At last, we have a decision by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on local government reorganisation: Buckinghamshire will have one single unitary authority. You can read the Secretary of State’s decision here.
All the Councils in Buckinghamshire agreed the current system of county and district councils could not go on. My first concern is to ensure the people of Wycombe receive the best quality service from local government, responding to local concerns and with local accountability whilst keeping taxes low.
I know councillors and staff in Wycombe District Council will be disappointed at the decision the Secretary of State has made. I am confident these excellent public servants will find positions in the new unitary council.
Our public services must be rooted within our communities. Given most people in Bucks live in the south of the county, most councillors in the new council will be drawn from the south. The new council must have a physical presence in our town with hubs to access services and a strengthened Local Area Forum making decisions.
One of the first challenges which the Leader and Chief Executive of the new Buckinghamshire Unitary Council must face is how to ensure Wycombe’s assets are used first and foremost to serve Wycombe residents. These assets have been built-up and safeguarded over many years and my constituents rightly want reassurance they will be used to enhance services in our area.
As we move forward, I hope local people will unite around proposals which will safeguard and improve the local services on which so many depend.
With the Secretary of State’s decision, there will be calls for a Town Council in High Wycombe. This will be something for the new unitary Council to decide. It is important any new representative body in High Wycombe reflects the people who live there and has a community focus.