Bucks Councillors Report for September 2021

Buckinghamshire Council launches licensing policy consultation
Buckinghamshire Council is seeking views on a new draft licensing Policy, which explains the Council’s approach to making decisions about licences. The Policy is important for businesses such as pubs, shops, restaurants and nightclubs – but also for members of the wider community such as residents, community groups and responsible authorities who may be impacted by, or have an interest in, licensing decisions. The Policy reflects feedback Buckinghamshire Council received in their recent survey with key stakeholders, which included the licensed trade, representatives of Buckinghamshire residents and responsible authorities such as the police and fire service. It also includes items that reflect the Council’s core objectives of strengthening communities, improving the environment, protecting the vulnerable and increasing prosperity. Nick Naylor, Cabinet Member for Housing, Homelessness and Regulatory Services, said: “We welcome your views to help shape future policy decisions in this important area. To find out more and to complete the survey, please go to: https://yourvoicebucks.citizenspace.com/communities/licensingpolicy2021 “The online survey just takes a few minutes to complete, and responses can be submitted up until Sunday 26 September.
Support for Afghan families  –  ‘Helping Hand for Afghanistan’ refugee initiative.

Having launched this only two weeks ago, Bucks Council (BC)  have now received pledges of over £22,000, including off-line donations. These have come from residents and businesses wanting to support refugees from Afghanistan as they start to arrive in Buckinghamshire. This money will go via the community charity, Heart of Bucks, to help provide new appropriate clothing, domestic equipment and other essentials as we welcome new arrivals into our community. If you would like to donate please do so at: www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/helping-hand 

In addition, BC are still asking for offers of other support such as accommodation, translation skills, community support etc. At present we do not need offers of second-hand clothing. You can offer your help or support via the dedicated pages on our website.

BC are still in discussion with the Government to finalise the exact number of families we could welcome. We understand family sizes are large and accommodation is needed where schooling, community support, health services and potentially employment can be best provided. If you know of suitable accommodation that will be available for approximately a year, please contact us using the above link.

We anticipate our first Afghan family arriving shortly. This may or may not receive publicity as we will respect the wishes of the family concerned, particularly if they have relatives still in Afghanistan who may be vulnerable.

Statement on The Fremantle Trust’s residential care home Carey Lodge in Wing

Buckinghamshire Council has initiated a safeguarding enquiry following ongoing concerns around the quality of care and support provided at the residential care home Carey Lodge in Wing by The Fremantle Trust.

A dedicated team of Buckinghamshire Council social care staff is now based in Carey Lodge. This team will speak to all Buckinghamshire residents and their family members to ensure they are fully involved in any decisions that are made with regards to reviewing their support needs and identifying somewhere else to live and receive care.

The Council continues to work with Carey Lodge and The Fremantle Trust to ensure the safety and wellbeing of residents is given the highest priority.

The Council acknowledges this situation is a distressing time for people who live at Carey Lodge and their family. If you or your family member have any concerns that you would like to discuss, please speak to the Council’s Adult Social Care staff based at Carey Lodge.

Funding for local community projects up for grabs

Do you have a great idea for a community initiative that will benefit local people but just needs the funds to get it off the ground?

Have you already got a successful community project that you’d like to expand or develop?

If the answer is yes, then Buckinghamshire’s 16 Community Boards want to hear from you.

Community boards are the local arm of the council. Working at a grassroots level with local people, groups and organisations, their aim is to drive forward the council’s priorities at a local level, tailored to the needs of each individual area.

Since they were set up last July, the boards have made great strides in forging strong relationships with local communities, listening to and engaging with local people to understand what matters most to them and working together with them to deliver projects to benefit their local communities.

Each community board has funds available to support projects that meet the agreed priorities for their area. Community boards set their local priorities and an action plan for how they want to address these with local people, groups and businesses in their area. Everything from support for older people, health and wellbeing, transport and youth initiatives feature as part of their plans to make a difference. The boards are keen to hear from local people about projects and ideas they may have. Of particular focus this year will be initiatives to improve the environment and supporting economic recovery. Community boards are keen to hear from community groups and partners, to work with them on their ideas and projects in these areas.  If you have an idea for funding or are just keen to get involved in an action group looking at how to tackle local issues, get in touch with your community board directly – www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/community-boards 

Community board projects range from BMX parks for young people to skills to get back out to work, right through to improving roads and community spaces. In their first year Buckinghamshire’s 16 community boards supported a whole range of projects including:

  • Support to a range of groups providing support to local communities during the pandemic
  • Environmental projects including wildlife competitions, community clear-ups and planting schemes
  • Working with students and young people to develop an app to drive up engagement with the younger community
  • Funding a range of charity projects focused on mental health and wellbeing

Steve Bowles, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities said: “Community boards are here to make a real difference to the people of Buckinghamshire at a truly local level. We are delighted at how well the community boards have established themselves in their local communities over the past year but there is still work to be done. We want to make sure everyone knows about their local community board and how they can get involved. share ideas and work with us to improve where they live.

“Community boards are two-way partnerships between the council and local communities. The essence of our vision is summed up in our simple strapline – Local voices, local choices, local action. By working together with our local communities, we can truly bring change and improvement to your area, directly addressing your concerns and priorities at a local level.”

He continued: “Every community board has a range of ways of keeping in touch with their community including newsletters and social media. You can keep up to date with what’s going on and get involved in matters that you are interested in. We are especially keen to hear from local people on ideas they may have for ways to improve the area where they live. Not every idea will be doable but local residents and groups are the ones who can really tell us what issues need to be addressed and we want to work with them to make changes for the better.”

To find out more about Buckinghamshire’s Community Boards visit our website: www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/community-boards

Innovative wireless electric vehicle charging comes to Bucks

Buckinghamshire Council has become one of the first local authorities in the country to trial a pioneering electric car club with an innovative induction charger, as part of the Council’s commitment to tackling climate change and to adopting modern transport solutions.

The On-Street Residential Induction Charger demonstrator (OSRIC) will make a hire car available to local residents in Marlow so they can test the latest wireless charging technology for electric vehicles (EV) and also gain experience of driving an EV.

Instead of plugging an electric car into a standard charging pillar, the Council is trialling an innovative induction wireless charging pad set into the ground. The trial will help assess solutions to EV charging that avoids potential trip hazards and a clutter of wires. The pad will only be activated when an electric car (installed with the specialised induction pad) parks over it. 

Because existing electric cars don’t have wireless charging, an adapted Renault Zoe electric vehicle will be made available for hire using the hire car company HiyaCar, so that residents can try it out and become familiar with how to charge it using the wireless pad.  It can also be charged using a standard cable connection if driven away from the wireless pad.

Councillor Steven Broadbent, Buckinghamshire Council Cabinet Member for Transport, said:

“This is a really exciting project and it’s been brilliant to see it in action. Buckinghamshire Council is forward thinking and willing to trial transport innovations such as this.

“The trial will explore the feasibility of wireless charging and will also allow residents who may be hesitant to change to an EV the chance to try one. The car offers hourly or daily rental options so for some people it could be an alternative to owning a car.  This technology is still in the early stages but it should all make running an electric vehicle simpler and easier – to ultimately encourage more take up.”

The Marlow demonstrator is funded by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles and is part of the government’s commitment to invest £1.3 billion on charging infrastructure for EVs across the country. Buckinghamshire Council is working with Char.gy, the charging point company, and with a team of local authorities, suppliers and researchers to run a set of trials in contrasting locations across Britain.

Richard Stobart, CEO and founder of Char.gy said:

“As the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) increases, the ability to recharge EVs for drivers without off-street parking poses a challenge without increasing the amount of EV charge points potentially hindering pedestrian freedom of movement.

EV wireless charging is a promising way of meeting this demand, and trials such as this for the public to use and provide feedback is invaluable to developing this technology. Char.gy appreciates Buckinghamshire Council’s partnership with this project, helping to ensure that the technology will be easily adopted in the future.’

In Marlow, this initiative is supported locally by the South West Chilterns Community Board. The trial will soon be expanded, taking place at two other sites within Buckinghamshire, along with sites in London Borough of Redbridge and Milton Keynes, which will provide contrasting urban and demographic situations.

For more information about OSRIC, including information about joining the car club, please visit the demonstrator’s website: www.osric.co.uk

Household recycling centres switch to winter hours

Buckinghamshire Council’s nine household recycling centres switch to winter opening hours on Friday 1 October. The new opening hours will be 9am to 4pm.

The household recycling centres will open the same days as normal, it’s only the opening hours that are changing due to the number of visits to the centres tailing off after 4pm as the evenings get darker.

Peter Strachan, Cabinet Member for Environment & Climate Change, said:

“The switch to winter hours, 9am to 4pm, happens every year on 1 October as the sites get quieter and the evenings get darker. However, our household recycling centres will continue to offer a comprehensive service for residents within the revised opening hours.

“You don’t need to book a slot to visit the centres, but I recommend that you check our live webcams before setting off: www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/bin-collection-recycling-and-waste/recycle-household-waste

The household recycling centre are open on the following days:

  • Amersham, Aston Clinton, Beaconsfield, Buckingham, High Wycombe and Langley – open every day.
  • Aylesbury (Rabans Lane), Burnham and Chesham – open five days a week, closing on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

When visiting a site, please:

  • Check the webcams online to see how busy the site is and for the quieter times to visit.
  • Bring proof of address. Only residents who pay council tax to Buckinghamshire Council can use the sites. (Slough Borough Council residents are able to use Langley and Burnham sites only.)
  • Come back another time if the site is busy. Long queues can cause traffic and block access to homes and businesses.
  • If possible, wear a mask or face covering when outside your vehicle.

Further information, including what waste the centres do and don’t accept, can be found on Buckinghamshire Council’s Household recycling centres webpage.

Buckinghamshire Council adopts Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan

The Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan (VALP) completed the last part of the process tonight (15 September) when Buckinghamshire Council voted to adopt the plan which covers the northern part of the new unitary council’s area.  

The VALP sets out a long term planning blueprint and vision for the area of the Vale of Aylesbury up to 2033. The local plan sets out how and where land can be used to

  • meet housing need
  • provide key infrastructure elements
  • protect and enhance the area’s key natural features
  • incorporate climate control policies
  • provide employment land

Housing

The VALP allocates land for 30,134 new homes. These are mostly concentrated around Aylesbury with other sites at Buckingham, Winslow, Haddenham and adjacent to Milton Keynes. It embeds policies to ensure that 25% of new homes that are built within the area will be affordable homes and that 10-15% will have disabled access. 

The plan has gone through rigorous public consultation over a number of years including public hearings held before the independent planning Inspector. The independent Inspector cannot approve a local plan unless it meets current and projected local housing needs and falls within current government guidelines for determining what that local need is.

Infrastructure

The plan also sets out where essential infrastructure such as roads, schools and facilities which will  support the new homes will be needed, as well as employment sites.

Nature and heritage

The VALP sets out policies to protect and enhance the natural environment and countryside for the future. It includes a net increase to the Green Belt by 98 hectares. It also embeds policies to protect our built heritage.

Climate change

There are many specific policies relating to climate change – including making sure there is provision for EV charging in every new home.

Work on the VALP started in 2014 and went through three stages of public consultation before it went to a nationally appointed independent Inspector in 2018. There were then two hearing sessions where people who objected to the plan could make their case for changes to the plan directly to the independent Inspector. The Inspector also looked closely at all the evidence sent to him by objectors and the Council before writing his full report. His report is final and cannot be amended.

Councillor Gareth Williams Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration commented: “Now we have completed the Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan process we can use the policies to give us more control and more local say about what gets built where.  It gives us power to shape future development in the way we want and where we want it to be.”

The Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan will remain in force until it is superseded by the new Buckinghamshire Local Plan in 2025.  

For more information click here  Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan (VALP)  

Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan (VALP) 2013-2033 | Buckinghamshire Council | Aylesbury Vale Area (aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk)

Having rubbish removed? Don’t pay cash!

Many of us are quite accustomed to paying cash in hand to have odd jobs done to the house or in the garden – but if you ever need to have rubbish removed, this is the one time you should never pay cash.

Did you know that your rubbish is far more likely to end up fly-tipped if you pay someone cash to remove it? A bona fide waste carrier must pay a commercial tip when they want to dispose of rubbish -an anonymous ‘man with a van’ has a strong financial incentive to avoid the disposal charge – by dumping your rubbish in the countryside.

And there’s a sting in the tail. If we investigate a fly-tipping incident and find evidence that leads us to a householder, we’ll pay them a visit and ask them to provide evidence that they’ve taken reasonable steps to identify the person they hired to remove their rubbish and to ensure that it would be disposed of properly.

If the householder can provide evidence of the identity of the person who took their rubbish away such as details of a bank card payment, the investigation can focus on the fly-tipper. However, if the householder has paid an unidentified individual cash in hand to remove rubbish, we’ll issue them with a £400 fixed penalty notice for failing in their ‘duty of care’. If the incident is serious, this might be escalated to a court summons that could result in a criminal conviction and a hefty fine.

Jilly Jordan, Deputy Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment, said:

“Fly-tipping is a blight on the Buckinghamshire countryside, and the Council spends over £600,000 a year to clear it from public land – money that could be spent on providing other services to the county’s residents.

“So, if you pay cash in hand to have rubbish removed, you’re making yourself part of the problem.”

If you’re unsure of how to make sure you’re doing the right thing when someone is taking away your rubbish, our S.C.R.A.P. fly-tipping campaign code is a useful tool:

  • – Suspect all waste carriers; do not let them take your waste until you’re confident they’re legitimate. A professional waste carrier should happily answer reasonable questions. 
  • C – Check that a waste carrier is registered on the Environment Agency’s website.
  • R – Refuse any unexpected offers to have your rubbish taken away. If you suspect that someone who approaches you will be disposing of waste illegally, report them to the Environment Agency.
  • A – Ask what will happen to your rubbish and assure yourself that it is going to be disposed of appropriately. 
  • P – Paperwork must be obtained: a proper invoice, waste transfer note or receipt, including a description of the waste being removed and the waste carriers contact details.