Angela McPherson, our newly re-elected Bucks County Councillor, kindly spared some time to deliver a comprehensive report on her activities over the past year.
She also explained her roles and responsibilities and how we can best seek assistance for issues such as road maintenance. Interestingly the more individual reports from members of the public on issues requiring attention, our request will rise towards the top of a very long list of County challenges
Members of the public can report issues at this site: https://www.aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk/section/report-it
Buckinghamshire County Councillor’s Annual Report
Challenging times continue for local government with significant reductions in budgets from central government of well over 40% in last 5 years.
This impacts all services commissioned and provided by the County Council from domiciliary care for the elderly, child protection for our most vulnerable youngsters, through to home to school transport, SEN provision, libraries, roads and footpaths and much more.
Road repairs and maintenance continue to be main focus for parishes in my division which has a large network of mainly rural class C and unclassified roads. There is no getting away from the fact that many of these roads are in very poor condition and have been underfunded for many years. The Leader of BCC with other local authority leaders continue to lobby central government with some success. Authorities nationally were awarded a pothole fund but frankly it is a drop in the ocean and for the whole county is very thinly spread.
County councillors have some degree of choice locally as to which roads are resurfaced/microsurfaced (we have a choice of c. 2 roads a year) and I have tried to spread this across the twenty one villages and hamlets in my division and additionally push for improvements to the main east west road A41 which have been delivered through Kingswood. I will continue to fight hard for as much of the repairs budget as possible for our villages from the total £16m pot that covers the whole county.
HS2 and East West Rail (EWR) predominate in the north of the division. The County Council, alongside the district and parish councils and residents all played a major role in petitioning against this project but sadly Royal Assent has been granted and we are already seeing ground investigation works established around the maintenance depot area. Now it is all about mitigation and ensuring that local people have a voice and are able to hold the main contractors to account. Certainly HS2’s engagement with the communities affected has been woefully lacking to this point.
EWR whilst generally agreed to be of benefit in terms of offering better connectivity and a boost to the local economy still presents issues locally during its construction phase not least with a proposed compound in Charndon literally half a mile from HS2’s permanent infrastructure depot. Again we will be seeking the best mitigation for the villages and residents affected.
This year the County Council’s strategic planning department has been very involved in supporting the District Councils who are forming their local plans. BCC has worked in partnership producing infrastructure and sustainability plans.
At the end of last year the County Council submitted its proposals for a new Unitary Authority to the Secretary of State. ‘Modernising Local Government’ would do away with all five councils within the current county council boundary; that is BCC, AVDC, Chiltern DC, South Bucks DC and Wycombe DC. It is proposed that would all these councils would be dissolved and a new single authority formed. The proposals seek to streamline services, avoid duplication and provide significant savings, much needed in the light of the cuts handed down from the centre. We await the decision from the SoS which we hoped would be this May but may now be deferred due to the general election.
As your local councillor I have a small Community Leader’s Fund which I can use to support or kick start small community projects. I’ve been pleased to have been able to support the setting up of a youth club, defibrillators, lunch club for the elderly, local football teams and scout groups to name but a few. I’m always keen to hear about new community initiatives, and funds permitting, am happy to offer support.
It’s been a busy and challenging year but hugely enjoyable. I am proud to be your County Councillor and make every effort to keep in touch with all the villages in my division. I attend parish meetings where I can, (as there of many of them!) and hold surgeries with my district council colleagues.
I am easily contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01296 738818
County Councillor Angela Macpherson