Spring update from County Councillor Anne Wight

Welcome to the spring update for Ivinghoe Division!

 

There is quite a lot going on at the moment, and I have tried to provide a summary of some of the key issues and changes around our division.

 

Local Government Reorganisation Update

As I am sure many of you know by now, on 1 November 2018 the Secretary of State announced that a brand new, single council for Buckinghamshire will be established on 1 April 2020. This is a great opportunity to improve services for residents, local communities and businesses. A single council will be simpler for residents to access the services they need, make better use of public money, and be more local to communities.

It is vital through the transition period to the new council that services continue as normal. The business critical transformational programmes and Medium Term Financial Planning savings must be delivered as planned and any decisions on new areas of work must be made with the new council in mind.

All service areas will be involved in the change programme although some will be much more directly affected than others. Services will need to be flexible in responding to the programme as it develops. Key for all of the five councils will be retention and engagement of employees who will be critical in ensuring that high quality services to residents and communities continue.

Over the next year all five councils will work together to support the effective and seamless transition to the new council.

Key Dates

  • New Council 1 April 2020
  • To minimise the impact on critical ‘business as usual’ activity.
  • Election for members to the new council 7 May 2020
  • To ensure there is continuity of service delivery to residents, communities, businesses and service users.

There will be an overarching programme of work to deliver this change and establish the new council. The programme will be overseen by county and district members. The priority is to establish a new council and deliver on the key commitments in the business case.

 

Early Help and Pitstone-Ivinghoe Children’s Centre Update      

 

On 4th March, Buckinghamshire County Council’s Cabinet agreed changes to Children’s Services which will mean a new Family Support Service and Early Help strategy for the county.

The recommendations for change were prepared following a recent public consultation, conducted by independent consultation agency BMG Research. This asked residents and organisations for views on how to deliver early help services to support children and families. The changes will take effect from September 2019.

The new integrated Family Support Service will consist of three area-based family support teams working in partnership with other organisations, particularly schools and health, to improve access to services and provide more joined-up services.

The service will include a network of 16 family centres across the county, which were previously used as children’s centres. It will also ensure that a further 19 buildings, which will no longer be used as children’s centres, will continue to be used for early years services and community benefit. The cabinet also agreed an Early Help Strategy, setting out the ambition of the service and how the Council and its partner organisations will work together.

Other key elements of the changes include:

  • A named key worker for each family who will create a team around that family to help them tackle the issues they face. This will help ensure they only need to tell their story once, to their key worker.
  • Investment in the Buckinghamshire Family Information Service website to ensure there is effective promotion of community activities together with information and guidance for families.
  • Open access to stay and play sessions for babies and toddlers at family centres.
  • Each school will have a named link family support worker to co-ordinate family support.

Hopefully, the new approach will allow for even greater focus on helping vulnerable children and families and on avoiding the escalation of their problems.

Thanks to resident input during the consultation period, the views of our residents were taken into account and so now BCC will be opening 16 family centres – two more than previously proposed. This is so ensure that we get the right professional support to children and families when they need it the most. The changes should enable BCC to support the most vulnerable children and families. I will be providing more details of this and to the repurposing of the Ivinghoe-Pitstone Children’s Centre within the community, as these become available.

 

 

Brexit Update

 

For the latest government updates as to how residents and businesses can prepare for Brexit, the government has issued detailed information on their website below.  Pet passports, driving abroad on holiday, and preparing your business for Brexit is all covered in detail and updated regularly.

 

https://www.gov.uk/world/brexit

 

For local businesses wishing for more information as to how they may explore the opportunities Brexit presents, there is also the Buckinghamshire Business First website.  Bucks Business First is a business-led, business-focused community for new, established and growing businesses across Buckinghamshire.  They provide support and guidance to grow businesses through a service which can provide tailored support from their team of experienced business advisers. Through the following services, a dedicated adviser can assist with planning and implementation for business growth strategies:

  • Face to face meetings, telephone and email backup
  • Growth-focused workshops
  • Investment readiness support
  • Referrals to other specialist advice and services

In addition, business can benefit from their team’s expert knowledge of local and national support and funding opportunities, which will help Bucks businesses to access the existing support networks and programmes relevant to their business.

https://bbf.uk.com

 

There is also a BBF webpage dedicated solely to Brexit and how business can best prepare for the various negotiation outcomes, as well as get support and advice on these issues.  This can be accessed on the link below:

https://bbf.uk.com/brexit

 

EU Settlement Scheme

 

To make people aware, if you are an EU citizen, you and your family members will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 31 December 2020. Further details of the process are available using the following link

 

https://apply-for-eu-settled-status.homeoffice.gov.uk/start/eu-settlement

 

Transport for Bucks Update

 

Our Division’s new Local Area Technician, Matt Whincup, has definitely hit the ground running!  I was very pleased to welcome him at the Local Area Forum meeting on 28 February, which was held in Ivinghoe Town Hall.  Matt has a lot of ideas as to how we can improve road surfaces, gullies, and Transport for Buckinghamshire’s response times on some of these issues through better internal networking and an innovative and proactive approach.  I know that our parishes will join me in welcoming him to Ivinghoe Division and I am sure that residents will be seeing quite a bit of him around the area as he undertakes his new supervisory role as our key TfB liaison.

 

I am pleased to say that this quarter in our division, TfB have improved road surfaces on the following roads, to name just a few!  Thanks to the milder winter and consequently fewer gritting runs, they were able to get an early seasonal start on filling in potholes and repairing road surfaces.

 

Albion Road, Glebe Close and Cheddington Road in Pitstone,

 

Church Road, Mill Road and Grove in Slapton,

 

Dunstable Road in Dagnall,  Slapton Lane and Eaton Bray Road in Northall,

 

Slicketts Lane and Leighton Road in Edlesborough,

 

Cheddington Road in Mentmore

 

Ledburn Road in Ledburn,

 

New Street and Church Lane in Cheddington,

 

Church Road, High Street and Ivinghoe Aston in Ivinghoe,

 

and Lower End, Lower Icknield Way and Long Marston Road in Marsworth to name a few!

 

In terms of the longer term plan, Cheddington High Street is my next designated large scale resurfacing project for the Capital Maintenance Programme.  I hope that this work can be done over the coming months, and I will provide more details of that once the schedule has been finalised.

 

The Brownlow Bridge

As I am sure most of you know by now, the Brownlow Bridge is likely to be subject to a Temporary Traffic Restriction Order (TTRO) weight limit of 18 tonnes from 23 April, 2019 for several months. This is due to the bridge having been damaged last spring and is the result of a Canal and River Trust recommendation as CART own the bridge and subsequently repaired it.

A diversion route for HGVs will be put in place in the short term, but in the longer term, it is uncertain as to whether the TTRO would become permanent or whether the bridge would be reinstated, among other possible options. For residents and businesses wishing to express a view on this, please get in touch via the email address below:

freight@buckscc.gov.uk

I will be keeping residents and parish councils informed as this issue develops.

Home to School Transport Update

Buckinghamshire County Council’s Cabinet recently agreed a series of changes to the way the county’s home to school transport service operates.  The recommendations for change were prepared following a recent public consultation which asked residents and organisations for views on how home to school transport services are delivered in Buckinghamshire. They were agreed by Cabinet on 4 March.

The changes aim to modernise services, making sure they remain high quality and are sustainable for the future. They will also address the unsustainable budget pressures which increasing demand on services has caused. Between April 2018 and November 2018, demand has increased budget pressure on this service from £1.4m to £1.9m.

Some of these changes will take effect at the start of the next academic year, in September 2019, while others are expected to be phased in over the next few years.

There will be no change to arrangements for more than 5,000 pupils who are eligible for free travel. The revisions only apply to children and young people who are not eligible for free statutory home to school transport.

The main changes are as follows:

  • How we provide school transport– Many school and public bus services currently duplicate routes. Starting from September 2019 we will aim to reduce this. We will work with service providers to make routes more efficient and offer children and young people more flexibility in their travel options. We will be working to ensure that routes are reliable; that children’s safety is prioritised in any arrangements; and that children will be assured of places on any public routes.
  • Phasing out two historic local transport arrangements- in Ivinghoe [relating to Cottesloe School and Tring School] and Evreham [relating to Chalfont Community College].

This means that parents in these two areas who choose a school which is not the nearest appropriate one for their child will be required to pay for transport. This brings these arrangements in line with the rest of the County meaning fair and consistent transport charges are applied to families. This will take effect from September 2020.

  • Charging for transport for pupils with SEND aged over 16– A contribution to the cost of home to school transport for children with SEND (who are older than 16) will be introduced from September 2019. This will replace the free transport offer currently in place. Costs for SEND transport have increased by over £3m in the last five years (from around £6m to £9m). Students with SEND who attend college can apply for a bursary to assist with costs.

Eligible children with SEND aged between 14 and 19 years old will be offered an increase in provision of independent travel training, which we expect will enable us to reduce transport costs.

While many families will be unaffected by the changes, BCC wants to ensure anyone who is will be managed in as fair and considerate a way as possible.

 

Fostering and Adopting with BCC

For anyone who is thinking about fostering or adopting, Buckinghamshire County Council is very happy to assist you throughout the assessment process and throughout the journey.  While a lot of people wonder if they might qualify for fostering or adopting—and worry unnecessarily that they might not—there are a lot of myths around this that BCC is committed to clearing up.

BCC’s teams have a great record of finding foster carers and adoptors from many different backgrounds and no one will be discriminated against on the basis of ethnic origin, gender, gender orientation, sexual orientation, age or disability.  If you would be interested in learning more about how you might help to transform the life of a vulnerable child through the provision of a safe and secure environment, why not come along to one of our information events or get in touch with us?

Our fostering events are informal. You can come along and speak to our fostering recruitment team and current foster carers.

We know that deciding to become a foster carer is not a quick decision. You are likely to have many questions about what it involves, what you need to do, and how it all works.

Our fostering information events are the place to help you start your fostering experience!

We give a presentation explaining:

  • what’s involved in the assessment process
  • the training and support offered to approved foster carers

You can ask questions and take away all the information you need. There’s no pressure to make any decisions straightaway. We simply want to make sure you have the opportunity to find out everything you want to know.

If you are interested in fostering, please get in touch.

Online: fostering enquiry form
Email: fosterwithbucks@buckscc.gov.uk
Telephone: 0800 160 1900

 

The National Paralympic Heritage Trust Heritage Centre Opening

I was very privileged to have attended the recent opening of the NPHT Heritage Centre on the 29th March at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement. Over 180 guests were welcomed to the launch on Friday where Sir Philip Craven, Paralympian, spoke of his wheelchair basketball experiences in the 1960s and Eva Loeffler shared fond memories of her father, Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann, the founder of the Paralympic Movement.

On Saturday the 30th March the centre was opened to the public. Diane Hands won the competition to cut the ribbon with guest Paralympian, John Harris. Visitors had guided tours around the centre; participated in ‘have a go’ Paralympic sport sessions; watched drama performances from ‘I Have a Voice Too’ theatre group; and listened to John Harris’s story of his gold medal win at the 1984 Paralympic Games.

The Paralympic Heritage Centre is open daily, admission is free and all are welcome. For more information about opening times, group tours and upcoming activities visit the website www.paralympicheritage.org.uk or contact the NPHT at admin@paralympicheritage.org.uk