Warnings for future from council chiefs
Unprecedented challenges need planning for '“ that was the message of council leader Martin Tett's keynote speech to the authority this week.
Mr Tett delivered the address as part of Bucks County Council’s annual debate, part of the authority’s annual general meeting on Thursday.
He warned that by 2021 Buckinghamshire will be home to 547,000 residents, up 100,000 since 1991 as a result of housing growth.
And while familes with children would move in to the area, he said that there was a real challenge with regards to keeping bright young graduates, who never return to Bucks after going away to university.
He said: “Many of our grammar school children go off to the Russell Group universities and they do not come back.
“We populate businesses around the country but they do not come back to Bucks.”
And the county’s ageing population is also cause for concern according to Mr Tett.
He said: “There will be fewer working age people to support our rapidly growing ageing population, people are living for longer.”
Mr Tett said that to offset these challenges, he would like the council to work towards being completely self sufficient by the 2018/19 financial year.
He also said that he would like to see every service ‘transformed and digital by design’ to save money, and molre partnership working and service integration.
After the speech, opposition leaders were invited to respond. Addressing cuts to the government grant, and other Westminster imposed reforms, Avril Davies (Lib Dem) speaking on behalf of her party and Labour, said: “If I was feeling charitable I would say that the governmnet is trying to drag us back into the 19th century model of local government.
“But it is meerly a continuation of the age-old love-hate relationship, making local government a soft target for austerity measures.”
And UKIP leader Chris Adams raised the subject of a unitary authority at the meeting. Mr Adams, who stood for MP at the last election, said: “The time is now for a unitary council, or possibly two unitary councils, the time for doing nothing is not an option.”