Buckinghamshire Councillors report 31-3-22

 Over 2,000 nominations received for Buckinghamshire’s Local Heritage List
More than 2,000 sites and assets have been nominated by local people for inclusion on Buckinghamshire’s Local Heritage List. Using funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Buckinghamshire Council is working to improve the quality and extent of its Local Heritage List. The Local Heritage List seeks to identify locally significant assets and celebrate their contribution to local identity and character. These assets can include historic buildings, archaeological sites, landscape features, historic parks and gardens and more. To date, over 2,000 assets have been nominated for Buckinghamshire’s Local Heritage List, including clock towers, road signs, post boxes, bridges and lamp posts, as well as the usual historic buildings, heritage assets and archaeological sites. The Local Heritage List Project Team is now seeking volunteers to help identify and assess assets important and local to them. If you have an interest in heritage, particularly that of Buckinghamshire, and some spare time on your hands, this could be something for you! For more information on the Local Heritage List or to register your interest in volunteering visit: Home – Buckinghamshire’s Local Heritage List (local-heritage-list.org.uk) or email localheritagelist@buckinghamshire.gov.uk  
More Bucks children offered first choice secondary schools places this year   Nearly four out of every five pupils in Buckinghamshire have been offered their first choice of secondary school in this year’s allocations. Figures for Buckinghamshire show that 78% of the 6917 children who applied for a school place were given their first-choice preference. This compares to 74% in 2020. A total of 99% of children in Buckinghamshire who applied in this year’s process received an offer of a school place on Tuesday 1 March. The school system we operated in Buckinghamshire can sometimes cause complications but I’m so pleased that we have been able to support the majority of our families in finding the right school for their child, to help them continue their education in the school of their choice. Just over 10% of applicants received their second-choice placement and 4% were offered their third choice. Only a handful of children, (0.0187%) have not yet been allocated a place. The reasons for this include late applications and preferences for schools far outside catchment or not meeting individual schools’ entry requirements. Offers must be accepted by 11.59pm on Monday 14 March. Families who wish to appeal their allocation can do so by following the guidance given on the Council website.    

Free grants for energy improvements to homes  
We are reminding residents of the free Government funding available to help them improve the energy efficiency of their homes.   Not only does better energy efficiency have a positive impact on the environment and our collective bid to tackle climate change, it also helps reduce energy bills and at a time when costs are rising rapidly this can only be welcomed.   The scheme is run by our partner Warmworks and is available to households on low incomes in both private and rented properties. Please help us promote the scheme in your local communities so residents can benefit. The deadline for applications is fast approaching at the end of this month.   warmworks.co.uk/greenhomesgrant  

New licensing policy adopted for Buckinghamshire  
Buckinghamshire Council has adopted a new policy that sets out how it will consider applications and issues relating to licensing.  Under the Licensing Act 2003, the new Licensing Policy for Buckinghamshire replaces those that were previously being used by the former district councils. The policy sets out how the Council will consider applications for licences for alcohol sales, entertainment provided at large scale or late night events and late night food take-aways. It also explains the Council’s approach to dealing with problems at existing licensed premises. The law requires that the Council produces and publishes this policy at least every five years. Before the policy was approved, the Council consulted with a wide range of people and organisations who might be affected by it, including the police, licence holders, members of the public and residents’ associations. All of the comments received were considered and some changes were made to the final policy as a result. The policy includes elements that reflect how licensing can support the Council’s core aims of strengthening our communities, improving our environment, protecting the vulnerable and increasing prosperity. Applications for permanent licences, and any significant changes to current licences must be advertised at the premises and on the Council’s website. Anyone who might be affected by the proposed activities, or changes, can object if they think that any of the licensing objectives are likely to be undermined. These objectives are: the prevention of public nuisance, public safety, the prevention of crime and disorder and the protection of children from harm. Existing licences can also be reviewed and action taken where activities are causing a problem.      

Are you caring for someone else’s child?
Buckinghamshire Council is urging residents to get in touch if they are aware of children living apart from close family, as this informal arrangement could be what is known as Private Fostering and if so, by law, the council needs to be informed. Children under 16 (or under 18 if they are disabled) who are living away from their parents or close relatives (such as aunts and uncles, grandparents, siblings or step-parents) for more than 28 days are classed as being in a Private Fostering arrangement. By law, the council must be told of this. Private Fostering arrangements are completely legal and can often be the best solution for the child. There can be lots of reasons why a child doesn’t live at home and their parent has arranged for someone else to care for them. It might be due to illness or instability at home, being sent from overseas for education or healthcare, teenagers living with the family of their boyfriend or girlfriend, or something else. As a council, we simply need to know about the arrangement so we can support everyone involved and ensure the child is safe and well looked after. So, if you think you might be involved in a Private Fostering arrangement, or if you are a professional and know someone who is in such an arrangement, please let us know, it’s the law. Last year, Buckinghamshire Council supported a number of children in a Private Fostering arrangement, but it is believed there are other cases it has not been made aware of. Find out more at: www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/private-fostering or call the Connected Persons team 01296 383 962 or email: cypfirstresponse@buckinghamshire.gov.uk.

Buckinghamshire Council to convert first refuse vehicle to electric thanks to government grant
Buckinghamshire Council has been awarded more than half a million pounds to upcycle its first refuse collection vehicle to electric. It marks the start of the Council’s programme to convert its fleet to electric, resulting in zero exhaust emissions. The £578,000 funding, which was announced this week, is from the Government’s Air Quality Grant, which helps councils to develop and implement measures to reduce the impact of dirty air on people’s health. The grant will cover the cost of upcycling the first vehicle as well as providing a blueprint for the future conversion programme. The funds will also be used to pay for performance trials, spare parts and specialist equipment for maintaining the vehicle. It all paves the way for more vehicle conversions to follow in the future. The upcycled 10-year-old Dennis Eagle 26 tonne refuse collection vehicle will travel 412 miles a week in the north of Aylesbury, including through three air quality management areas. These are areas which have exceeded the air quality objective for nitrogen dioxide so the use of an electric refuse vehicle in these areas will also promote and contribute towards improving air quality. As a result of using the electric refuse vehicle, over 10 tonnes of greenhouse gas, 69 kg of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and half a kilo of particulate matter emissions will be saved per year. Air pollution is the single biggest environmental risk to public health. As part of the same government funding scheme Buckinghamshire Council has also been awarded a grant to purchase and trial low-cost monitoring sensors which will be part of clean air campaigns throughout the year.      
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