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Buckinghamshire County Council News - Buckingham and Winslow

Welcome to the November/ December edition of Buckinghamshire County Council's newsletter for this area, where your County Councillors are Warren Whyte (Buckingham East division), Robin Stuchbury (Buckingham West) and John Chilver (Winslow). Please email Adam King at aking@buckscc.gov.uk with upcoming events you’d like included. The next edition will be out in January.
 

Buckingham East division: Update from Councillor Warren Whyte

Buckingham town centre parking improvements
After a longer than expected process, the parking working group (comprised of town, district and county councillors) is pleased to note that the revisions in the town centre parking will be shortly proceeding through the formal process after being amended to take into account consultation comments.

Key changes include removing the loading bay by the Old Gaol and converting to additional short term parking, reducing the controlled parking hours from 8-6 to 9-5 which will make on-street parking for residents easier at the start and end of the day, and an additional disabled bay to be created near the central bus stand. Some new yellow lines will be added to parts of Western Avenue, Tingewick Road and Stratford Road to ease some pinch points from inconsiderate parking. The full report can be found here.
 
River Leck Catchment Feasibility Study
Following flooding in Leckhampstead in March 2016, I was pleased to support the county council’s Strategic Flood Management Team bid for £30,000 from the Environment Agency’s Regional Flood and Coastal Committee as part of a £40,000 study to investigate options for improvement the management of flood water in the River Leck catchment.

Communities in the catchment are at risk of flooding and there are safety issues with roads being flooded in area. The Strategic Flood Management team has appointed a consultant to work with them, the local community and local councillors to look at what the options might be and then identify the preferred option and where funding might be sought for implementing solutions. 

It is envisaged that solutions will come from a mixture of traditional engineering/drainage, natural flood management upstream in the catchment and resilience and warning within the community. A community event will be held on Monday December 5, from 7.45pm in Leckhampstead Village Hall.

A421 Fatal Incident           
Following the tragic incident on the A421 near the Thornborough junction, I have been in regular contact with the Transport for Bucks Network Safety Team. I have also been supporting the community petition to seek safety improvements to this junction. I have already requested a review of what can be done to improve safety at this junction.
 
Buckingham Street Lighting
In response to a number of concerns raised about the delay in commencing the street light repairs, I chased up Transport for Buckinghamshire (TfB) and they started work to replace a total of 222 street lighting columns in residential areas of Buckingham earlier this month. The aim is to complete installation of 80 columns before Christmas, and currently 37 have been installed with the service connection programmed to commence during the first week of December. The remaining lights are scheduled to be completed by the end of March 2017

 
Buckingham West division: Update from Councillor Robin Stuchbury
 
Buckingham residents are seeking traffic management improvements on Station Road, Chandos Road, Bourton Road and London Road. Transport For Bucks hasn't been able to progress these safety concerns, citing limited finances.

There has been an increase in requests for dropped kerbs to aid disability access and equality. With an ageing population demand will continue to grow and this needs addressing positively.

County highway officers have been making sure the snagging list of 278 works are undertaken on the Buckingham bypass and looking into adopting areas within the large Lace Hill development.

I've been joining our county officers at town and parish council meetings in my county division, informing them about the business case for a single unitary council in Buckinghamshire. The district councils have also released a scoping report into options for unitary.

The government continues to increase financial pressures on the council by cutting support for the school improvement service, leaving a funding gap at a time when Buckinghamshire County Council is seeking to narrow the attainment gap in failing schools.

Buckinghamshire County Council has made improvements in children's services. There will be an Ofsted inspection in the future. It's my opinion it's so important the council maintains funding levels to enable the recovery plan to be completed.

Elderly care and community health will be an increasing challenge to meet. In my personal opinion, I'm expecting changes in delivery will increase the percentage cost allocated to service users going forward, to fill the growing funding gap.

I'm looking forward to this year's Buckingham Christmas Parade on December 10 which is funded and supported by Buckingham Town Council.  Also, the Christmas light switch in Buckingham is funded by Buckingham Town Council whereas Aylesbury Vale District Council funds the Aylesbury town centre lights.

As we move towards 2017 seeing that the north Buckinghamshire villages are not forgotten is key. Developers continue to seek to try to develop our green fields, like the recent Tingewick development proposals on farm land. These pressures will continue until AVDC completes the Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan, which has been put out to consultation.
 
Winslow division: Update from Councillor John Chilver

The plans for a new station on the East West line at Winslow have taken another step forward with the planning application for the new station building which has been submitted to Aylesbury Vale District Council.  

At the September meeting of the Winslow Local Area Forum there was an informative presentation on the rail scheme as a whole. There will be a public consultation on the detailed plans in January 2017; construction work is anticipated to begin in 2019 and be complete by 2024 at the latest.  The full consultation plans should be available after Christmas and there will be a copy in Winslow library.

Linked to the new station at Winslow is the new footpath and cycleway along the A413 from Buckingham. Construction is making good progress and I am looking forward to seeing it completed soon. Many thanks to villages along the route for accommodating  the disruption of  the construction period. It is good to see some walkers and cyclists already making use of it.

The consultation period for the Vale of Aylesbury Plan concluded in September and the final Plan is being prepared for submission to the Government.  

I am concerned that Winslow is included as a possible site for a new settlement and expressed my opposition to this in my consultation response.

Finally one of my tasks as Cabinet Member for Resources is to drive forward our digital programme designed to make our website quicker and easier to use.  Two of our largest transactions (school applications and highways reporting) have recently been redesigned, leading to both cost savings and a better customer experience.

Find out more about health services at Buckingham meeting

Residents are being invited to come along to a public information event to find out from local GPs what is happening with health services in their local area.

The session at Buckingham Community Centre on Wednesday, December 7 at 6.30pm will outline and discuss developments in the health ‘locality’ in which it is being held.  It is being organised by NHS Aylesbury Vale and NHS Chiltern Clinical Commissioning Groups, the GP-led bodies who design and pay for the county’s healthcare.

It will include presentations from healthcare professionals about what’s going on in the local area to meet people’s health needs, and how this fits into wider plans across Buckinghamshire. People will be able to ask questions and contribute their views as part of the continuing dialogue between the public and health and care services across the county.

Lou Patten, Accountable Officer for Aylesbury Vale and Chiltern CCGs, said: “These may be challenging times for our health and care services, but they are also exciting ones. By working together we have the opportunity to improve the experience of our patients and the health outcomes for the county as a whole.  Please do come to our events to hear about our plans, ask questions and tell us your views.”

Leader opposes precept capping for town and parish councils

Government proposals forcing town and parish councils to hold costly referendums over increases in tax have been opposed by Buckinghamshire County Council.

Currently only principal authorities such as district and county councils must hold a referendum if they want to raise tax by more than two per cent.

However, the government held a consultation on introducing the same rules for town and parish councils with budgets of more than £500,000, and also that 'consideration is given' to extending the policy to all local councils.

In his consultation response, County Council leader Martin Tett said that it would be particularly unfair to extend the two per cent cap to smaller parish councils with very low budgets.

He  said: "This is absolutely not a blank cheque for parish or town  councils to make big council tax increases. It does however recognise that they carry out vital work in their local communities, at very little cost to the taxpayer.

"A key principle of localism should be that local people determine what needs to be spent and have to justify that to their own communities. If they judge local needs correctly then the community will support them. If they get it wrong then they can be thrown out of office at the next election.

"There is no need for costly referenda which can often cost local people more than the value of the proposed increase."

Baroness Scott explains why a new, single council for Buckinghamshire residents is best
Want more information on business case for single council?

We've put together a dedicated website, www.futurebucks.co.uk which explains in plain English our plans to improve local services and save taxpayers millions of pounds.

The website outlines proposals to scrap Buckinghamshire County Council and the four district councils and replace them with one, entirely new county-wide council.

This would save more than £18m a year.

It would also be much simpler for people to access all council services using one website and telephone number, create better, more joined-up services and empower residents in their local communities.

The website includes a full resource for town and parish councillors and other interested parties, outlining in detail how our plans, which have been submitted to the government, would affect them.

The video above shows Baroness Scott, leader of Wiltshire Council, explaining the impact unitary has had in Wiltshire. The microsite contains case studies from both Durham and Wiltshire.
 

Conference for town and parish councils over unitary plans

A conference for town and parish councils has been organised by Buckinghamshire County Council to explore in detail the future of local government in the county.

The event, called Working Together For Buckinghamshire, takes place in Aylesbury on December 12.

It will include workshops for town and parish councillors to hear from other councils whose areas have gone through a reorganisation of local government as well as to discuss aspects of the County Council’s business case to abolish the five county and district councils and replace them with a new, single unitary council.

The conference will be addressed by Ken Browse, Chairman of the National Association of Local Councils, while County Council leader Martin Tett and Chief Executive Rachael Shimmin will also speak.

The event is completely free to attend and will run from 2.30pm to 7pm, with registration from 2pm, at the Waterside Theatre, Exchange Street, Aylesbury HP20 1UG. 

Parish and town councils can register for the event here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/working-together-for-buckinghamshire-town-and-parish-council-conference-tickets-29330898507

If you experience any problems registering on line, please contact Margret Haggerty either by emailing communities@buckscc.gov.uk or calling 01296 387112.

For more information see http://futurebucks.co.uk/conference/

Help us plan budget priorities for next year

People across Buckinghamshire are being asked to help the County Council make important spending decisions about next year’s budget.

The online consultation, which runs until Sunday 8 January, aims to get local people involved in helping to decide which areas of the Council’s work future spending should be focused on.

The short survey which only takes a couple of minutes to complete can be accessed at www.buckscc.gov.uk/budget

Martin Phillips, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement, said: “Every year we face challenging decisions about how to allocate our budget and we need your input to do this. Ultimately the decisions we make will impact on you in some way so it is important that you take the time now to tell us what is important to you."

People who don’t have access to the internet or a computer can still take part in the consultation by visiting any of the county’s libraries and using the computers there for free.

New HS2 mitigation secured by County Council

A raft of new measures to reduce the impact of HS2 has been won by Buckinghamshire County Council.
 
The mitigation was secured after intense negotiations with HS2 Ltd in the days running up to County Council leader Martin Tett’s appearance at the House of Lords in October.
 
The package includes:
  • £16,500 towards the costs of relocating footpaths in Steeple Claydon.
  • A promise to produce an area specific travel plan for the vicinity of Infrastructure Maintenance Depot.
  • The relocation of the road access to Great Moor Sailing Club to ensure there is no impact on the number of parking spaces or berths.
And it is hoped that peers on the HS2 Select Committee will demand further mitigation in Bucks when they release their recommendations in the New Year.
 
The new measures are in addition to those won during the House of Commons’ Select Committee back in January.
 
Martin said he was proud of the way the county had worked with district, town and parish councils to present a convincing case for extra mitigation.
 

Energy plant officially opened by Duke of Gloucester

The Greatmoor Energy from Waste (EfW) plant was officially opened by His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester on October 27.

Buckinghamshire County Council, together with partners FCC Environment which manages the plant on their behalf, welcomed the Duke to the recently-built facility which has revolutionised the way the council deals with the county's waste.

The Duke toured the plant, and was able to hear from many of the people involved in the project about the state-of-the-art green technology behind the energy from waste process, and how the new facility allows Buckinghamshire's unrecyclable waste to be turned into electricity rather than being dumped into landfill.

Buckinghamshire County Council Cabinet Member for Planning & Environment Warren Whyte said: "The Duke's visit really does emphasise the great importance of this project to our county, both environmentally and financially - not only does Greatmoor generate renewable energy from the county's waste, but it also stands to save local taxpayers £150 million over the lifetime of the contract." 

Bucks supports 'brake before the bend' message

Transport for Buckinghamshire is supporting the national 'Think! Country Roads' campaign to help boost awareness of safer driving on the county’s rural roads, particularly on approaches to bends.

The campaign's message is ‘brake before the bend, not on it’.

In Buckinghamshire in 2015 there were 14 people killed and 113 seriously injured on country roads. These 14 fatalities equate to two thirds of all road deaths in 2015 within the county. The primary causes of these collisions were failing to look properly at junctions, poor judgement of speed and loss of control on bends.

Mark Shaw, Cabinet Member for Transportation at Buckinghamshire County Council, said: "The Think! Country Roads campaign aims to get drivers to anticipate the hazards that may lie ahead and reduce their speed into bends, with the key message ‘brake before the bend, not on it’ as you never know what may be just around the corner."

Two year old having flu nasal spray
Video: The pain-free way to protect your children from flu

The flu vaccine is now available in nasal form from your GP for all children between the ages of two and four.

Look out for your child’s invitation, alternatively contact your GP to arrange an appointment. The vaccine is also available for children in school years one and two (ages 5- 7 years old) which will be administered by the school nurse.

It is recommended that children should be immunised every year because the main flu virus changes each year, in the same way as the injectable flu vaccine. 

Flu can be very unpleasant for children. They have the same symptoms as adults – including fever, chills, aching muscles, headache, stuffy nose, dry cough and sore throat lasting up to a week. Occasionally complications can occur leading to hospitalisation or even death from flu.

The video above shows a local mum explaining why she got her son protected.
 
Get Ready for Winter campaign launched

The Government has launched its Get Ready for Winter campaign, which has advice and guidance to keep people safe.

The campaign includes a website with lots of useful information about travelling in cold weather, staying well and protecting your property.

The government is also giving advice to town and parish councils, including on emergency planning.

In a letter to town and parish councils, Andrew Percy MP, Minister for Resilience, said: "Town and parish councils are an important and highly visible part of the fabric of so many of our communities and I have been reflecting on my personal experience as a parish councillor and a local volunteer working to make sure my own community is resilient to severe winter weather.

"There is a lot of good local community resilience planning already happening and I’m keen to share these examples, so please contact my officials at Resilience-SPA@communities.gsi.gov.uk with your own experiences."
Transport for Bucks shows true grit ahead of winter

The fleet of gritters has been serviced; the salt barns are fully stocked and Transport for Bucks are ready to go!

Our gritters have access to 10,500 tonnes of salt, which is held in our salt barns located across the county.  Each full precautionary gritting run, which covers 1,405 km (44%) of the road network, uses approximately 80 tonnes of salt. 

The salt was ordered back in the summer to ensure TfB maximised the advantages of salt availability and protection from expected price increases.

The army of 25 gritters can be tracked, by name, online. You can see 'Mitten', 'Mr Sprinkle' and 'Lambourgritti' as well as the rest of the fleet as they carry out their duties across the county in real time. 

Full information on our winter service, including advice on travelling safely during winter, can be found on our website – http://www.buckscc.gov.uk/transport/were-working-on-it/winter-maintenance/

The picture above shows the High Wycombe fleet ready for action.

Adult Learning is top of the class

Buckinghamshire Adult Learning has again achieved excellent results in a national employer satisfaction survey, with a rating 12% above the national average on two key questions.

The FE Choices survey, which asks employers about their apprenticeship training providers, is carried out by the Government-sponsored Skills Funding Agency.

Buckinghamshire Adult Learning achieved 92% on the question ‘Would you recommend this provider to another employer?’ and 90% on the question ‘How satisfied were you with the overall quality of training?’, results which rate them 12% above the national average.

Zahir Mohammed, Buckinghamshire County Council Cabinet Member for Education & Skills, said: "A good apprenticeship can set someone on a firm career path, and is really valuable to the employer too – so congratulations to the Adult Learning team for another great result in this latest satisfaction survey, which highlights the excellence of the service they provide to both apprentices and their employers in Buckinghamshire."

For more information about the courses, call 01296 398957 or 01494 778203 or visit www.adultlearningbcc.ac.uk

County Councillors volunteer for lollipop patrol

Two county councillors are donning yellow jackets and volunteering to be school crossing patrollers.

Paul Irwin and Phil Gomm have had their half-day training from supervisor Georgina Longley, and are ready to help children across the county's busy roads on their school journeys.

Paul, who is Deputy Cabinet Member for Transport, said: 'I think this is what you call putting our money where our mouth is! My concern is that we make sure the children in our county can cross roads safely on their school journeys.'

Across the county's 55 patrol sites there are currently 10 patroller vacancies: four in Wycombe, and one each at Beaconsfield, Stoke Poges, Great Horwood, Buckingham and Whitchurch. There is also a vacancy for a roaming relief patroller.

Call 01296 383432 if you're interested in being a patroller.

To subscribe to this email contact Adam King aking@buckscc.gov.uk

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