Buckinghamshire Councillors Report – 26 May 22

Buckinghamshire nears top of the table in planning enforcements
A recently published table shows that Buckinghamshire Council is the second most active council outside London and the seventh most active in the country in issuing planning enforcement notices.  The table, produced by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) monitors and ranks councils by the number of planning enforcement notices they issue. It reveals that some areas are more active than others in issuing legal notices for contravention of planning rules and that 35 councils issued no notices at all. A planning enforcement notice is a legal document which is issued when there has been a breach of planning control that cannot be resolved through negotiation and is so serious that it requires formal action. It sets out what steps need to be taken to resolve the breach. In 2021 the team at Buckinghamshire Council investigated 1,675 new cases and issued 65 planning enforcement notices.  In the last year, breaches in Buckinghamshire have included unauthorised residential extensions, changes of use, untidy land, airport parking and illegal works to listed buildings.
Bucks residents offered discounted home composting equipment
Buckinghamshire Council is offering residents discounts of up to 40% on home compost bins, hot composters and food waste digesters. Many of these items are made from recycled plastic and all of them are made in the UK.   Composting is an inexpensive, natural process that transforms your kitchen and garden waste into a valuable and nutrient rich food for your garden. Compost is easy to use and a home composting bin can divert around 150 kg of organic waste per year from disposal per household.   Inspired by International Compost Awareness Week (1-7 May), Buckinghamshire Council is also offering an ‘Introduction to Home Composting’ webinar hosted by UK charity Garden Organic.   During the free one-hour webinar, residents will find out the:   Benefits of home composting Composting process Bin types and methods Uses of compost in the garden Benefits to the environment Answers to common composting questions   The webinar will take place on three dates:   Session 1Friday 6 May at 1pm Session 2Wednesday 25 May at 7pm Session 3: Thursday 16 June at 7pm   You can also pick up a discounted composter or food waste digester at our Recycle for Bucks website.”   For more ways to reduce your carbon emissions and to help the environment, please see the Bucks Climate Challenge webpage.
Play Streets scheme launches in Bucks
Children across Bucks are being given the opportunity to play safely outside on their doorstep through a new scheme that’s been launched by Buckinghamshire Council. Neighbours can now apply for a Play Streets session to close their road for a few hours at a time, so that communities can come together and children can meet up and have fun outdoors. Play Streets already take place in many other areas across the UK and have proved very popular, encouraging children to get active in the fresh air and also helping to tackle social isolation by connecting neighbours. The scheme first started in Bristol through the national organisation ‘Playing Out’. Two trial events took place in Aylesbury and High Wycombe and children enjoyed being able to scoot and cycle on their street, while adults chatted and got to know each other. Gareth Williams, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration, commented: “We’re delighted to bring Play Streets to Bucks. Many of us will remember playing out on the street when we were younger, but lots of children just don’t have that opportunity now. Play Streets gives them that freedom again, to grab their bike or skipping rope and make friends outside their front door.” Emma Bornebroek organised the Play Streets trial event in High Wycombe and found it really helped bring her neighbours together. She said: “Our road can be quite busy with traffic and so it’s not possible for children to play on the street. Being able to close it for a few hours made a huge difference and the kids had a fantastic time playing. It was also great for adults to meet up and connect with people they hadn’t met before or seen for some time due to the Covid pandemic.” Residents can apply to see if their street is suitable for a Play Streets session on Buckinghamshire Council’s Play Streets webpage – and there is more information about the scheme on the national Playing Out website.
Buckinghamshire Council announces fresh financial support package for residents in need
Buckinghamshire Council has finalised a new package of support for residents facing financial hardship and who are struggling with rising bills and costs.   The Council has already announced additional measures it’s put in place on top of the government’s national council tax rebate scheme. As well as that help, today Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet has finalised how it will allocate a further £2.4 million of funding from the Government’s Household Support Fund, to help residents struggling to pay bills and buy food.   Residents facing severe financial hardship can contact the council’s Helping Hand service which can:   help with energy, cooking, lighting and water bills support with food costs through vouchers pay for household essentials such as sanitary products, boiler servicing, warm clothing costs   £880,000 of the funding has been allocated to provide food vouchers to families in need, including covering children’s meals during school holidays if they are eligible for free school meals during term time. These digital food vouchers will also be available for Afghan and Ukrainian families who’ve arrived in Buckinghamshire as a package of wider support for these families under Helping Hand.   The Household Support Fund package is designed – through Helping Hand – to help families with children, pensioners and other vulnerable households who are struggling with paying for the basics of food, clothing and heating.   This new wave of Helping Hand funding comes on top of extra support the council is giving to residents who may not be in crisis but who are still struggling with the sharp increase in household bills.   The £150 council tax rebate is now being paid to eligible households (council tax bands A-D) across Buckinghamshire as part of the national scheme to offset the cost of energy bills – the Buckinghamshire scheme has been designed so the funds can be issued as quickly as possible and this is now happening sooner than in some other council areas On top of the national council tax scheme, the council has introduced its own scheme and is making £150 payments to eligible residents who live in Bands E-H who are in receipt of certain benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance Under a further strand of Buckinghamshire Council help, the council is also topping up payments under both schemes through the Helping Hand programme, meaning some residents will also be eligible for an extra £25 payment on top of the other payments.   The council is also providing extra support for families during the school holidays through its HAF (holiday activities and food) scheme, ensuring families have access to quality food and care outside of term-time.   We are working closely with a number of local organisations to ensure support is there for all who need it, from general financial advice, to those who sadly have been pushed into severe hardship. We know people need different levels of help at the moment, that we’re all feeling the pinch and our aim is to help as many Buckinghamshire households as possible who are experiencing varying amounts of financial pressure.”   For the full breakdown of how Buckinghamshire Council is allocating the Household Support Fund, please go to: https://buckinghamshire.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s42765/Government%20funding%20supporting%20Buckinghamshire%20Residents%202022-05-10%20v1.3%20-%20Cabinet.pdf   For Helping Hand queries please call 01296 531 151 – this line operates Mon – Thu 9am – 5:30pm and Fri 9am – 5pm.   You can also use the online contact form on the Helping Hand webpage: www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/helping-hand.   For information on the council’s HAF (Holiday Activities and Food) programme please go to www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/haf   For general advice on money matters, go to www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/backontrack       

Buckinghamshire Council takes steps to secure more affordable housing in the county Buckinghamshire Council is taking proactive steps to tackle the challenges around delivering enough affordable housing in Buckinghamshire. As a key priority for the council, the council’s Cabinet has, this week, agreed an affordable housing position statement and committed to some specific actions. These include exploring the viability of piloting of an affordable housing development on disused council owned sites to help increase the delivery of affordable housing.   Over the next 12 months, as well as exploring the piloting of an affordable housing development using one of its own disused sites, Buckinghamshire Council will:   work closely with house builders and use planning obligations to maximise delivery of affordable housing on all new sites. Developers who apply for planning permission for homes have to supply a percentage of affordable homes within their development. On average, this system has delivered 643 new affordable homes in Buckinghamshire each year. work closely with Registered Social Landlords to support them to deliver their development plans and also use s106 funds and other enabling grants to make nomination rights for affordable rented accommodation available to those on the Bucks Home Choice system. engage with private house builders to explore the viability of acquiring homes to accommodate key workers. Provided this is a viable option, the Council will deliver at least one scheme in 2022. review and catalogue empty homes in Buckinghamshire and explore if these can be brought back into use. Council Tax charges for persistently empty homes will also be reviewed.   Councillor Nick Naylor, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Homelessness and Regulatory Services said:   Having a safe and secure home is a basic need we all have a right to, so we’re looking at a suite of options to secure greater numbers of affordable homes across the county.   Buckinghamshire Council has also set out how the Government’s First Homes scheme will work in Buckinghamshire. The scheme is designed to help local first time buyers and key workers onto the property ladder, by offering homes at a discount of at least 30% compared to the market price. This could save each buyer a significant amount of money, making deposits and mortgages more affordable. The discounts will apply to the homes forever, meaning that generations of new buyers and the local community will continue to benefit every time the property is sold.   The council has set local eligibility criteria restrictions so that First Homes have the best chance to be sold to local people and key workers.  
Buckinghamshire Council offers free events in support of Dementia Action Week
To mark Dementia Action Week 2022, which runs from 16 to 22 May, Buckinghamshire Council is running a series of events in the county. The awareness week is run annually by the Alzheimer’s Society, with this year’s theme being diagnosis. Diagnosis rates for dementia have fallen to a five-year low and the Alzheimer’s Society is encouraging those experiencing common dementia symptoms, such as memory loss, personality changes and changes in behaviour, to seek guidance and support in understanding those symptoms. Research by the Society indicates that the biggest barrier to those seeking a diagnosis is the misconception that memory loss is a normal sign of ageing. This year’s Dementia Action Week aims to help those who might be living with undiagnosed dementia to understand potential symptoms, to come forward for guidance and support, and to feel empowered to take the next steps towards diagnosis. During the week, Buckinghamshire Council will be running a series of events which are open to residents across the county to raise awareness of dementia-related conditions. Tuesday 17 May   Aylesbury – To celebrate the Platinum Jubilee, Aylesbury Town Council and Aylesbury Library will be hosting a FREE event as part of our dementia friendly initiative in Dementia Action Week. Buckingham – Free drop-in session at Buckingham Library 10am – 1pm. Wednesday 18 May Adult Social Care Commissioning Virtual Post Diagnosis Information session. This session is for anyone who has had a diagnosis of dementia and their carers and would like to find out more about the condition, how to manage symptoms and live well and find out what support is available. It’s also an opportunity to ask questions to the Dementia Advisors. The session runs from 10:30am – 12pm. In addition to the above, Virtual Dementia Tours – organised by Buckinghamshire Council’s Community Boards and local Dementia Action Alliances – will be available to interested residents. The Virtual Dementia Tour is a life-changing experience and the only scientifically and medically proven method of giving a person with a healthy brain an experience of what dementia might be like. Enter the world of a person with dementia and understand the simple changes you can make to your practice and to the environment to improve the lives of people with dementia. The Virtual Dementia Tour is taken by over 200,000 people per year in the UK and is the benchmark training used by multiple NHS Trusts, HSE Trusts, care homes, nursing homes, families and more. Available dates and locations for the Virtual Dementia Tour are: Monday 16 May – Burnham Park Hall Interactive Dementia Awareness Experience – Monday 16 May, multiple times | Eventbrite Tuesday 17 May – Beaconsfield Town Hall, Penn Road, Beaconsfield, HP9 2PP – Interactive Dementia Awareness Experience – Tuesday 17 May, multiple times | Eventbrite Wednesday 18 May – Lace Hill Manor Care Home – Virtual Dementia Tour Session 2 Buckingham Tickets – Wednesday 18 May at 10:30am | Eventbrite Thursday 19 May – Bourne End Community Centre, Wakeman Rd, Wooburn Green, Bourne End SL8 5SX Friday 20 May Risborough Community Centre, Wades Park, Stratton Road, Princes Risborough, HP27 9AX – Interactive Dementia Awareness Experience – Friday 20 May, multiple times | Eventbrite There are four sessions available on every day, each with nine places, including an interactive experience on the specially designed vehicle followed by a group debrief.
Council asks for residents’ help in tackling the costly problem of food waste
It’s a priority for Buckinghamshire Council to take local action to reduce food waste, and to do this it’s asking local people to share their experience in an online survey of why almost a third of the food we buy never makes it to a plate. The results will be used to plan projects and positive campaigns which help local people reduce food waste.   Food waste is a serious issue – for the average family, wasted food costs £720 a year, at a time when the cost of living is increasing at a rate not seen for many years.   Nationally, 4.5 million tonnes of edible food is wasted every year. And globally, wasted food not only contributes to serious food scarcity, but plays a major part in causing the carbon emissions that are behind climate change.   That’s why Buckinghamshire Council is working hard to address the problem at a local level. To better do this, the Council’s waste team wants to find out more about the day-to-day reasons why food goes to waste, and they want to hear from you. The online survey just takes a few minutes at yourvoicebucks.citizenspace.com/communities/food-waste-survey-2022 and a completed survey means you get to enter a £250 prize draw!
Whatever your excuse, there’s no excuse for speeding
“I was late for work.” “I didn’t see the sign.” “There was no one else on the road!”   All these excuses are commonly heard when people are stopped for speeding. Buckinghamshire Council’s road safety initiative, Travel Safe Bucks is launching a new campaign to remind people that whatever the excuse, there’s no excuse for speeding.   Managing speed is something a lot of drivers and riders seem to struggle with, for many and varied reasons. The ‘No Excuses, No Speeding’ campaign looks to remind people of all the excuses that may be used to justify their speeding and all the ways these excuses can be challenged.   Managing speed is about knowing the speed limit for the road, planning and concentration. It’s important for drivers and riders to plan their journey to allow plenty of time to get to their destination, as being late is an excuse frequently used as a justification for speeding. It’s also important to keep an eye on the speedometer, especially when leaving faster roads and to look out for road signs when turning into a new road.   It’s not just about tackling the excuses for speeding, but also about reminding people that the speed limit depends on the vehicle you’re in and the type of road you are driving on. For example, vans and lorries may have different speed limits on some roads compared to cars.
Senior political appointments confirmed at Buckinghamshire Council
Senior political appointments have been confirmed by Buckinghamshire Council following its Annual General Meeting today (18 May) held at The Gateway offices in Aylesbury. Martin Tett continues as Leader of the Council with his own set of portfolio responsibilities covering financial strategy, economic development, skills and employability, strategic infrastructure, policy and communications and the recovery plan for Buckinghamshire. Two deputy leaders, Angela Macpherson and Gareth Williams, will continue to provide support in addition to their own cabinet responsibilities.  Taking up the important ceremonial position of Chairman of the Council for the forthcoming year is Dev Dhillon, with Patricia Birchley supporting him as Vice-Chairman of the Council. Martin also announced his new Cabinet appointments, together with deputy cabinet member positions. The full list is: Health and Wellbeing Portfolio Angela Macpherson – Cabinet Member and Deputy Leader Zahir Mohammed – Deputy Cabinet Member (Public Health) Climate Change and Environment Portfolio Gareth Williams – Cabinet Member and Deputy Leader Jilly Jordan – Deputy Cabinet Member (Environment) Planning and Regeneration Portfolio Peter Strachan – Cabinet Member Rachael Matthews – Deputy Cabinet Member (Town Centre Regeneration) Gary Hall – Deputy Cabinet Member (Enforcement) Homelessness and Regulatory Services Portfolio Mark Winn – Cabinet Member Carl Jackson – Deputy Cabinet Member (Regulatory Services) Education and Children’s Services Portfolio Anita Cranmer – Cabinet Member Joe Baum – Deputy Cabinet Member (Skills) Transport Portfolio Steven Broadbent – Cabinet Member Peter Martin – Deputy Cabinet Member (HS2/EWR) David King – Deputy Cabinet Member (Transport Delivery) Accessible Housing and Resources Portfolio John Chilver – Cabinet Member Tim Butcher – Deputy Cabinet Member (Resources and HR) Culture and Leisure Portfolio Clive Harriss – Cabinet Member Communities Portfolio Steve Bowles – Cabinet Member Arif Hussain – Deputy Cabinet Member (Community Safety)
Please remember the right way to recycle electricals
Buckinghamshire residents are being given a timely reminder to take note of the right and responsible way to recycle electrical items, following a recent fire on one of the council’s refuse vehicles. The recycling collection truck was on rounds in Amersham when it caught fire last week. Luckily the quick-thinking crew spotted the fire and acted promptly to contain it, calling on the Fire Service to attend. Once the fire was extinguished, the vehicle returned straight to the depot where the contents were tipped out and monitored to ensure no further fires broke out. The cause of the fire was found to be a laptop and battery, which had been placed in a recycling bin for collection. No-one was hurt in the incident and the vehicle was undamaged. Across Buckinghamshire, batteries can be recycled at the kerbside if placed inside a standard carrier bag and left on top of the resident’s recycling bin. They will then be collected by council crews on the day they normally empty the bin. Small electrical items (broadly categorised as anything with a plug, battery or charger) should be taken to a local household recycling centre. These items include: Hair dryers Hair straighteners Electric toothbrushes Games controllers Mobile phones and chargers Small electrical power tools If an electrical item is larger than a shoe box (for example, microwave ovens and car batteries) it will need to be taken to a local Household Recycling Centre. Alternatively, residents can arrange for items to be collected, for a fee, using the council’s bulky waste collection services. For more information visit the Recycle for Buckinghamshire website.

Councillor Derek Town 

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