A letter from Rachel Shimmin, Chief Executive

Dear Colleagues

Happy New Year. I hope you all enjoyed the festive break and are ready for what will be a busy year.

As promised I wanted to give you an update on the plans for the new unitary council. We have received final details from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) this week outlining the transition to the new council. The Secretary of State will lay a Structural Changes Order in Parliament with all of these details later this month, to take effect in March 2019.

As you know, we have been talking with the district councils and government about how we will come together and make this change. The Order will set out how the transition will take place and the details of the new council.

In summary the Order will include the following information about the new council:

  • That there will be a new unitary council for Buckinghamshire – called Buckinghamshire Council
  • The new council will replace the current five councils – Aylesbury Vale District Council, Buckinghamshire County Council, Chiltern District Council, South Bucks District Council and Wycombe District Council. These current councils will cease to exist after 31 March 2020.
  • The new council will go live on 1 April 2020
  • There will be 147 councillors of the new Buckinghamshire Council – three per current county ward.
  • Elections to the new council will take place in May 2020, then in May 2025 and every four years following.
  • There will be a Shadow Authority (like the Council), made up of all the current county and district councillors. The Shadow Authority will undertake specific functions associated with the creation of the new council including setting a budget for the new council
  • There will be a Shadow Executive (like Cabinet) that will consist of 17 county and district members. There will be eight members from across the district councils – two from each, and nine members in total from the county council.  The chair of this group will be the Leader of the county council.
  • There will be an Implementation Team that will manage the change to the new council. This will be made up of officers across the county and district councils and will be led by the Chief Executive of the county council.
  • There will be a programme team that will bring together the areas of work that will need to be completed to create a safe and legal new council for Buckinghamshire by April 2020. A Programme Director will be appointed shortly.

The order also references the importance of the children’s services improvement journey and that the Shadow Authority must have regard for the Children’s Commissioner report and that children’s services must not be adversely affected by the change programme.

These details will now be considered by the county and district councils at their respective cabinet meetings this week. Providing that at least one of the existing councils formally accepts the terms then the Orders will be laid before Parliament on 14 January and are expected to be approved by the end of March 2019. The county council cabinet discussion will take place on Thursday 10 January 8.30am. I would recommend you watch the webcast if you get the chance.

As you already know, Orders have already been laid by MHCLG to cancel the local district and parish council elections which had been due to take place in May 2019. Instead, elections for the new Buckinghamshire Council and parish councils will take place in May 2020 alongside elections to the new Buckinghamshire Council.

Message from your Chief Executive, Rachael Shimmin:

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to come together to improve services for all residents across Buckinghamshire. Whilst I appreciate some of you may be excited at this opportunity there may be others that are uncertain about the future. The new council will be built on the best of the current five councils and it is important that we retain the skills and expertise of our staff to ensure the new council is the best for the future. I look forward to working with our district council colleagues to make this a reality and will continue to keep you updated over the coming weeks.”

Rachael Shimmin

Sent by Internal Communications on behalf of Rachael Shimmin, Chief Executive