By County Cllr Tricia Birchley
The New Year got off to a brighter start following a very cold Christmas. Hopefully the regular updates on road gritting made travel plans easier as it was possible for the first time to monitor the current gritter routes.
In the autumn the Government indicated a cut in grants to local government for next year of 26%; however since 75% of income in Buckinghamshire is raised through council tax the proposed cuts are not as penal as first anticipated.
The Capital settlement for 2011/12 means that this year around £11.3 million will be available for road maintenance and much of the focus this year will be on the unclassified rural road network. Last month the Head of Transportation, Jim Stevens, and his team met the Hilltop Parish Councils and local businesses. We had a useful discussion, with the emphasis on the need to tackle poor road surfaces, including potholes, and clean out gullies to prevent flooding. I remain optimistic with the funds available for the next two years that we shall see a great improvement in our roads.
The Adults and Family Wellbeing portfolio is looking at strategic reconfiguration of services such as home care, libraries and day services to live within the new budget allocation of £109 million. I want to reassure vulnerable people who meet our eligibility criteria that we will provide the best possible services within the financial envelope available to us.
None of the suggestions to ameliorate the impact of HS2 will be of much significance to the AONB and we must stop it coming this way. The plan to plant two million trees could further alter our historic landscape -- and perhaps a winter leaf fall timetable would be needed between October and December, endangering journey times! A fighting fund of up to £1 million, to secure advice, surveys and instruct Counsel, is now available as and when needed from local authorities in Buckinghamshire and Hillingdon.
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