26 Feb 2015
Residents in Aylesbury Vale could get their chance to vote on whether they would like the district to become a unitary authority next year.
Any referendum would be dependent on AVDC being satisfied that it is viable to bring together county and district services into a single organisation for the district area.
At a meeting of full council on 25 February, councillors agreed to set aside up to £80,000 from unallocated reserves to investigate the move.
Currently, services in the district are provided by both AVDC – which does things such as street cleaning, recycling and waste collections and licensing – and Buckinghamshire County Council, which looks after roads, schools and social care. Most areas also have a parish or town council, many of which provide additional services.
The move to unitary status would see AVDC responsible for all county and district council services in Aylesbury Vale but it wouldn’t mean any changes to the historic/civic county of Buckinghamshire, nor to the parishes of the Vale.
Councillor Neil Blake, Leader of the Council, said: “Keeping the current county and district structure is not a viable option, nor the best way to serve residents and effectively manage a decreasing budget. What we’ve agreed to do is fully investigate the viability of bringing together all county and district council services to see if it would deliver better outcomes and better value for local people. We will provide information to residents as we pull together the business case because it’s important people can make an informed choice and we wouldn’t progress it any further without the support of residents through a referendum.”
Unitary local government for Aylesbury Vale would mean:
• Decision making would be more local and more focused on local needs
• Services currently provided by the two different councils but which are related (such as planning for major developments and transport) could be better coordinated
• Resources currently split between two councils would instead be combined to get the best deal for the district, and reduce confusion for residents
• The duplication which exists in the current two-tier system, for example managerial positions, would be reduced
Over the next six months an initial business case will be drawn up and the authority will gather the public’s opinion on the proposal and consult with key partner organisations such as the health sector and businesses.
The council would then make a decision in September as to whether the move to unitary status is viable and if so a date would be set for a referendum, most likely in late spring 2016.
Aylesbury Vale is the second largest district in the country with a population of almost 182,000. There are already over 20 existing unitary councils with smaller populations including Reading and Bracknell Forest.