Bucks Councillors Report for August 2021

Buckinghamshire Recovery and Growth Proposal Council and Bucks LEP partners have been progressing discussions with government to promote our ambitions for a recovery and growth deal and investment for Buckinghamshire. Discussions have been positive with engagement with civil servants and ministers in a range of government departments including DWP, DCMS, and MHCLG.

The Buckinghamshire Growth Board  agreed plans to launch engagement on its ‘Vision for Buckinghamshire’ with key stakeholders over the summer and early autumn. The Board also supported submission of multiple strategic funding bids for Buckinghamshire to Government; £2,603,084 for nine projects from a range of organisations were submitted to the Community Renewal Fund and £117M for five Levelling Up Fund bids for the county

Business Support Grants Most of the mandatory Covid grant schemes that were operating during 2020/21 have now closed. The last of these, the Restart Grant scheme has a closing date of the 30th of June. Since the start of the pandemic, between all the various business grant schemes, Buckinghamshire Council has distributed over £166m to support businesses in Buckinghamshire. One of the schemes delivered was the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG), a discretionary pot of funding allocated to the Council. In total, Buckinghamshire received £21m for the ARG and used it to support businesses for five of the winter/spring lockdown months. Buckinghamshire’s ARG scheme was designed to support as many businesses as quickly as possible, in particular businesses which were not able to access support from other grant schemes. The Council and was a top performing council in terms of % of funding distributed as per the latest national B.E.I.S. reporting statistics. Over the monthly rounds of funding, the ARG provided grants to 4544 businesses and self-employed individuals which supported over 16,000 employees in Buckinghamshire.

HS2 & East West Rail (EWR) With the intensity of activity by HS2 Ltd increasing, the Council continues to emphasise its continued opposition to the project and, now construction has started, to try and hold HS2 to account. The Council is currently in an appeals process with HS2 Ltd on a number of lorry route approvals impacting the A413 and the A422. The Council did not determine these applications as it was considered that we had not received sufficient information and reassurances regarding the cumulative impacts of the lorry movements on the Council’s highway network. There has been a number of complaints in relation to dust / vibration and noise, EWR are investing in a new product to help minimise the dust issue and this should be rolled out over the next few weeks, as they are awaiting delivery. Co-ordination activities are continuing between HS2 and EWR, which are being led by BC Officers. There continues to be ongoing concern regarding the damage being caused to the highway by EWR in the north of the county, meetings are underway to further discuss a programme of repairs and how best to share inspections between BC and EWR. Some repair works have already taken place. The Council are currently seeking funding for road repairs from both HS2 and EWR.

Ivinghoe and Wing Community Board – Like all 16 Buckinghamshire Community Boards, I & W CB has spent a busy 12 months establishing itself at the heart of the local community.

For the coming year I & W Community Board will have action groups focusing on the following areas:

  • Economic recovery
  • Health & wellbeing (including community safety)
  • Improving the environment
  • Road safety, highways and infrastructure

At the recent CB meeting the respective Action Groups/Sub Committees were established and Chair persons nominated.

Council demands that ‘The Buckinghamshire Line’ be built!  At last week’s full Council meeting, councillors unanimously agreed to continue pressing the Government to commit to building the Spur line of East-West Rail between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes and the associated work to dual the track between Princes Risborough and Aylesbury. However, BC remain concerned that this recent funding announcement did not commit to the completion of the proposed spur between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes. This spur was originally conceived as a key part of this project. The track is there, the need is there, but we now need the Government to put in the investment to get the trains running.

Another success in Buckinghamshire’s battle against fly-tipping Fly-tipper prosecuted for dumping waste at National Trust beauty spot.A man has been prosecuted for three repeat offences of fly-tipping at a local area of natural beauty in Buckinghamshire.On Wednesday 21 July, 22-year-old Alex Carl Clewett of Worthington Road, Dunstable was sentenced at High Wycombe Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to the three offences that occurred on the National Trust land at Ashridge.Dockey Wood is a stretch of forest within the 2,000-hectare Ashridge Estate, owned by the National Trust. The woodland which is designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty, is a popular destination all year round but is perhaps most famous for its spectacular carpet of bluebells that emerges every spring and draws visitors from miles around.

Towards the end of 2019 the car park at Dockey Wood began to be blighted by a series of fly-tipping offences. Officers from Buckinghamshire Council’s Enforcement Team, who investigated the incidents, were able to examine the waste dumped and trace the offences back to Clewett. Addresses found in the waste indicated that Clewett had been paid by a builder to take bathroom waste from a job in Feltham. Further evidence gave details of a garage clearance in St Albans where Clewett had been paid to dispose of the items.In addition to examining the evidence left by Clewett, the enforcement team set up surveillance cameras in the car park overnight on the 4 February 2020. A truck insured to Clewett was captured on camera dumping waste again.

In interview, Clewett initially denied the offence but pleaded guilty when confronted with the evidence compiled by the enforcement team. In sentencing the judge ordered Clewett to pay the full £888 clearance costs to the National Trust and a further £500 in costs to Buckinghamshire Council. Clewett was also sentenced to three consecutive 28-day prison terms, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

Buckinghamshire Council wins award for its Zero Waste Map  Buckinghamshire Council has won ‘Best Local Authority Recycling Initiative’ for its innovative Zero Waste Map.The Council overcame some tough competition at the Awards for Excellence in Recycling and Waste Management ceremony on 21 July to take the top prize in their category.

The Zero Waste Map – which has already been viewed by more than 29,000 people since its launch in September 2020 – is an interactive online map that lists over 200 local shops, businesses, projects and public recycling and repair drop-off locations across Buckinghamshire. With so many different types of products and services aimed at living a zero-waste lifestyle, it can get confusing. This is where the Zero Waste Map helps out, as it’s the first tool that puts all these products and services into one place.

The map enables residents to easily search for a specific service or business, but more importantly, it shows all the fantastic options already out there, whether users are looking for them or not. This promotes zero-waste living, makes it accessible and supports local projects, community groups and businesses too.

Buckinghamshire Council approves an extra £3 million for county’s roads  Councillors in Buckinghamshire have today agreed an extra £3 million investment to improve the county’s roads, in addition to the £24 million already allocated to highways improvements.The extra £3 million is being set aside specifically so an extra £2.5 million can be spent repairing potholes with another half a million pounds to upgrade road markings.

The extra spending commitment recognises how big a priority it is for the council to maintain and improve the county’s road network and will be funded using uncommitted earmarked reserves.The potholes will be repaired using the so-called ‘Plane and Patch’ technique – a resurfacing treatment used to repair patches of badly worn road that complements the larger scale road-surfacing programme. Plane and Patch helps prevent roads from falling into a condition where they would then require more expensive structural work.The additional £3 million investment means that overall, £27 million will be spent on roads and footways in 2021/22 and £100 million in total over the next four years.

Buckinghamshire Council starts £4m drains and gullies work programme  Buckinghamshire Council has begun an ambitious programme of clearing gullies and drains across the county.

The drainage improvement works are designed to help prevent flooding and to keep drains and gullies across Bucks clean, clear and operational. The Council has set aside an extra £4 million to fund the works, as part of a wider improvement programme for residents.

Buckinghamshire Council Leader Martin Tett reacts to Prime Minister’s County Deals announcement  Buckinghamshire, as a unitary council, with the same geography as our Local Enterprise Partnership, our main business organisation, our local NHS and our key skills providers is brilliantly placed to pioneer a County Deal, bringing together the ambitions of different government departments to deliver here in Bucks. We also stand ready to work with others to ensure that all parts of the UK succeed from this approach

New electric vehicle charging points installed in Aylesbury town centre  Electric vehicle (EV) drivers can now take advantage of four new EV charging points in Aylesbury town centre’s Waterside North Car Park.

Eight EV charging bays are located in front of the new BP Pulse charging points, enabling up to eight EVs to be simultaneously charged. Each charging point delivers 7kWh, which is enough electricity to provide most EVs with around 25 miles of range for every hour they are plugged into one of the charging points.

Tackling the long grass and protecting wildlife  Grass verges across Buckinghamshire have seen a growth spurt in recent weeks because of the weather conditions this spring, in particular the very wet May followed by a hot June which created perfect growing conditions.

Maintaining our rural verges is a priority for Buckinghamshire Council, especially at road junctions where long grass might impact visibility. BC are very conscious of this year’s sudden growth and want to reassure people that our planned cutting programme is ahead of time this year.

BC cut the grass between April and October and the programme is carefully timed as doing it too early would mean too much growth at the end of the summer meaning the grass would stay long over winter.