Councillors have complained the latest development in Bucks’ journey towards becoming a unitary authority is “very disturbing” – as it is revealed that the leader of the county council will take the helm of a new “shadow” authority set up to steer the transformation.

In a letter to all five councils sent on January 7, secretary of state James Brokenshire confirmed a temporary ‘shadow’ authority will be formed, with all 202 current county and district councillors having a seat on the body.

The shadow authority will set the 2020/21 council tax and budget – and will be provided by a 17-seat shadow executive with the leader of the county council as its chairman, despite outrage from district councillors.

At an emergency cabinet meeting at Wycombe District Council on Wednesday night, councillors were furious with the decision, saying the new council was supposed to be a “fresh start” – but claimed it was instead becoming a “county council takeover”.

Cllr Alan Turner said he was “deeply disturbed” by the plan, adding: “I’m amazed at how the minister has decided to impose a leader when democracy should indicate that the individual should be elected by the members.

"I can’t see any logic as to why an individual should be imposed on us and I am strongly against our democratic right being usurped in this way.

“I am very uneasy about it. It has been clearly stated by the minister that this is a new council – it should be giving us the opportunity to start afresh and create a council we can be proud of. But this looks like simply a recreation of a larger county council in everything other than name. It is deeply disturbing."

Cllr Lawrence Wood said: “In what world should any resident of our nation be under the governance of a state-appointed individual – how is that democracy? He hasn’t been elected to this role, he was elected to the county council which is being dissolved. It is undemocratic.

“Why would the minister dissolve all five councils and then do this? The decision is all over the place. It is an extraordinary disregard for public opinion and the secretary of state doesn’t have the courage to put this in front of the public in the form of consultation.

“Perhaps they should use a more accurate title like lord-governor of Buckinghamshire, appointed by the state to enforce the will of the Crown.”

Cllr Gary Wood was also furious with the plans, adding: “There are five councils in Bucks and between those are good and bad things. The bad things, like adult social services, closing the rubbish tips, sit with the county council.

“This new council was supposed to be a chance to put everything into the melting pot and create something new and something good. Now we are looking at a county council takeover and that isn’t what residents wanted. The democracy deniers in Westminster need to get a grip. All we are going to get is more of the same.”

Cllr Suzanne Brown added that it was a “complete stitch-up” and a “disgrace” while Cllr David Johncock said it was “unconstitutional and undemocratic”.

Wycombe, Chiltern and South Bucks all agreed not to consent to the plans – but as long as one council does, the plans can push forward. And Bucks County Council has given the green light for them to continue.

Leader Cllr Tett said: “Timing to get the new council up and running is tight, so I’m asking the district councils to work with us on this for our residents and our staff to deliver the brand new council that Buckinghamshire deserves and make the most of the opportunities for all from this historic change.”

Fact file: 

The new council's name: The Buckinghamshire Council

Number of councillors on The Buckinghamshire Council: Three per ward - 147 in total 

Next elections: 2020, 2025, 2029 

How many members on the 'shadow' authority: All existing councillors - 202 

How many members of the shadow executive: 17 members - eight from the districts, eight from the county plus the leader 

Who will lead the shadow council: The county council leader - currently Martin Tett - with a district council nominee as deputy