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The Transfer of Linslade to Bedfordshire

Bryant Map of Buckinghamshire of 1824 - Linslade boundary coloured yellow
Bryant map of Buckinghamshire of 1824 - the Linslade boundary coloured yellow

Linslade was transferred from Buckinghamshire to Bedfordshire on 1st April 1965, losing its parish status (as did Leighton Buzzard) and becoming part of a new civil parish of Leighton-Linslade. The idea had been mooted as far back as the 1920s but the impetus for the change was a Local Government Commission planning exercise which resulted in the Report and Proposals for the East Midlands General Review Area presented to the Minister of Housing and Local Government in July 1961. The text of the report is set out below [CDP72/1]:

Leighton Buzzard and Linslade

Description

257. Leighton Buzzard urban district in Bedfordshire and Linslade urban district in Buckinghamshire lie on either side of the river Ouzel, which forms the boundary between the two counties. The two towns are to all intents and purposes one community for business, shopping and social activities and share some local government services; for example, the fire engine is in one district and the ambulance in the other. A fair number of the councillors of both are qualified to sit for either, as they live in one district and carry on business in the other. Linslade, the smaller of the two (it has a population of under 4,000 compared with Leighton Buzzard's 10,000), is dependent on Leighton Buzzard for many facilities; for example, it has no cinema, no bank, no chemist and no library. The railway station is in Linslade, but is called Leighton Buzzard.

Suggestions from the Local Authorities

258. Leighton Buzzard Urban District Council proposed that the two towns, with a small part of the surrounding rural area, should be combined to form a single county district in the administrative county of Bedfordshire. This proposal was not actively supported by Bedfordshire County Council who, however, committed themselves to the view that the two towns were a single community and operated as one for everything except local government; that the district and county councils worked well together in providing services for the area; and that if we decided to unite the two towns they should become part of Bedfordshire. Buckinghamshire County Council opposed the suggestion; they said that Linslade was the administrative centre for a large area of Buckinghamshire and that its future lay in becoming the headquarters of a new rural district made up of Linslade, Wing rural district and part of Winslow rural district.

259. Linslade Urban District Council had attended a joint meeting with Leighton Buzzard Urban District Council in February, 1959, at which a resolution was passed that both districts should be in the same county; the resolution was not ratified by Linslade in view of the results of a referendum organised by Buckinghamshire County Council which showed that many Linslade people wished it to remain a separate urban district in Buckinghamshire. Linslade said that the flood land of the Ouzel formed a perceptible green belt between the two towns; that they had their own shopping centre; and that the few local government services operated jointly did not in fact involve a great deal of time-wasting consultation. Leighton Buzzard's suggestion was also opposed by Wing Rural District Council on the grounds that Linslade was the centre for secondary modern education for some of the villages in the rural district and that any future expansion of Leighton Buzzard should be to the north.

Draft Prposals

260. In our draft proposals we said that Linslade urban district should be transferred from Buckinghamshire to Bedfordshire in order that the two communities might be brought together under one administration.

261. Bedfordshire County Council and Leighton Buzzard Urban District Council agree with our draft proposal. Buckinghamshire County Council  adhered to the view that there should be no alteration to the county boundary but said that if the two towns were to be joined, they should be in Buckinghamshire. Linslade Urban District Council now agreed that the two towns should be in one county but thought that the county should be Buckinghamshire and that part of Luton rural district as well as Leighton Buzzard should be transferred. If, however, we adhered to our draft proposals, certain minor adjustments in the boundary with Wing rural district would need to be made.

262. At the Bedford conference, Buckinghamshire County Council said that Linslade was a focal point in their administration for the surrounding rural area, the nearest other town being Aylesbury; Bedfordshire were not faced with a similar problem as the rural district round Leighton Buzzard was administered from Luton. Leighton Buzzard Urban District Council said Linslade would be a smaller loss to Buckinghamshire than their area would be to Bedfordshire, especially if Luton became a county borough. Linslade did not think that they should be transferred to Bedfordshire simply as compensation for the loss of Luton. While they agreed that the two towns should be in the same county, they were not entirely convinced that they ought to be combined - although they realised that this was probably inevitable once they were in the same county.

Proposals for Leighton Buzzard and Linslade

263. We propose that Linslade urban district should be transferred from Buckinghamshire to Bedfordshire with a minor adjustment to the boundary between Linslade urban district and Wing rural district.

264. Although Linslade and Leighton Buzzard have grown up in different counties there is a strong community of interest between them and it has already been found convenient to provide services jointly for the two towns. We do not deny that these joint arrangements work harmoniously at both county and district level. But the consultation involved in joint working inevitably causes delay and in the other services there is an unnecessary duplication of effort. It would clearly make more convenient and effective local government if the two towns were under one administration, and we think that this is the view of all the authorities concerned, except perhaps for Buckinghamshire County Council. Linslade is the smaller of the two communities; its loss would be a negligible effect on Buckinghamshire's population and rateable value and we do not think that it is essential that it should remain in Buckinghamshire as a base for county services. We consider that the balance of advantage lies in the combined town being in Bedfordshire rather than in Buckinghamshire.