David's Statement on the Bucks Unitary Authority Decision

David said:

"As you know, the Secretary of State has announced that he is minded to agree to the proposal of a single unitary authority to replace both Buckinghamshire County Council and the four District Councils. Milton Keynes would remain as a separate unitary council in its own right.
 
"I share the view of both the County and District Councils that the present two tier system should be replaced by unitary local government. Money in local government is and will continue to be tight. It should be used to spend on front-line public services rather than on supporting five different hierarchies of officials, personnel systems, maintenance contracts and so on. I have also come increasingly to the view that the current distribution of responsibilities is confusing. For example, the District Council is responsible for collecting our bins, but the County Council for managing and disposing of the waste. The District Council takes planning decisions about new housing, but the County Council has to deal with the consequences for roads, schools and social services.
 
"My approach to this debate has been to try and start with an open mind and judge which of the unitary options, one or two authorities, will best deliver improved public services at least cost to local residents.
 
"Having studied both proposals, and while I respect the case that the District Councils have made for having two authorities, my own preference is for a single unitary Council.
 
"There were a number of reasons that led me to this view.
 
"First, the saving to local residents would be significantly greater with one authority rather than two: £18.2 million a year compared with £10.3 million. That's nearly £8 million extra each year to spend on local services or to return to local residents through a lower rate of Council Tax.
 
"Second, I discussed the proposals with the local NHS organisations who were concerned that social services for children, elderly people and people with disabilities, currently the responsibility of Buckinghamshire County Council, should not be split up as a consequence of local government reform. Indeed, the two NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups, the purse holders for local NHS spending, that cover North and South Bucks respectively have decided to federate in order to work more effectively on a County-wide basis.
 
"Third, local business, especially as represented by Bucks Business First and the Bucks Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership, argued strongly for a single unitary council.
 
"A lot of work has been done by both County and District Councils to support the different cases that they have made to the Secretary of State. He made his "minded to" decision having taken account of detailed submissions by both the County and the Districts as well as responses by other organisations and individuals. Both the County and District Councils are now entitled to make their case again to Mr Javid ahead of his final decision. However, I hope that this will be done without spending large amounts of taxpayers' money and I regret the decision by some Councils to spend residents' money on door to door leaflets."