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By Tricia Birchley
On 4th October I unexpectedly had the opportunity of expressing our concerns about HS2 to the Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond. I told him how it was already affecting the lives of local people and the damage that the train would cause to the Chilterns AONB, bringing no benefits whatsoever to Buckinghamshire. We talked at length about the need for the train, the route, the lack of a business case and environmental report. I do know that our conversation rattled bars in the Government and it was a disappointment that the final version of the Prime Minister’s speech in Manchester had reinstated the need for HS2.
Since then I was able to obtain a ticket for the HS2 Debate in the House of Commons on 13th October. Together with the County Council I believe it is critically important to keep up the pressure on government between now and an announcement being made in December. The more people living outside the immediate area that write to their MPs complaining about the cost of the train, referred to by Philip Hammond as a rich man’s toy, the damage to the environment and the argument that it will regenerate Britain’s economy, the better!
The road repair programme is starting to make good progress; since the general election the mechanism for funding road resurfacing has changed, meaning that the Council now has a capital grant for the work, removing the cost of borrowing.
The Health and Social Care Bill currently before Parliament is due to confirm the new Clinical Commissioning Groups, with the PCT being wound up in March 2013. In Buckinghamshire health and local government colleagues are already working through the Health and Wellbeing Board to establish the needs of local residents and commission the best quality care delivered in the community. The PCT will shortly be out to consultation on the proposed changes to services delivered by our local hospitals and your views will play an important part in retaining services in the most convenient place.
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