Momentous first meeting of the Shadow Authority
The inaugural meeting of the Shadow Authority to create the new Buckinghamshire Council took place on 3 June at Adams Park.
The Shadow Authority brings together all current county and district councillors, meeting for the first time in their role to oversee the creation of a brand new council for the county. It is made up of 236 council seats from across the five existing council, 202 councillors taking into account those who are both county and district councillors.
At the meeting members agreed to elect Cllr Richard Scott as Chairman of the Shadow Authority with Cllr Peter Strachan as Vice Chair. They also agreed to a constitution for the Shadow Authority.
Cllr Richard Scott commented: “The first meeting of the Shadow Authority is a truly momentous occasion. Although I couldn’t attend in person I would like to thank members for supporting me in taking up this role and I look forward to us all working together to ensure the very best new council for our residents.”
Vice Chair Cllr Peter Strachan chaired the meeting and said: “Seeing all the councillors from across the five councils together for the first time brought to life what a huge opportunity this is for Buckinghamshire. It was fantastic to see the enthusiasm for what the future will bring for us all, but most importantly for our communities and I’m hugely honoured to be a part of it.
“There is a lot of work to do before 1 April 2020 to ensure key senior staff appointments are made and to set the budget for the new council. It is important we address both the opportunities and challenges we face together.”
During the meeting, the Shadow Authority also confirmed the membership of the Shadow Executive; 17 members from across the five existing councils, who will take key decisions on plans to create the new council over the coming year. The Leader of the Shadow Executive is Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council. The Deputy Leader of the Shadow Executive will be a member of one of the district councils, and will be confirmed at the first meeting of this group. None of the members of the Shadow Executive will receive additional allowances for this role.
The first meeting of the Shadow Executive will take place on 11 June, 10am at County Hall, Aylesbury.
Cllr Martin Tett said: “This historic meeting is the start of momentous change, as the five current councils unite in their commitment to working together to create the brand new Buckinghamshire Council ready for 1 April 2020. It is going to be a challenging journey, but we will all be working hard to make it a smooth transition, reducing confusion and creating more joined-up services.”
Councillors were also consulted on the proposed interim appointments for the Shadow Authority:
- Interim Head of Paid Service – Rachael Shimmin, Chief Executive, Buckinghamshire County Council;
- Interim Section 151 Officer – Richard Ambrose, Director of Finance and Procurement, Buckinghamshire County Council;
- Interim Monitoring Officer – Catherine Whitehead, Head of Democratic, Legal and Policy, Wycombe District Council
These roles will be formally appointed at the first meeting of the Shadow Executive and have been put in place to cover the interim period until permanent appointments are made to the new Buckinghamshire Council later this year. Those appointed to the interim roles will continue to work in their existing roles within their local council alongside their new, unpaid roles.
The Shadow Authority also agreed to the next meeting which will take place in February 2020 and will set the 2020/21 budget and council tax for the new council.
Under the constitution that was agreed at the meeting, the Shadow Authority will establish a cross-party Overview and Scrutiny Committee, with councils nominating a specified number of councillors in accordance with political balance. The committee’s main role will be to scrutinise and have overview of the budget and the transition to the new council, although other matters may be referred to the committee. Further details on scrutiny arrangements can be found in the Constitution document on the Shadow Authority website.
Full details of the Shadow Authority and Shadow Executive, including dates, agendas, webcasts and records of public meetings can be found at shadow.buckinghamshire.gov.uk.