Replacing two tiers with one to be looked at by district council

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Replacing Bucks’ four district councils and the county council with a single unitary authority will be investigated by a Vale committee.

Aylesbury Vale District Council’s (AVDC) finance and services scrutiny committee is to look at the costs and benefits of a single council.

A similar investigation was recently approved by Wycombe District Council.

The idea has previously been dismissed by AVDC leaders, but gained the committee’s support after a motion was put forward by Councillor Peter Cooper, an independent member who has long backed the plan.

Mr Cooper said: “There is a great deal of support from voters and the business community in Buckinghamshire for our local government structure to be streamlined and made more relevant to the needs of local people.

“The five council, two tier structure is heading for a serious financial crisis as government grants are cut.

“Our front line services are at risk and we are in danger of spending a disproportionate amount of available funds on overheads.”

A report will be prepared for the committee’s next meeting in November so the costs and benefits of a unitary council can start to be assessed.

In a recent interview with the Advertiser and Review’s sister paper, Bucks Herald, the new AVDC leader, Councillor Neil Blake, said it was the wrong time to be looking at creating a unitary authority, a similar stance to his predecessor, Councillor John Cartwright.

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.”

A unitary authority, such as Milton Keynes Council, has a single tier and is responsible for all local government functions within its area.