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Buckinghamshire County Council News
Wycombe

Welcome to the September edition of Buckinghamshire County Council's newsletter keeping you up to date with our work in your area. We'd really appreciate your feedback on the content, what has interested you and what you'd like to see in future. Please email Adam King at aking@buckscc.gov.uk with your news and views.

Wycombe grotspot cleared with County Councillor's leaders fund

Huge amounts of fly-tipped rubbish have been cleared from a private site in High Wycombe by a county councillor using her allowances.

Much of the mess has now been replaced by shrubs after the clearance of 118 bags and two skips of waste on the land below advertising hoardings on the A40 opposite Wycombe Marsh Retail Park.

The work was funded by £960 from Cllr Julia Wassell’s County Council Community Leaders Fund and expenses.

“The site had been contaminated for over three decades by fly-tipping and littering,” said Cllr Wassell. “In places, the rubbish and fly-tipping was knee deep. This was largely metal and plastic but included; car tyres, paint pots, barbed wire, drink cans and bottles, plastic sheeting, prams, metal pipes and spikes, car parts, nuts and bolts, cigarette lighters.”

Phase 2 of the project will begin in October when bulbs and winter flowers will be planted. Passers-by have donated £25 towards baskets, and there will be further rubbish removal east to west. Sponsorship is currently being sought to investigate soil contamination.

Cllr Warren Whyte, Cabinet Member for Planning and Environment at the County Council, said: “Cllr Wassell’s use of her County Council allowances to fund this clearance scheme is a good example of how we can help local communities in ways that are not usually thought of being within this Council’s remits.”

New council would save millions and empower residents

Abolishing Bucks’ five county and district councils and replacing them with one new, single authority would provide better services and enhance local decision-making, while saving tax payers more than £18m a year.

That is according to a blueprint for the new ‘Buckinghamshire Council’ which has been approved by County Council members and which will be submitted to Government this autumn. If given the green light, the old councils could be abolished and the new Buckinghamshire Council created by 2019.

County Council Leader Martin Tett said: “A new council would be a fresh start for Buckinghamshire, designed from the bottom up to provide better, more locally-focused services. I’m particularly proud of our proposals to bring the council closer to local communities.”

Included in the proposals are:

Community Boards
Nineteen Community Boards would serve Buckinghamshire’s towns and villages, enabling local councillors to take decisions on issues such as funding for community groups and local roads maintenance. They would meet regularly in each area and the public would be encouraged to attend alongside town and parish councils, police, fire, and health organisations.

Community Hubs
Community Hubs in each of the 19 Community Board areas would provide a base for a number of public services, including the new Buckinghamshire Council. It means residents, particularly vulnerable people who might be unable to travel very far, would be able to access a wide range of services from a place that is local to them – all under one roof.

Parish/ Town Delivery Partnership
Parish and Town Councils would have the opportunity to take on more services and community assets if they choose to, from public toilets and parks to support for the isolated and footpath repairs.

For more information log on to www.futurebucks.co.uk

Bid to improve Wycombe's Cressex Business Park

A bid for more than £42 million of Government money has been made by Buckinghamshire County Council to fund five road and transport schemes, including in High Wycombe.

The major schemes, costing an estimated total of £58.4 million, are vitally important for the county's continued growth and economic prosperity, says Council Leader Martin Tett.

Included is a plan for road and sustainable transport improvements at Cressex Business Park, which would strengthen its place as south Buckinghamshire's principal industrial centre and secure its long-term commercial viability.

A decision is expected around the time of Chancellor Philip Hammond's Autumn Statement in November.

Martin, pictured above, said:  'Buckinghamshire is a fast growing county that contributes hugely to the national exchequer. It is essential that we bid for and obtain the money necessary for the infrastructure, such as transport, to support that growth. Our residents expect nothing less.'

The difference between the County Council's bid and each project's total cost will be met by developer contributions.

Unemployed find jobs thanks to Wycombe work scheme

Eleven long-term unemployed people were offered jobs in the care industry immediately after a four-week training course.

The success of the scheme has thrilled organisers, who say that some of the attendees had never held a job since leaving school several years ago.

The course, run at the Inspire centre in High Wycombe by Amersham & Wycombe College, was set up by Buckinghamshire County Council and the Department of Work and Pensions. It was run in partnership with the Connexions advice service and Amersham & Wycombe College, along with the care companies The Fremantle Trust, Heritage Care, and Home Instead.

Martin Phillips, the County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Engagement and Public Health, said: “This was the third such course we have organised and is the most successful to date. We are absolutely delighted with the fact it has helped so many people find work – and it has also helped fill vital posts, mainly looking after vulnerable people within care homes.”

Organ donation campaign after woman saves councillor's life

The County Council is actively encouraging its staff to join the organ donor register after a councillor's life was saved by a liver transplant.

It is urging thousands of workers to sign up to become donors as a tribute to the unknown woman whose liver saved long-serving councillor Bill Chapple.

Three years ago, Bill, now 63, was given roughly two weeks to live if a donor couldn’t be found for him.

“I was suffering from non-alcoholic cirrhosis caused by a fatty liver. and was told that if I didn’t have a transplant within roughly a fortnight it would be too late,” he revealed.

“Then a woman in her late 50s died suddenly and I was given her liver. I don’t know who she was because we are not allowed to know – but without her, I wouldn't have been able to give my daughter away in marriage, or meet any of my young grandchildren."

Pictured is Bill, left, with County Council leader Martin Tett.
'I needed a wee': Top 10 excuses for fly-tipping revealed

The top ten 10 excuses from litter louts for dumping rubbish in our beautiful Bucks countryside have been revealed - with one culprit claiming he simply 'needed a wee'.

The Joint Waste Partnership for Buckinghamshire published the list after bringing hundreds of fly-tippers to court in a ‘zero tolerance’ campaign over the last 13 years.

The top 10 excuses:

10. I know the person who works on the tip and they don’t like me, so when I saw them working, I drove on…
9. I sold my vehicle to some people who were quite intimidating actually…
8. It was my van, but I had lent it to this other man who is now not answering my calls… I think his name is Jim…
7. I saw other fly-tipped waste and thought the area was a recycling centre …
6. The waste fell off the back of my vehicle as I drove along …
5. I didn’t dump it – I was there, but I only stopped to do a wee…
4. My van was untidy and I needed to give my boss a lift so I cleared the rubbish out because I know he doesn’t like the van untidy…
3. I dropped my phone and there was so much rubbish in the car that I could hardly find it – I cleared the rubbish out so I could find the phone…
2. I met a man at the ‘dump’ who said he wanted it – can’t think why he then dumped it rather than taking it back to the ‘dump…’
1. I paid a man with a van to take it…
Autumn sees changes to Household Recycling Centres

As autumn arrives once more, there are some changes being made to Buckinghamshire County Council's Household Recycling Centre service.

As is usual, winter opening times at the Household Recycling Centres come into force on 1st October, and this year the winter opening times will be 9am to 4pm every day. This earlier winter closing time makes the service more cost-effective, as winter evenings are the least popular time for people to visit their Centre.

Since 2006, for some visits to the Recycling Centre – for instance when using a commercial vehicle or large trailer - you have to obtain a free permit. To make the permit system faster, more convenient and cost-efficient, it's now going fully digital, which means that instead of waiting for your permit to arrive in the post, you can immediately present your permit code to Recycling Centre staff using your mobile device, or take along a print out if you prefer.

Lastly, we're phasing out the old name 'Household Waste and Recycling Centre' in favour of 'Household Recycling Centre'. This doesn't make any difference to the types of material you can take along, but it does emphasise the most important role of the centres: helping to further improve recycling rates in Buckinghamshire, which are already well above the national average.

Buckinghamshire County Council Cabinet Member for Planning & Environment Warren Whyte said: "These changes reflect our drive towards efficiency in our waste services, while at the same time making the permit system faster and more convenient for users. The renaming of Household Recycling Centres marks our ongoing commitment to achieving the best environmental outcomes possible in Bucks through recycling, re-using and reducing our overall consumption."

Congratulations to Bucks' adult learners after GCSE results

The Council's Cabinet Member for education has congratulated the many adults who notched up excellent GCSE results at the end of last month.

Students aged from 20 to 66 years old, studying with Buckinghamshire Adult Learning, achieved some fantastic grades in the exams, and did both themselves and their tutors proud.

In all, 102 learners studied for GCSEs across the various centres in the county.

Impressively, 69% of these students achieved A*-C grades in English and 70% achieved A*-C grades in Maths - 9% higher than the national average.

The oldest learner achieved a B in maths at Quarrendon, Aylesbury, while learners at the Millbrook Centre in High Wycombe did exceptionally well, achieving 3 A*s in Maths and an A* in English.

Cabinet member Zahir Mohammed said: "This is a huge achievement for all of our learners, some of whom have often not had great experiences in the past. It should also be noted they studied for the exams while also working and looking after families."

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

Time to get active in Wycombe!

Did you know that 11.8% of the Wycombe population has high blood pressure, and 11.9% of adults are estimated to have pre-diabetes?

It's these kind of statistics which have driven the County Council to launch Active Bucks, a locally-based programme to create and promote fun and accessible keep-fit activities in your community.

Most sessions cost £2 - with some outdoor activities, such as guided walks, free. Many sessions have already started up, with more being added all the time during this year-long programme. All activities are aimed at beginners, and age or level of fitness isn't a barrier.

Residents in Bucks who want to try a new activity can use our new activity search website to find activities and once registered, can get a voucher to try the first activity session for free. Please visit www.activebucks.co.uk.

Website makes it easier to apply for school places

Families will be able to apply for a secondary school place on new ‘easy-to-use’ web pages following improvements to the County Council’s website.

The Council’s Find My Child a School Place online service is now live and officials are confident it will make it much simpler for people to apply online.

The site also has a webchat feature so families can ask for further explanation if the information they require is not on the website.

The new service has been designed to be mobile first – in response to the significant growth in mobile use of the main Council site.

For the new service, go to www.buckscc.gov.uk/findaschoolplace

Bucks' school funding on the agenda

Key issues facing the education system in Buckinghamshire - including some of the lowest-funded schools in the country - were on the agenda when the leader of the County Council met the government’s Minister of State for School Standards.

Tuesday's meeting between Martin Tett and Nick Gibb was arranged by Chesham and Amersham MP Cheryl Gillan and also covered high building costs, the government’s academy programme, the principle of extending Bucks’ grammar system and the challenge of making progress at the small minority of schools which require improvement.

Despite these issues, more than 90% of the county’s schools are either 'Good' or 'Excellent' according to education watchdog Ofsted, which Martin said was a credit to Buckinghamshire.

Martin said: “Nick listened, appreciated the problem and explained what the Government was doing to make school funding fairer across the country. He was also very supportive of our excellent schools.”

According to the schools allocation index 2015-2016, the seven secondary schools with the lowest funding in the country are (all figures below refer to funding per pupil):
1. Royal Latin School (£3,996)
2. Dr Challoner's Grammar (£4,068)
3. Aylesbury High (£4,093)
4. Aylesbury Grammar (£4,097)
5. Sir William Borlase's (£4,101)
6. Beaconsfield High School (£4,111)
7. Dr Challoner's High (£4,120)

Also in the bottom 10 per cent (out of around 3,000 schools):
  • John Hampden (£4,161)
  • Royal Grammar (£4,166)
  • Wycombe High School (£4,181)
  • Sir Henry Floyd (£4,197)
  • Chesham Grammar (£4,259)
  • Waddesdon Church of England (£4,353)
  • John Colet (£4,435)
  • Great Marlow (£4,449)
  • Cottesloe (£4,508)
  • Princes Risborough (£4,523)
  • Holmer Green (£4,528)
  • Chalfonts Community College (£4,528)
  • Burnham Grammar (£4,552)
  • Buckingham (£4,559)
Volunteers needed to help the unemployed

Volunteers are needed to spare an hour a week mentoring unemployed people to help them find jobs. Buckinghamshire County Council needs the mentors to lend a hand at the end of employment courses run by its Community Wellbeing Programme.

The courses are designed to give the unemployed new skills in care or construction or simply boost their confidence in the job market. Martin Phillips, Council Cabinet Member for Community Engagement and Public Health, said: “All we are asking for is for the volunteers to give an hour a week to help someone else achieve their education, training and employment goals. It’s only a small amount of time to give but may make all the difference in supporting them to find new opportunities to learn new skills or to apply for jobs that suit their lifestyle.”

Prospective mentors, who will be unpaid, will be trained and matched with an individual with similar background or experiences. If you are interested, contact Kat Johnston on 07747 476820 to find out more.

Scheme praised in national review ordered by David Cameron

A national review ordered by former Prime Minister David Cameron into the care of vulnerable children has praised a pioneering regional scheme co-ordinated by Buckinghamshire County Council.

The ‘Cross Regional Project’ was singled out as an example of best practice in Sir Martin Narey’s independent review of children’s residential care.

Sir Martin calculated the project - which was specially designed to improve the lives of children in care - is saving taxpayers across six authorities £1.4m a year.

The initiative aims to use the size and flexibility of the partnership to ensure young people in care are sent to homes in their local area, and it also provides them with specialist therapeutic services.

Buckinghamshire’s partners are: Oxfordshire, Herts, Milton Keynes, Bracknell Forest and Reading.

Pictured: Head of Children’s Care Services in Buckinghamshire, Simon Brown, with Emma Beech, Contract Director for Keys Childcare, which developed six local children’s homes as part of the project.

Community engagement officer appointed for High Wycombe

Meet the officer for Wycombe at Buckinghamshire County Council's newly created Community Engagement and Development Team.

Following the restructure, Korinne Leney will be overseeing the Wycombe Local Area Forum (LAF).

Originally from Canada, Korinne came to the UK to complete an Masters in Public Policy from King’s College London.

Having worked in independent and further education as a project manager and research consultant, Korinne joined the Community Engagement & Development Team just over a year ago. 

The LAF includes representatives from the county, district and parish councils, as well as partner organisations like the police and community associations.

Residents are encouraged to attend meetings to hear about what is happening in their local area and have their say on topics like parking, health, policing, transport and young people.

The next LAF meeting is on October 18 at the Wycombe District Council Offices, Queen Victoria Road, High Wycombe.

Useful contact: Korinne Leney, 01296 387572, koleney@buckscc.gov.uk
Copyright © 2016 Communications, All rights reserved.


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