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December 2011
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By County Councillor Tricia Birchley

Walking through the beech woods this winter makes me think what a brilliant season it has been for the flora in the Chilterns. Such a mild autumn made the leaf fall very late and we enjoyed some really spectacular colours before the leaves finally fell in early November.

The County Council is determined to address the proposed changes to planning legislation to protect the AONB from unwanted development and preserve our unique landscapes.

At County Hall we are finalising the revenue and capital budgets for 2012/13. Thanks to careful management of funds this year such as amalgamating the senior management structure across Transportation, Planning, Environment and Development and transforming the way we deliver day care, we are able to keep our costs lower without reducing services. The Council’s priority is to maintain the current level of expenditure on roads again next year and whilst the improvements are evident, much more work remains to be done especially on minor roads. I am hopeful that the work scheduled on Kings Lane will be completed early in the New Year. (Don’t forget that during heavy snow you can follow the Council’s gritters online).

Doubtless you will have studied the Transport Select Committee report into HS2 which says the project should go back to the drawing board for a major rethink. The findings strongly validate the concerns raised by the County Council stating that no decision should be made until there has been a comprehensive appraisal on the full ‘Y’ network to Leeds and Manchester. It raises fundamental issues on the environmental case and calls into question the scheme’s deeply flawed business case, which claims HS2 would regenerate the economy and bridge the north/south divide. It states that “it is unacceptable for a debate on such major decisions to be conducted through a series of winks and nods in the Press”. You may have seen excerpts in the Daily Mail of my letter to Conservative MPs urging them to scrap HS2 at a time when there is desperate pressure on our public finances.

Please let me know if I can raise your concerns with officers at the County Hall. 

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