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February 2015
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Another view from the county
By Martin Baxter

It certainly has been a wonderful year for the Chilterns (including the excellent work of CRAG) and the County Council ‘Future Shape’ programme seems so positive. However there were a couple of things that we in The Lee probably missed.

It is welcome that Bucks is “6th out of 150 local authorities for children living in poverty” (not sure what it means but see Tricia Birchley’s article in the December 2014 newsletter: Ed) but that means that in our wealthy county 11% of children (or about 13,000) live in poverty and about 9,000 are eligible for free school meals. I am not very proud of those statistics and I was thinking about how they coped at Christmas. Incidentally research shows that most of these will be within working families.

At the end of the Autumn Term I made a governor visit to a primary school (in a leafy area) and the head teacher mentioned a family with which they can now communicate. This is because the eight year old can read. This is unlike her locally educated white British parents who are in full time employment and, other than their names, they can neither read nor write and are too embarrassed to accept any help. Yes, this is 2015.

I then picked up the local paper to find that yet another secondary academy has failed the Ofsted test. Unfortunately the selective system does not ‘raise standards across the spectrum’, at least not for local children, because over 50% of grammar school places are allocated to children who live beyond the county boundary. Then of course Ofsted has judged the Buckinghamshire Children’s Service to require special measures and an additional £8 million have had to be found to help it recover. It feels a bit like horses bolting and stable doors.

I just have to mention the roads: why is it that the stretch of Chesham Lane between Chartridge and Kings Ash cannot be repaired properly? It is just basic science but unless we get it done properly this busy section of road will remain characteristic of those in developing nations. Not to worry, the Government has allocated £10,250 for Buckinghamshire roads. That might just pay for the Chartridge Lane stretch. I wonder how is it that buckets of money can be found for HS2 but so little for the local roads.

I hope that 2015 will be another wonderful year for the Chilterns.

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