County Councillor Avril Davies’s Report July 2015

Ivinghoe Conservation Area

I am elated and extremely relieved that the revised Ivinghoe conservation area policy has passed all the hurdles, and been agreed at Aylesbury Vale District Council. This is an excellent piece of work and well worth investing in a copy if you are interested in the history of the village. Ivinghoe was one of the first villages in Aylesbury Vale to be designated a conservation area because of its outstanding merits, but being an early prototype, did not benefit from the scholarship, architectural expertise and planning policies that informed later conservation areas. The revision was long overdue and thanks are due to Karen Groom, chairman of Ivinghoe Parish Council, who left nothing to chance, and attended the final decision making cabinet meeting to leave the Councillors in no doubt of the importance and value of the conservation area to residents.


On Wednesday July 8th I gave the new cabinet member for transportation at Bucks County Council a personal guided tour of the Ivinghoe Division. Not only had I pleaded with him at Council, only half in jest, for the whole of the £3M released from council reserves for highway maintenance, to be spent in Ivinghoe Division, but also as a new broom his interest had been sparked by his  meeting with Edlesborough Northall and Dagnall campaign group to downgrade the A4146 to a B road, who raised all the HGV routing issues that beset this corner of the County.
The downgrade is being pursued by Hertfordshire county council, but the officers at Bucks, although sympathetic, are adamant that such a step must not divert traffic on to other roads, particularly the B488. There would be an opportunity, with the opening of the A505 link from Leighton Buzzard to the M1 - the Dunstable North bypass - but it would need co-ordinate signage and changing the designation of the Stoke Hammond Bypass from the A4146 to the A505. The three counties involved are working on this to see how this could be implemented.

Preventing Child Sexual Exploitation.

I am participating by special invitation from the chair of the Education, Skills and Children's Services Select Committee review of this hot topic. R U Safe?and RUWise2it? are not services or campaign slogans operating in a vacuum. The police have told us that two children out of three from pre school onwards are vulnerable to this through the use of social media and on line games. The job of the select committee is to see if the Council is taking every action it can to make people aware, and protect children and young people by whatever means appropriate. There are many opportunities on offer to learn about internet safety, so take them if you can. The recent Old Bailey trial of several men from the Aylesbury Area only shows how hard it is to bring perpetrators to justice. I know personally that the County Council and Thames Valley Police have been taking preventative action and working to get robust enough evidence to bring people to court since at least 2005 when I requested a meeting about this because of some information I had been given.

Bucks County Council Annual Debate

The debate, postponed from May when the Parliamentary Select Committee was visiting the route of HS2 in Bucks, hosted on July 16th by Professor Tony Travers speaking on the theme of challenges and opportunities facing local government, followed by a debate on the Bucks Strategic Plan. As leader of the opposition I decided to respond to the leader from a presentation I made on behalf of Bucks CC at the Local Government Association Conference, on the findings of the national scrutiny development project in which Buckinghamshire participated, looking at the challenges for transparency and accountability in a council that commissions services from external providers, and the high risks councils need to manage where local government has been taking and continues to take nearly three quarters of government spending cuts, along with a five year and ongoing freeze in council tax.

Beacon Villages Community Library

Everyone involved in the library was very sorry but quite understanding that Emma Huxley decided to stand down as chair after more years than she had bargained for setting the library on a successful course for the future. Emma has done an amazing job with competence and charm, but with a two year old and a full time job in London there are limits! Thank you for everything Emma, and don't forget us. Meanwhile  I have taken over the reins as chair, and new members have joined the management committee. My next challenge is to remember to put all the news and activity on the Facebook and Twitter accounts - or better still find someone else to.

The library plays a central role in our villages. As well as books don't forget you can use expensive software free of charge such as for family history, the driving test theory practice, and Which? The VE fun day garden party was a lovely addition to our events calendar, the Library Lunches (in Cheddington) are a regular feature, and BeaconLit literary festival day had an amazing third year at Brookmead school, with participants still tweeting and blogging about it.

Avril Davies,
County Councillor,
Ivinghoe Division,
Bucks County Council.

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