Buckinghamshire Councillors Report 30th Mar 2023

Buckinghamshire Council announces extra investment in county’s roads

Buckinghamshire Council is investing an extra £5 million in the county’s road network, on top of £100 million it’s already committed to spending on the roads over a four-year period.

The announcement was made at a meeting of full Council last Wednesday night, where the full budget for 2023/24 was set. Council Leader Martin Tett made the extra funds for roads available from our Reserves acknowledging the heavy toll of wet and freezing conditions this winter plus increased HGV traffic from HS2 and East West Rail.

It means that in total, £105 million is now allocated directly to maintaining and improving the county’s road network. Overall, £130 million in funding is being dedicated to roads and other highways infrastructure in Buckinghamshire including pavements, drains, street lighting and bridges during the council term.

It’s part of an overall package of investment in local services agreed by councillors last night, who went through and agreed the detail of the 2023/24 budget. The agreed budget outlines which services and projects are being prioritised, and how these are being paid for. The spending plans were shaped by residents who outlined how they wanted council tax to be spent during a consultation last year.

The agreed budget also includes the following investment:

  • nearly £143 million for improvements to schools
  • £20 million on housing and tackling homelessness
  • more than £14 million to tackle Climate Change and prevent flooding
  • more than £20 million towards our waste and recycling facilities

Have your say as a member of Buckinghamshire Council’s Customer Partnership Panel

Buckinghamshire Council is calling on residents to join its Customer Partnership Panel, giving them the chance to offer their views and feedback on how the council can improve its website, online forms and other communication methods.

The panel was launched late last year and is now seeking new members aged 18 and over from all walks of life. Applicants must live within the Buckinghamshire Council area.

As a panel member, residents will have the opportunity to participate in surveys several times a year to provide their views on how the council communicates with residents, as well as providing feedback on the council’s digital services.

Panel members will be invited to participate in up to four surveys a year and the majority of these will be conducted online. However, some may involve a telephone call or focus groups. Panel members can choose how they wish to be contacted and whether they wish to participate. They can also leave the panel whenever they wish.

Members of the panel will be reimbursed for reasonable traveling expenses and offered refreshments at any face-to-face meetings.

Buckinghamshire Council announces new highways contractors

​Buckinghamshire Council has today announced the 12 approved contractors who will be working on highways, maintenance and infrastructure projects within the county from 1 April 2023.

The announcement completes all elements of the transition of the council’s highways and maintenance contract work to new partners, as part of a planned move as the contract with current partner, Ringway Jacobs, comes to a close at the end of this month.

Last year Balfour Beatty Living Places (BBLP) were awarded the council’s Term Maintenance Contract and the Term Consultancy Contract was awarded to Atkins, starting from 1 April 2023. The 12 newly-appointed contractors will work alongside BBLP and Atkins to carry out the works needed, under new Framework 1 and Framework 2 contracts which will run for a period of four years.

The 12 contractors have been appointed following a procurement process and will operate as follows:

Buckinghamshire Highways Framework One – Minor Works

Lot 1: Conventional Surfacing Work

  • Balfour Beatty Living Places Limited
  • Eurovia Infrastructure Limited
  • O’Hara Bros Surfacing Limited

Lot 2: Surface Treatments including Surface Dressing

  • Colas Limited
  • Eurovia Infrastructure Limited
  • Kier Highways Limited

Lot 3: Minor Works (under £500K)

  • Balfour Beatty Living Places Limited
  • J McCann and Co Limited
  • O’Hara Bros Surfacing Limited  

Buckinghamshire Highways Framework Two – Major Works (over £500K)

  • Balfour Beatty Living Places Limited
  • Keltbray Highways Limited
  • Tilbury Douglas Construction Limited

The frameworks have been set up in this way to deliver value for money and to allow the council to align delivery of highways and regeneration infrastructure projects under a new delivery model. The new model will mean other council services such as Flooding and Development, Transport Strategy and Rights of Way teams can benefit from the wide range of expertise and experience provided by the range of contractors

Support available for Bucks residents struggling with Council Tax payments

​Buckinghamshire residents are reminded that annual Council Tax bills will start being posted from Monday 13 March. Residents worried about their ability to pay their Council Tax are urged to contact Buckinghamshire Council as soon as possible.

The council offers several options to help ease financial pressures, including checking for discounts or exemptions, switching payment dates, and spreading payments over 12 months.

The council is encouraging residents to sign up for a Customer Access online account, which provides people with 24/7 access to manage their Council Tax account – including checking balances, payments, bills, and setting up or amending their Direct Debit. To sign up for a Customer Access account, residents need their account number and online key, both of which can be found on their Council Tax bill.

For information and help with any money-related issues, residents should visit Buckinghamshire Council’s website or contact the Helping Hand team on 01296 531151.

Citizen’s Advice also offers free, independent advice and support around Council Tax payments

Free, fun and flavourful – Buckinghamshire Council continues support and countywide holiday clubs for eligible families this Easter

​This Easter, Buckinghamshire Council is continuing its support for eligible children and families during the Easter Holidays as part of its ongoing Helping Hand and Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programmes. These services provide a range of assistance, including food vouchers, holiday clubs and hot meals. There is also a range of support and advicDetails of all the HAF holiday activities are available on Buckinghamshire Council’s website.e available to help with the cost of living for families in Buckinghamshire.

Council joins forces with Forestry England to create new woodland in Wing

Plans to plant a brand-new woodland in Wing have been given the green light in a joint project between Forestry England and Buckinghamshire Council. The new Wing Wood will see 132,000 trees planted on land owned by Buckinghamshire Council, creating an inspiring green space for local people, a valuable habitat for wildlife and a sustainable source of timber.

The decision to create the new woodland on the 51-hectare site follows a public consultation last year and local and national organisations were also involved in discussions over the woodland plan. Wing Wood will include a mix of tree species suited to the locality, five new wildlife ponds and a community orchard as well as accessible paths for walking and cycling. As part of the woodland design, Forestry England hope to link the new Wing Wood with Long Spinney Wood, creating clear paths and an easy connection between the two areas.

Forestry England will begin planting this year and aim to get most of the trees in the ground before the end of April with the rest planted in the autumn and winter. The 132,000 trees will form part of the council’s pledge to plant 543,000 trees, one for for every resident in Buckinghamshire by2031, as part of its Climate Change Strategy.

Vision for future of Buckinghamshire libraries is agreed

Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet has today reviewed and agreed a vision and strategy for Buckinghamshire’s library service.

As well as traditional reading and book-borrowing, Buckinghamshire’s library service has transformed to offer many more services including free computer classes, health checks, loanable tablets and a broad range of educational, social and cultural activities for all ages.

Over this winter our libraries have also become important welcoming spaces for anyone who needs a warm, free and safe space to visit during the colder months.

The strategy for Buckinghamshire’s libraries adopted today has been developed after extensive consultation with users, staff, volunteers and stakeholders.  It outlines the priorities for the service and agrees a clear vision for the future – which is that Buckinghamshire libraries “provide welcoming and safe spaces for everyone to access reading, culture and the information and services they need to learn, discover, imagine and thrive.

With reading and book-borrowing still at the heart of our libraries, the new strategy reflects the growing use of libraries as community hubs accommodating other services too, for example, registrars and the Junction Youth Club in partnership with Action4Youth at High Wycombe library. Many libraries also now operate as Council Access Points, helping residents with information on wider council services.

New parking charges to come in across Buckinghamshire

New charges for on and off-street parking across Buckinghamshire will come into force from Monday 3 April. The changes are being introduced following a review by the council’s budget scrutiny committee.

The changes will see an increase of 20p per tariff for on street parking and 10p per tariff for off street parking. Where applicable, free parking periods are expected to remain unchanged.

Buckinghamshire Council awarded £576k to provide energy efficiency and clean heating upgrades to low-income households in the county

​Buckinghamshire Council has been awarded £576,000 from the government’s Home Upgrade Grant to provide energy efficiency and clean heating upgrades to owner occupied and private rented properties in the county. The upgrades are aimed at tackling fuel poverty and reducing carbon emissions.

The scheme enables eligible households to benefit from a range of energy and cost saving upgrades, depending on the specific circumstances such as the fuel source, energy efficiency and EPC rating of the home. The majority of the funding will be made available for the least efficient homes heated by the most polluting fuel sources.

Councillor Derek Town 

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