Joint statement from District Councils regarding legal proceedings

Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe District Councils have today joined forces to action formal proceedings regarding the establishment of a new unitary council for Buckinghamshire.

The district councils support change for Buckinghamshire and are working with colleagues at the County Council to take forward the decision of the Secretary of State to create one new unitary council for Buckinghamshire.

However the district councils were very disappointed with the recent decisions by the Secretary of State which they believe take away the democratic oversight of implementation by the elected members representing the majority of people in Buckinghamshire.

Specifically the three councils have concerns about the lack of local consent, about recent changes to the proposed democratic arrangements and a lack of reasons given for making those changes. The result of these changes is that the proposed orders will result in a lack of democratic oversight.

Last Friday, (18/1), Chiltern and Wycombe District Councils wrote to the Secretary of State as a preliminary step to legal proceedings.

The councils have now decided to go ahead with these legal proceedings and following a discussion at an Extraordinary Meeting of Cabinet today, South Bucks District Council also decided to participate in legal action.

In a joint statement, Councillor Isobel Darby, Leader of Chiltern District Council, Councillor Nick Naylor, Leader of South Bucks District Council and Councillor Katrina Wood, Leader of Wycombe District Council, said: "We are taking this step in a bid to ensure we create the best possible new council for Buckinghamshire.

"We take this step with great reluctance but we feel the Secretary of State has left us with no alternative. We have a duty to act in the best interests of our residents and that means we must ensure that the new council is created in a way that is democratic and fair.

"The legal action is not intended to frustrate the process of creating a new council. We have been working with our district and county colleagues and will continue to do so. Our aim is to build an excellent, brand new council, based on strong partnerships with all the other Buckinghamshire authorities, so that we can provide the very best services for our communities for many years to come."