councillor Peter Cooper, who believes one unitary authority would save millions of pounds, wants Aylesbury Vale District Council to do the same.

Mr Cooper said: “I have raised this subject at council several times over the past four or five years.

“It was also the subject of a notice of motion by the Lib Dems, that I supported, a few months ago. I am now planning to attempt to bring the subject to scrutiny.

“It gives taxpayers a single point of contact for all the important services. If all services are controlled under one banner then the associated overheads are substantially reduced.”

Mr Cooper admitted the plan would result in job cuts, but argued that continuing Government cuts to the budget is causing that anyway.

He said: “There is a danger that the five councils will end up servicing their overheads and providing no useful services.”

New district council leader Neil Blake admitted staff salaries are the biggest cost to the councils but said this was the wrong time for a debate on a unitary authority.

He said: “We have had Government cuts for the last four years and have continued to balance our budget. We know there are more cuts to come but I don’t think this is the way forward. It is an expensive exercise, and I am not sure if it is in the best interests of residents of Aylesbury Vale at this time. You would need the complete support of every other authority in Buckinghamshire and that is the problem.

“But never say never. There may be a time when it is right.”