On 25 July 2019, the five current councils held a special debate to begin the task of shaping the key priorities for the new authority’s ‘to do’ list. Members of the public were invited to submit their questions and comments in advance or ‘live’ during the meeting.
As the debate generated so many questions, we ran out of time to answer them during the session. The questions have since been collated into key themes, and the answers can be found below.
- Pay policy
- Number of members
- Strategic planning and priorities
- Devolution of services
- Protecting rural areas of Buckinghamshire and biodiversity
- Green transport provision
- HGV transport
- Transport routes
- Household recycling
- Council tax
- School provision
- SEND provision
- Community safety
- Hospital parking
- Transfer of a parish to another county
- Cabinet structure (i.e. new cabinet member for environment)
- Accessible communications
- Savings related to the creation of the new council
Details of the pay policy for each of the current councils can be found on their respective websites (links below) and will be updated for the latest tax year in due course.
Aylesbury Vale District Council
Buckinghamshire County Council
Chiltern District Council
South Bucks District Council
Wycombe District Council
The proposed Pay Structure and Terms & Conditions for the leadership of the new Buckinghamshire Council (Tiers 2 and 3) were discussed at the Shadow Executive on 23 July. The paper discussed by the Shadow Executive can be found here.
Number of members
The new Buckinghamshire Council will have 147 elected members, three per current council ward. This was determined by Government when the decision to create a new council for Buckinghamshire was finalised. Elections will take place in May 2020, ensuring councillors for the new council are democratically elected and accountable.
The new Buckinghamshire Council is also looking to strengthen local connections with communities by setting up community boards. These would help the new council understand and respond to local needs more effectively. For more information, and to have your say (Consultation closes: 30 September) on the proposal, please see the community boards consultation page.
Strategic planning and priorities
The Shadow Authority is in the process of developing a corporate plan and the strategic priorities for the new Buckinghamshire Council. This will be finalised before the new council goes live on 1 April 2020, and will be available to view on the Shadow Authority website.
Devolution of services
Currently 87 town and parish councils throughout Buckinghamshire deliver devolved services, such as urban grass cutting. These contracts were due to expire in March 2021.
At the Shadow Executive meeting held on 23 July, it was agreed that existing funding agreements would be extended for a further two years. Existing agreements will therefore continue on the current terms until 31 March 2022. This will ensure continuity of service while the new council puts together a new offer for town and parish councils.
A number of workshops were held across the county in June 2019 to help understand and shape how town and parish councils would like to work with the new Buckinghamshire Council from 1 April 2020. A report providing a summary of the key messages arising from these initial engagement events is available to download.
A summary report of the archaeology and history of thirty towns and villages in Buckinghamshire and the unitary authority of Milton Keynes can be found here:
Protecting rural areas of Buckinghamshire and biodiversity
The five existing councils are all members of the Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Natural Environment Partnership made up of over 40 organisations which work to protect and enhance local wildlife. This partnership has developed a Biodiversity Action Plan which aims to create a landscape beneficial to both people and wildlife.
Buckinghamshire County Council currently arrange with contractors to cut grass in rural areas and with the district councils in urban areas. Funding is allocated annually through the routine highways maintenance budget to ensure that grass cutting is continued throughout the growing season.
Further details will need to be agreed by the new authority.
The majority of roads in Buckinghamshire are currently maintained by Buckinghamshire County Council, and from 1 April 2020 will be maintained by the new Buckinghamshire Council.
Over £200m has been spent on Buckinghamshire’s roads and this year will see another £18m spent. The current plane and patch programme has addressed many areas.
Any defects can be reported to the council via Fix My Street.
Green transport provision
Buckinghamshire is taking part in trials for wireless car charging over the next two years, helping to encourage electric car use. Funding from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles has gone towards the installation and switch-on of 20 pay-as-you-go hubs.
The government are consulting on proposals to alter existing residential and non-residential buildings regulations to include electric vehicle infrastructure requirements and in addition has introduced new legislation which will exempt zero-emission capable taxis from higher vehicle excise duty.
Buckinghamshire County Council’s current freight strategy can be found here. Any changes to this strategy will be for the new authority to review.
Many bus routes in Buckinghamshire will need ongoing financial support from the new Buckinghamshire Council to operate (currently this is provided by the county council). We need to plan carefully to make sure we use this money as effectively as possible.
The recent rural bus survey received 2,048 responses and the data is currently being analysed. Any proposed bus service changes will be consulted on later this year and information will appear here.
Hundreds of thousands are spent each year by the four district councils on litter picking. In 2019, the councils took part in a national campaign organised by Keep Britain Tidy. The Great British Spring Clean is the biggest mass-action environmental campaign in the country and this year it ran from Friday 22 March to Tuesday 23 April.
Community/volunteer litter picks can currently be supported by the district councils with collection of bagged waste.
Non-household waste is expensive for councils to dispose of. We recognise that many householders carry out small projects from time-to–time and applying a small charge allows us to continue accepting these types of non-household waste.
A service review by the county council highlighted that there was no evidence of a link between changes to household recycling centres and increase in fly-tipping. Other local authorities who have made charges have not seen increases linked to household recycling centres either.
For details of household recycling and waste arrangements in your area, please check the relevant website below:
Aylesbury Vale District Council
Chiltern District Council
South Bucks District Council
Wycombe District Council
We will ensure any changes to household recycling arrangements are communicated with residents as soon as possible.
The level of Council Tax will be for the new Authority to determine. Levels of Council Tax are subject to numerous factors and local circumstances, including geographic area, demographic make-up and levels of deprivation.
Currently each district council has a different scheme that gives slightly different levels of council tax reduction for people with a low income. The aim for the new Buckinghamshire Council is to have one scheme supporting those who are eligible for a reduction on their council tax bill across the whole of Buckinghamshire.
Find out more about the proposed changes and have your say: https://shadow.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/consultations/counciltaxreduction/. (Consultation closes Tuesday 24 September 2019).
Information on the planning obligations for school provision by the council can be reviewed here. If you would like to discuss the potential requirement for an education contribution for a particular site or have any other queries, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Buckinghamshire Local Offer has been developed with parents, carers, young people and professionals to provide clear, detailed and accessible information about services and support available and to ensure that young people with SEND and their parents and carers are listened to when local services are developed and reviewed. This is reviewed by the Buckinghamshire Family Information Service: email@example.com. The County Council completed a SEND Review last year and then consulted on the SEND Strategic Priorities for 2017-2020: https://www.bucksfamilyinfo.org/kb5/buckinghamshire/fsd/advice.page?id=ginScCY9QWo
The statutory requirement for the annual Community Safety Agreement is delivered as a countywide plan.
Read the Safer Bucks Plan 2017-20: https://www.buckscc.gov.uk/media/4508973/safer-bucks-plan-2017-20-published.pdf
The new Buckinghamshire Council will be required, under the Crime and Disorder Act, to produce a 3 Year Partnership Plan which is refreshed annually.
Any decision to charge for parking at hospitals is made locally by relevant NHS organisations, not the council.
Transfer of a parish to another county
Proposals for the transfer of a parish to another county can be made to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England, for decision by the Secretary of State. It is likely that the Secretary of State would only countenance such a move if widespread community support could be demonstrated. While we would want all its current parishes to remain within the county, we recognise that this would ultimately be a decision for the local community to make.
Cabinet structure (i.e. new cabinet member for environment)
The structure of the new Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet will be for the new Leader to determine. Every council service and responsibility will fall under its respective portfolio, and it is expected these will follow traditional lines (similar to other unitary councils).
We want everyone to have the chance to find out about the new Buckinghamshire Council and how any changes will affect them. We’ll also be giving you the opportunity to express your views, participate in making decisions and get involved in shaping the new council.
To do this we’ll be using different forms of communication. This includes, but is not limited to the following:
– Local newspapers
– Social media – Twitter, Facebook
– Leaflets and posters in public libraries, community centres and other public areas
– Regular emails to Town and Parish Councils, partners and other local organisations
– Existing newsletters for the current councils such as the AV Times and Wycombe Times
– Drop-in sessions at current council offices and in public areas
– Town and Parish Council newsletters
If you would like a large text or alternative format of any information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Savings related to the creation of the new council
Bringing all the councils together into one will mean we can make long term savings by reducing duplication and working smarter together, which will help us to protect services for the future.
This will also help us to meet the growing cost pressures we face as a whole area such as the growing demand for children’s services, adults services and housing growth.