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From "Fantastic fossils" to the Bucks county council budget

March 17, 2017 8:46 AM

Councillor Mrs Avril Davies, Lib Dem member for Ivinghoe division, leads the opposition group on Buckinghamshire County Council. Currently this is composed of 36 Conservatives, 4 UKIP, 3 Liberal Democrats, 4 Independents and 1 Labour.


Fantastic fossils will be on display at College Lake on the first weekend in April. Fossils from the Jurassic beds excavated at College Lake, designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, are normally in storage at the Bucks County Museum Resource Centre at Halton. I have visited the resource centre twice recently as a member of the Select Committee for Transport, Environment and Communities which maintains an overview of the Museum Trust.

The centre is open to the public by appointment. College Lake is also a new venue for Active Bucks 'simply walk' on Wednesdays at 10.15 and I have enjoyed a walk with the group on a couple of occasions.

As well as getting to grips with the County Budget - see my earlier post - since the new year I have been sitting on the Health and Social Care Select Committee to understand the NHS strategic and transformation plans for Buckinghamshire Oxfordshire and Berkshire, to be implemented in the next few years.

The budget for the three counties is about £750M pa and although further investment will be made by government, about £140M of cuts need to made over the next three years. This is not as drastic as many would lead us to believe, and the NHS has to constantly change to match changing demands and new medical practice. The real problem no one ever discusses is the cost of new hospitals paid for by private finance initiatives, like mortgages, to be paid back well,over and above initial costs over 30 years or more, and repayment of old debt.

The Transport Environment and Communities select committee of which I am also a member has also examined school travel planning across County to see how the council can build on its record of reducing pupil journeys to school from 56% fifteen years ago to 26% now, and encourage even fewer journeys to school by car. This figure may seem unlikely but is collected year on year with a 'hands up' survey across the County and the work done by the school travel team holds 50% more 'gold star' awards for its success than any other council. However the county team has been depleted to one person on a fixed term contract and members are extremely worried that all the good work of the previous officer, now working for a London Borough with a huge budget, will go to waste.

Work continues on school place planning in the Ivinghoe Division. Dagnall Church of England school is currently consulting on becoming a combined school taking pupils up to the age of 11, which is one of many measures in discussion to provide more places.

Residents will be receiving an unwelcome increase in their council tax bills this year. Unlike income tax, Council tax falls heaviest on those least able to pay, but it's all we have to pay for local services. By 2020 there will be no contribution from government even for adult social care, and we don't know how the additional funds announced in the budget will be distributed, although I don't expect good news for Bucks and other counties.

About two thirds of the county council's £350 million budget is spent on social care. Half of this year's council tax increase will go into this service which supports increasing numbers of older people, and adults with learning disabilities.

By 2020 the County Council funding will all be from council tax and possibly a small percentage of business rates and none from government. In fact Bucks County Council will be required to make a contribution from council tax to the government. Since 2010 the council has cut its budget by £100 million and is continually required to make savings of about 30 million per annum. This leaves very little spare for roads and all other services such as public health, planning, environment, and education.

In the Ivinghoe division last year 12 local road repair schemes from Ledburn to Dagnall were completed. Work done ranged from patching to resurfacing, but there is still a list of urgent work while other roads deteriorate as fast as repairs catch up. This is replicated across the county perceived in a recent survey as having the worst roads in Britain, not to mention some of the heaviest traffic.

One parish in the division is already negotiating to take over minor repairs on a budget less than the pro rata estimated a transport for Bucks. The local area forum continues to work on speeding problems and is dismayed to see police numbers and resources being drastically reduced in the area.

http://avrildavies.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/03/16/county-councillors-news-for-the-ivinghoe-division-march-2017/#page-content

This is Avril's Mycouncillor website -

http://avrildavies.mycouncillor.org.uk

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