Could local authority reform save £25million a year?

Philippa Batting, managing director of Buckinghamshire Business First ENGPNL00120120727142345
Philippa Batting, managing director of Buckinghamshire Business First ENGPNL00120120727142345

Savings of up to £25 million a year could be made by changing the structure of local government – and a unique new study could prove it.

The extra cash could fix hundreds of thousands of potholes, bring superfast broadband to every home and slash council tax for each family by £100.

Bucks Business First wants to launch an independent study to show how beneficial changes could be in Bucks. It is aiming to raise £25,000 in the next six weeks to fund a high quality study, to be carried out by Ernst & Young. But it wants the help of ordinary people to crowdfund the target amount.

Philippa Batting, managing director of Bucks Business first, said: “We’re trying an innovative way to include everybody.

“We all know a change to local government is needed but which change? And what does it look like? It will help councillors as well. It’s about being better informed.”

There have been a number of calls to move Bucks from a two-tier, five council structure to a unitary authority, including a petition launched last year to campaign for one.

This new study, which will take a ‘matter of weeks’ to complete, aims to spark a proper debate by clearly outlining the pros and cons of different structures.

Ms Batting said: “We’re not coming out in favour of any particular outcome here. We’re just bringing the debate up and facilitating it.”

Aylesbury Vale District councillor Peter Cooper, who has been a long-time campaigner for a unitary authority, said: “Our councils are out of date, out of touch and need urgent reform.

“We need local government that provides residents with services rather than squandering cash on itself.

“So this is a very direct way for individuals to make their wishes known and to send a strong message to entrenched political leaders that they must listen.”

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