Jump to content


Photo

Local Government


  • Please log in to reply
30 replies to this topic

#1 Alan W

Alan W

    ALAN

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 175 posts

Posted 15 December 2006 - 06:20 PM

Hopefully most of you know that behind the scenes - there are possible major changes afoot to change the Structure of Local Government.

Whilst its quite complex with various options - it basically boils down to the choice between a stronger Local Council or Buckinghamshire County Council becoming a Unitary Authority - a Super-Council responsible for almost everything.

The Leaders at Bucks suggest that merging the 5 District Councils will enable them to make major savings (10M has been suggested) as they won't need 5 of everything. For example they won't need 5 Chief Executives - but what will they pay for 5 Directors responsible for each area !!. THey have even suggested a freeze on Council Tax rises might be possible.

This move towards a Single Unitary Authority just cannot be allowed to happen - because we all know how Bucks treats its constituents at the present. It has been pursuing a policy for the last 18 months - of "GC2C" - (Getting Closer to the Community). In my view they have been even more distant from the Local Communities than they have ever been. (Road Repairs not being done / Pavements being redone when they were only done 2 Years ago / 7 Libraries being closed - the list is endless.) I am sure you all have your own issues.

There is an unhealthy speed at which this process is being undertaken - with some decisions anticipated late in January 2007 and to date - I have not heard of any Public Consultation on this matter as yet.

I'd be interested in your views - for or against - as The Amersham Action Group would like to consider its own response to this issue early next month - before Bucks puts its responses to Central Government.

#2 KevinR

KevinR

    Advanced Member

  • Moderator
  • PipPipPip
  • 379 posts
  • Location:Chesham Bois

Posted 15 December 2006 - 06:51 PM

Alan - what happens to the parish councils? I know we currently have a 3 tier system (Bucks CC then District Councils then Parish Councils). Does having a Unitary Authority mean that both the District and Parish councils go?

I have been very impressed with my parish council (Chesham Bois) - it is well run, cost effective, well managed and reactive to local concerns. I cannot imagine a monolithic central body serving my local needs anything like as well as the current parish council.

#3 Matthew (MPJ/Admin)

Matthew (MPJ/Admin)

    Administrator

  • Root Admin
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,074 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 16 December 2006 - 11:42 AM

This is a huge topic and I am concerned if it is being rushed through with little consultation.

A larger unitary body may well have advantages in economies of scale, but at what cost to actual service levels? The NHS seems to be creating centers of excellence but at the same time moving other services to a local level, perhaps something similar would be the solution to local government, on the other hand, is this not what we have now?

I believe a major issue is what area a unitary body should cover. If a single body is to be created, why should it be based on the county of Buckinghamshire? Does the Chiltern district actually have anything in common with Aylesbury and the Vale to the north? I believe in 1974 (approximately) when there was a big shake up in local council boundaries, Bucks lost Slough but gained Milton Keynes. The perception was that much of the rate payers money after this time was spent on Milton Keynes at the expense of other areas of Bucks, what benefit is Milton Keynes to Amersham? Owing to changes in economic conditions and population, does the Chiltern area have more in common with Hemel / Watford / Slough than Aylesbury? Why should we just have to accept Bucks CC as the unitary body, it is too remote.
Matthew P Jones
Web Master of www.amersham.org.uk and www.metroland.org.uk

Follow Amershan News & Views on Twitter

Amersham News Views & Information is also on Facebook


Don't forget to read the Forum Rules!

#4 Alan W

Alan W

    ALAN

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 175 posts

Posted 16 December 2006 - 02:54 PM

There have even been suggestions that Slough might put themselves forward as a Unitary Authority and try to annex South Bucks and Chiltern - which might fit in - and perhaps Milton Keynes going for Unitary Status and they would annex North Bucks.

You are right MPJ - its a huge topic and needs real Public Consultation.

#5 Fran

Fran

    Advanced Member

  • Moderator
  • PipPipPip
  • 5,206 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Amersham
  • Interests:Reading, writing about reading, theatre, film, restaurants, walking through woodland, Scrabble.

Posted 16 December 2006 - 06:20 PM

suggestions that Slough might put themselves forward as a Unitary Authority and try to annex South Bucks and Chiltern


I don't want to belong to Slough! :o

#6 Jinni

Jinni

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 99 posts

Posted 16 December 2006 - 06:41 PM

Slough and Milton Keynes are already Unitary aren't they?

But I had heard that MK might be taking in part of North Bucks

#7 Matthew (MPJ/Admin)

Matthew (MPJ/Admin)

    Administrator

  • Root Admin
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,074 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 16 December 2006 - 08:11 PM

I don't want to belong to Slough! :o


Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!
It isn't fit for humans now,
There isn't grass to graze a cow.
Swarm over, Death!

John Betjeman
Matthew P Jones
Web Master of www.amersham.org.uk and www.metroland.org.uk

Follow Amershan News & Views on Twitter

Amersham News Views & Information is also on Facebook


Don't forget to read the Forum Rules!

#8 Alan

Alan

    Alan

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,540 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Amersham between Quill Hall Farm & Raans Farm
  • Interests:Family, Computers, the country side, the good life, pest control (Old Bill Pest Control) & anything diffrent

Posted 17 December 2006 - 09:00 PM

This just moves things toward central govenment controlling it all. Labour and Tory have lied to us all over the years. I've never voted for either and both have been my employer. Give the other lot a go at least they tell you what the taxes go on. You can die withour being taxed (more)

#9 a t o m i c

a t o m i c

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 764 posts

Posted 17 December 2006 - 11:03 PM

I could certainly see an argument for merging Chiltern and South Bucks - and maybe even Wycombe too - but North and South Bucks have different centres of gravity and I'd hate our local govt to move up to Aylesbury, MK or Buckingham.

#10 Zoom

Zoom

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 840 posts

Posted 17 December 2006 - 11:18 PM

Well what also comes into play is the gradual regionalisation of central goverment and national NDPBs (non-departmental public bodies). Recently "government offices" have been set up which seem to me to be taking on the role of regional branches of central government in order to strengthen government control over local activity.

http://www.gos.gov.uk/national/

All part of the control-freakery of recent governments.

#11 Tallguy

Tallguy

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 441 posts

Posted 18 December 2006 - 11:51 PM

If it means getting rid of some of the morons we have have at Wycomeb District Council then I'm all for it. Scrap the 2 tier system, put everything under one roof - one level of councillor who is a paid part timer and out with all the rubbish that we have to put up with.

But it needs consultation and it will need leadership. The latter sadly lacks from local Government in Bucks.

#12 Matthew (MPJ/Admin)

Matthew (MPJ/Admin)

    Administrator

  • Root Admin
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,074 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 14 January 2007 - 12:48 PM

Have just checked the Bucks CC web site and Chiltern DC web site and cannot spot any obvious information about this issue. Perhaps Bucks CC would want to keep it quiet, but if CDC is under threat, should they not be making some sort of noise about all this?
Matthew P Jones
Web Master of www.amersham.org.uk and www.metroland.org.uk

Follow Amershan News & Views on Twitter

Amersham News Views & Information is also on Facebook


Don't forget to read the Forum Rules!

#13 Alan W

Alan W

    ALAN

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 175 posts

Posted 14 January 2007 - 01:02 PM

Have just checked the Bucks CC web site and Chiltern DC web site and cannot spot any obvious information about this issue. Perhaps Bucks CC would want to keep it quiet, but if CDC is under threat, should they not be making some sort of noise about all this?


Only recent comment has been in the Weekly Letter - Alan Goodrum has in the Bucks Free Press this week.

Its being discussed in Town Council and District Council at Meetings w/c 22nd January.

I understand from that column that the County Council has to submit its decision as to which route to take to the Government by 25th January !!!.

If it goes Unitary - then I can tell you that a vast number of the initiatives that we currently have under-way - will yet again fall by the wayside and volunteers that have been working on things like the Market Town Health Check and Visitor Strategies - will walk away in droves. The majority involved have little faith in County

#14 Zoom

Zoom

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 840 posts

Posted 14 January 2007 - 05:29 PM

This cannot be introduced without public consultation.... when there were discussions in Herts about a move like this there was a survey.... it is impossible for it to be introduced without public consultation.

Whatever views the councils take on these issues they can only represent a statement of the council's aspirations, which they will have to sell to their communities through a consultation process.

Clearly if all the councils concerned share the same view then it will be easier for them to introduce the change but if there are differences between them then it is simply not the case that the county takes priority. In fact in most instances where unitary authorities have come into being it has been a district council that has taken over the tier 1 responsibilities within their area rather than the other way round.

So my conclusion is that these discussions are simply the ongoing discussions that all councils have had since the legislation was introduced rather than specific implementation proposals.

#15 gizmo

gizmo

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 155 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Aylesbury
  • Interests:Currently finding a family house in Amersham.

Posted 17 January 2007 - 10:54 PM

Well I for one don't want to be governed from Aylesbury, Slough, or MK.

CDC are far from perfect - but are better than Aylesbury Vale. Amersham is not High Wycombe, or any of the others.

I am currently living in Aylesbury - but still own a house in Amersham. I was born in the Old Town 35 years ago.

Amershams environment is different from all these places.

I fear that a single regional (or North/South authority) will swallow up the towns political identity.

:blink:

I am not impressed. This may lead to an equivilent farce of merge the local NHS trusts into a "super" trust.

Money may be saved - but quality of life (services), the vulnerable, and needy will suffer (more than they do now).

Miles.

#16 Alan W

Alan W

    ALAN

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 175 posts

Posted 17 January 2007 - 11:14 PM

Well we won't have long to wait - as the County Council will make a decision at its Council Meeting tomorrow - whether to bid for a Unitary Authority (i.e Bucks CC rules all !) or whether to follow other routes that have been identified. The submission will be made to the Government by 25th January !!!.

This would be about the worst case of Public Consultation or Local Democracy that I can remember.

All indications are that possibly the Executive may not get the endorsement they want - to propose a Unitary Authority and therefore we need perhaps to understand better what the alternative options will be.

I will be attending the Bucks County Council Meeting tomorrow as a Member of the Public and representing the Amersham Action Group and I will be interested to hear what has to be said. No doubt I will have further posts on this Subject

ALAN W

#17 KevinR

KevinR

    Advanced Member

  • Moderator
  • PipPipPip
  • 379 posts
  • Location:Chesham Bois

Posted 17 January 2007 - 11:26 PM

Thanks Alan, I look forward to your update. With such short timescales (25th Jan), the quicker we hear about the decision the better. It may be a sham of a "Public Consultation" but this online forum is an ideal way to try to get some informed response in (and yet more thanks to Matthew for running this site and making it possible).

#18 David P

David P

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,762 posts

Posted 18 January 2007 - 12:04 AM

Money may be saved - but quality of life (services), the vulnerable, and needy will suffer (more than they do now).

I would just point out that services for the vulnerable and needy are mostly supplied by Bucks CC at present.

There is a great danger, in this and several other threads, of allowing emotion to get in the way of facts. This can ruin your whole argument.
David P

#19 Matthew (Admin/MPJ)

Matthew (Admin/MPJ)

    Advanced Member

  • Root Admin
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,234 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Amersham

Posted 18 January 2007 - 10:55 AM

I would just point out that services for the vulnerable and needy are mostly supplied by Bucks CC at present.

There is a great danger, in this and several other threads, of allowing emotion to get in the way of facts. This can ruin your whole argument.


Agreed. Bucks CC do provide good services, but that is not to say they should supply all services. In many ways some services are more practical and efficiently provided by a larger body than a local one. However, there is a huge danger of the service being too remote from the person that needs it, either by actual physical location or perception by the end user. Thus what is needed is debate and discussion to ensure all services are provided in the best way for as many people as possible. My gut reaction is that Aylesbury and Bucks CC are too remote for my needs and will concentrate on areas of little interest to me, but unless I hear arguments form those making the recommendations, I cannot say my view would not change.
Matthew P Jones
Web Master of www.amersham.org.uk and www.metroland.org.uk

Follow Amershan News & Views on src="http://twitter-badges.s3.amazonaws.com/twitter-a.png" alt="Follow Amersham News & Views on Twitter"/>

Amersham News, Views & Information Facebook Page

#20 David P

David P

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,762 posts

Posted 18 January 2007 - 04:17 PM

Agreed. Bucks CC do provide good services, but that is not to say they should supply all services.

That was not the point I was making (and I didn't say that Bucks provided good services - in fact, many would argue that social services, home care, etc are inadequate. But they are cash strapped and probably do the best they can).
All I meant was, that you cannot argue that services would suffer by moving everything to county level, when those services are already provided at county level.
If you want to make a good case to the council, the government or to anyone else, you cannot start by getting your facts wrong. If you do, you risk them not listening to the rest of your, valid, points.
David P

#21 Alan W

Alan W

    ALAN

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 175 posts

Posted 18 January 2007 - 05:13 PM

The decision has been taken and an Agreement is being signed by all involved that means that Bucks County Council will NOT be putting forward a proposal to Government for a Single Unitary Authority for Bucks.

The decision has been taken that the existing three tiers of Local Government will remain and will operate in a "Pathfinder - Enhanced Two Tier Status" - essentially with Amersham Town Council / Chiltern District Council / Bucks County Council as we have now.

There will however be changes, many changes perhaps and there will be some integration of services and shared activities between Councils as well as some Services as now run by Bucks. A lot of admirable sentiment expressed at the Meeting about doing their best for "all of the residents of Buckinghamshire" - but now the words will have to be put into actions. Certainly the Government pressure is to bring decision making and in some cases funds closer to the Communities they are supposed to be serving.

Whilst there is to be the establishment of a Joint Body to oversee all of the changes - and this has to be in place by July - some aspects may well take a lot longer to implement - and hopefully details of these will emerge over the next few weeks and months.

Clearly and hopefully - now that the Executive has a decision and they need not focus on lobbying to get there own ideas put in place - maybe their will be more time to let us - the residents of Buckinghamshire, know what is going on, how it will affect us and what services and performance standards we can expect. There has to be more joined up thinking - less duplication of effort, much less beaucracy and swifter responses to problems - whilst keeping Council Tax increases as low as possible. We all know that the Government gives the people of Buckinghamshire very little in contrast to many other Counties - but thats a fact of life at present and we will have to work with it.

Their dealing with us the residents of Buckinghamshire has to be much more open that it has been over recent weeks and months - when they have been pulling together these proposals. The utter lack of public consultation has been a disgrace.

#22 Alan W

Alan W

    ALAN

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 175 posts

Posted 18 January 2007 - 05:50 PM

For those who have the patience or who would like to know more - I have attached the Report of the Chief Executive of Bucks County Council. Remember the option that is being pursued is Pathfinder Enhanced Two Tier Status and NOT the Unitary Approach which he favoured.

The vast majority of Councillors voted for the approach (Conservatives, Labour and Lib-Dems) - there were no votes against and there were three abstentions (2 Lib-Dem and 1 Conservative)

Attached Files



#23 David P

David P

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,762 posts

Posted 18 January 2007 - 09:49 PM

For those who have the patience or who would like to know more - I have attached the Report of the Chief Executive of Bucks County Council. Remember the option that is being pursued is Pathfinder Enhanced Two Tier Status and NOT the Unitary Approach which he favoured.

The vast majority of Councillors voted for the approach (Conservatives, Labour and Lib-Dems) - there were no votes against and there were three abstentions (2 Lib-Dem and 1 Conservative)

How many politicians and management consultants did it take to produce that?
My reading is that 'Pathfinder' is the hardest option to achieve and 'Two tier' is the status quo with knobs on. So what is Pathfinder enhanced two tier status?
And I love the 'enhanced two' = three. That sounds like the ramblings of a particularly abstruse pure mathematician.
David P

#24 Eaton

Eaton

    Advanced Member

  • Moderator
  • PipPipPip
  • 3,490 posts
  • Location:Milk Hall Barns, Latimer Road
  • Interests:Animals, Birds, Reading, Crosswords, Suduko and Cross Stitch

Posted 18 January 2007 - 10:01 PM

Glad I turned down the offer of standing as a local Councillor. I don't have the temperament to deal with the bureaucracy, super inflated ego's or the mindset to read all these infernal documents and then mentally translate them into something that I can understand.

My previous paragraph does not mean that I don't support Alan W's (and other's) efforts, just that he/they do a far better job than I could.
Mel and Co

#25 Zoom

Zoom

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 840 posts

Posted 18 January 2007 - 11:29 PM

So this scary thread was for nothing...

A big for unitary status can only realistically proceed with the support of ALL the parties involved.

#26 Alan W

Alan W

    ALAN

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 175 posts

Posted 19 January 2007 - 07:36 AM

Glad I turned down the offer of standing as a local Councillor. I don't have the temperament to deal with the bureaucracy, super inflated ego's or the mindset to read all these infernal documents and then mentally translate them into something that I can understand.

My previous paragraph does not mean that I don't support Alan W's (and other's) efforts, just that he/they do a far better job than I could.


Please please note - I am not and never will be a politician - I am "A-Political" - I just hope that as a Member of the Community - I can assist in some way or other

#27 Eaton

Eaton

    Advanced Member

  • Moderator
  • PipPipPip
  • 3,490 posts
  • Location:Milk Hall Barns, Latimer Road
  • Interests:Animals, Birds, Reading, Crosswords, Suduko and Cross Stitch

Posted 19 January 2007 - 10:12 AM

Please please note - I am not and never will be a politician - I am "A-Political" - I just hope that as a Member of the Community - I can assist in some way or other

Sorry Alan, I wasn't clear. I didn't intend to imply that you were a politician, just that you have to work closely with them and read all their paperwork etc.
Mel and Co

#28 Fran

Fran

    Advanced Member

  • Moderator
  • PipPipPip
  • 5,206 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Amersham
  • Interests:Reading, writing about reading, theatre, film, restaurants, walking through woodland, Scrabble.

Posted 19 January 2007 - 05:12 PM

How many politicians and management consultants did it take to produce that?

Now we just have to wait for some politicians and/or management consultants to take the bait.... :lol:

#29 Zoom

Zoom

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 840 posts

Posted 19 January 2007 - 08:06 PM

Oh so this isn't about unitary status ?! It is about Pathfinder status.

More misunderstanding and miscommunication, although I have to say that both of those are endemic in the system.

#30 Alan W

Alan W

    ALAN

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 175 posts

Posted 26 January 2007 - 09:19 PM

The final submission by Bucks County Council on behalf of the District Councils was submitted yeserday to Central Government - which seeks what is called "Pathfinder Enhanced Two Tier Status Local Government.

For those of you who want to better understand what this means - there is a 38 Page Document which can be found at the following link (Its 4.3MB so takes some time to download)

http://www.chiltern....amp;fileID=1644

ALAN W