Buckinghamshire Councillors Report – May 2023

Buckinghamshire Council outlines further cost-of-living support for residents

Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet has today agreed a comprehensive package of continuing support for residents struggling with cost-of-living pressures.

The council has been allocated a further £4.8 million of Household Support Fund money from the Department for Work and Pensions to provide support until March 2024. It’s now set out how the funding will be used to provide the best help possible to residents who need it most.

The council recognises the cost-of-living pressures have not gone away and high inflation and recent annual bill rises are continuing to impact households across the county. The council is pleased the funding is for a full twelve months of support and today the Cabinet has agreed to continue with a range of initiatives to help local households, including its flagship Helping Hand service.

The Council will spend the new tranche of money in the same way it has done previously, by providing food vouchers to eligible residents, direct support through the Helping Hand service and using the funds to support local organisations like foodbanks, which are providing vital community-based support.

Creating a safer Buckinghamshire for all

The Safer Bucks Strategy 2023-26 is the product of many months of work to identify the community safety issues that matter most to Buckinghamshire residents, working with partner agencies and analysing available data.

The five identified priorities are:

  • Neighbourhood crime – raising awareness of fraud, scams and cybercrime; and undertaking multiagency problem solving to tackle crime hotspots
  • Anti-social behaviour – Tackling repeat victimisation and encouraging reporting and working with partners to address concerns
  • Serious Violence – Raising awareness of serious violence and supporting early intervention and prevention for young people at risk
  • Violence Against Women and Girls – Raising awareness through education and training of professionals and increasing confidence in reporting
  • Exploitation of Vulnerable People – Identifying vulnerable locations where exploitation is at risk of occurring and ensuring communities can recognise the signs and how to report exploitation

To help set the priorities, in September last year a public consultation was run to gain an understanding of how safe residents feel in Buckinghamshire. Some of the key findings included:

  • Fraud and scams continue to be of most concern to respondents, followed by theft from a vehicle
  • Anti-social behaviour continues to be a significant concern for residents
  • There has been an increase in criminal damage and vandalism

The Safer Buckinghamshire Partnership Board is the multi-agency partnership responsible for tackling crime and disorder within Buckinghamshire. The central vision of the Safer Buckinghamshire Partnership is for Buckinghamshire to continue to be one of the safest places to grow up, raise a family, live, work and do business.

Pothole Pro gets to work fixing problem potholes

Buckinghamshire Council’s latest tool in the fight against potholes has been hard at work tackling some of the most troublesome road defects around the county.

The Pothole Pro is a specialist three-in-one vehicle that speeds up the process of repairing potholes and large sections of the road surface.

The machine starts by cutting into the road surface where a pothole has appeared. It planes out the defective area then crops the perimeter of the hole neatly, minimising the amount of material that needs to be removed and allowing a watertight seal. It then brushes away and collects the debris afterwards. All that is then needed following this is for highways teams to seal, lay and compact the asphalt into the prepared area to complete the repair.

The harsh winter weather caused significant damage to many roads across the county, compounded by the extra HGVs working on projects including HS2 and East West Rail. The council’s road crews were trained and ready to spring into action with the new machine once suitable dry weather conditions allowed them to get out and start making permanent repairs to the roads. During the previous wet and cold weather the crews could only make temporary emergency repairs.

Last week, Buckinghamshire Council Leader, Martin Tett and Cabinet Member for Transport, Steven Broadbent, went out to view the Pothole Pro in action in Crispin Street and Berryfields Road in Waddesdon to see for themselves how the Buckinghamshire Highways team is working round the clock to carry out the much-needed repairs.

The first sites the Pothole Pro visited earlier this month were Lower Road in Haddenham and Portway Road in Stone, where nine areas of defective road surface were repaired. The Pothole Pro will continue to travel around the county visiting sites that have been identified for repairs as part of a 28-day patching plan, including further works on Berryfields Road where 41 defects are due to be fixed over coming weeks.  

Condition surveys of the county’s road are carried out by the Highway Inspectors who, along with the Local Area Technicians, identify areas that require repairs. The number and size of the defects are recorded, measured and assessed to determine the best way of making the repairs. The Pothole Pro is being used to repair defects measuring 21.5sqf (2sqm) and above. For larger areas with multiple defects, use of the Pothole Pro for planing and sweeping is combined with the more practical methods of Plane and Patch or resurfacing is used, where the old road surface is removed in its entirety and a new surface laid. To date the largest patch of road repaired by the Pothole Pro has measured 2,637 sq ft (245sqm).

You can’t evade the law when it comes to fly-tipping in Bucks

A man from London has discovered that trying to evade the law doesn’t pay when it comes to fly-tipping in Buckinghamshire. Abdul Azim, 43, from London, was arrested by police after failing to attend a court summons in April regarding a fly-tipping offence in Gerrards Cross in December 2022. Appearing before magistrates at High Wycombe Magistrates Court on 10 May, Azim finally pleaded guilty to the charge. Azim was traced when a Buckinghamshire Council enforcement officer attended Lower Road in Gerrards Cross to investigate a report of fly-tipping. The source of the waste was discovered to be a householder in West London. Statistics show that around 70% of waste fly-tipped in Buckinghamshire comes from London and areas outside the county. The householder was interviewed and told council officers that she had hired Azim as a contractor to carry out some minor DIY works and to dispose of some waste for her. In court Azim admitted dumping some of the waste found and revealed he had lost his job because of the incident and subsequently his home because he could no longer afford the rent. He admitted that the whole incident was, “a harsh lesson learnt”.   Azim was fined £200 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £80 and £1,140 towards the council’s costs, making a total to pay of £1,360. Gareth Williams, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment said: “This was a protracted investigation involving several different witnesses and once again shows that we have a proactive enforcement team who actively target fly-tipping. They will vigorously pursue offenders and wherever possible see that they are made accountable for their actions.”

If you spot fly-tipping anywhere in Buckinghamshire report it online – www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/fix-my-street

Councillor Derek Town 

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