The creation of a new Unitary Authority across Buckinghamshire, abolishing the districts and county council offers an opportunity to rethink what local government does and how it does it.
At Buckinghamshire County Council level there is currently chronic underfunding. The latest figures show that nearly 60% of its budget now goes on social services for both children and vulnerable adults. Even with that emphasis the County Council has ever greater difficulty delivering those services satisfactorily. The money left over for such important matters as ‘pothole’ filling and highway maintenance is insufficient.
If we want high quality local services, which I believe are desired by many, then we are going to have to pay for it. This requires us to consider raising more in local taxes. I favour allowing local authorities which are manifestly efficient, to do this with much greater flexibility than exists at present. I see this as the only way forward to the consistent delivery of better local services.