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Declarations of Interest
Councillors B Gibbs and L Sullivan declared a personal interest in item 4: Implementation of the New Unitary District Council being Members of Buckinghamshire County Council.
On 1 November 2018, the Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), James Brokenshire, announced a decision in favour of a single new District Unitary Council, for the whole of the current administrative area of Buckinghamshire County Council, in a Written Ministerial Statement (WMS). The new authority would be implemented on 1st April 2020 and elections to the Council would take place on 7th May 2020. The statement included some matters already decided and others which he intended to consult on before reaching a decision.
The report sought approval to the process for agreeing the wording of representations to be made in response to the WMS. It also sought to ensure that sufficient resources were available to enable the authority to respond to the requirements of the proposed Structural Change Orders, which would set out how the new Council would be created, and to support transition within the Council.
The Leader, whilst presenting the report, proposed that the recommendations in the report be recommended to Council, subject to the words "other District Leaders" being inserted after the word "Leader" in recommendation 2.
The timescales for its implementation, set out by the MHCLG, were very short and a Joint Submission would be sent to the Secretary of State by all four District Authorities. Delegated authority was required for the Chief Executive in consultation with the Leader as there would not be enough time to call meetings.
Portfolio Holders were then asked for their views on specific items in the proposed Orders which were considered in turn.
The first proposal considered was the District and Parish Council elections, due to be held on 2 May 2019, being postponed to 7 May 2020, to avoid a term of office of only 1 year. A further proposal would be made that the next round of elections would take place in 2025 to align the cycles. Portfolio Holders were in agreement on this proposal.
The Secretary of State suggested in the WMS that there could be 3 Members per Electoral Division (totalling 147 Members), rather than the 2 Members per Electoral Division (totalling 98 Members) proposed by the County Council. A Boundary Review would be carried out once the new Authority was formed. Portfolio Holders discussed the size (number of Councillors) of the new District Unitary Council. Portfolio Holders agreed that democratic representation was an important issue, and a democratic deficit should be avoided by ensuring that there were sufficient Members to represent residents and to take on the work that would be required at the start of the new Authority.
In spring 2019 a Shadow Authority would be set up comprising of all District and County Councillors to carry out transition powers. A smaller Shadow Executive would be responsible for making day to day transition decisions. The representation of each Council on the Shadow Executive would be set out in the Order, and the view of the District Leaders was that there should be equal representation on the ... view the full minutes text for item 174.