Council’s response to Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan modifications

Buckingham Town Council submitted the following response to Aylesbury Vale’s District Council’s consultation on the proposed main modifications to the proposed Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan.

The key points made by the Council are:

  • Removal of BUC051 – which is reserve site M in BNDP – the new modelling of traffic congestion is highly selective and does not consider whether similar unacceptable congestion would be created by other allocated sites that remain. This does not justify the removal of this site alone from VALP;
  • Western Relief Road which is part of the Buckingham Transport Strategy [BTS] has not been included in VALP, despite BTS remaining part of the evidence base for VALP.
  • Affordable Homes percentage may be retained in existing BNDP but not any future NDPs, even if there was sufficient evidence to support. Suggestion that future NDPs be included in this policy with the proviso that such a figure would need to be supported with robust evidence.
  • Request that additional evidence on (3), which was not heard at Public Hearings in July 2018, now be included in support.

Council keep their Council Tax increase to 8p per household

Buckingham Town Council has voted to increase the Council Tax raised by the Council on residents in 2020/21 by only 8.2p per household.  At the Town Council meeting on Monday 13 January councillors voted to raise £903,990 through Council Tax in total.  This equates to an increase of 8.2p per week for a band D property, a rise of £4.31 or 2.62% per property, in line with RPI.  Some of the increase will be provided by an increase in the number of homes since last year.  The Town Council also raises funding through charges, for example for use of rooms in the Lace Hill Community Centre, for burials and by charging the County Council for services provided on its behalf.

The new budget includes funding for an administrative apprentice and a Green Spaces apprentice, support for a VE Day commemoration event and design and the first repayments for the new cemetery and allotment site.  The Council provides a wide range of services compared to those run by neighbouring councils, including:

  • Public toilets in Cornwalls Meadow and Chandos Park
  • Tourist Information Centre
  • Shopmobility
  • Lace Hill Sports and Community Centre
  • Brackley Road Cemetery
  • Bourton Park
  • 5 play areas
  • Annual programme of over 20 events including the fireworks display and Fringe Week
  • Defending and refreshing the Buckingham Neighbourhood Plan
  • Providing grants to local community groups

The council is continuing to invest in ways of lowering its impact on the environment through investments including solar panels, electric vehicles and LED lights.

The Town Mayor, Councillor Mark Cole JP, said, “Buckingham Town Council has worked hard to keep local taxes as low as possible, and this has been helped by the revenue which new housing is bringing to the town. As the five county and district councils merge into one unitary authority, Buckinghamshire Council, on May 1st to reduce costs, and this combined with our bidding to take over more services ourselves will hopefully allow us to find more ways of working together to provide value for money to householders in the future.”

The other Councils, Crime & Police Commissioner and Fire Authority set their own Council Tax rates and increases.

 

Lace Hill Sports Pitches and Dog Walking

Keep Dogs Off the Pitches poster

We welcome everyone at Lace Hill Sports Pitches, this is a communal space that we want all residents to be able to enjoy. Buckingham's parks are one of its best assets and the Council works hard to maintain them and to create green spaces that work for everyone, including those exercising and dog walkers.

At the moment the Council is reviewing how best to ensure that everyone can enjoy the Lace Hill playing fields, and below are some of the most common questions that have been raised.

The playing fields at Lace Hill were paid for by section 106 funds, this is money that developers must pay when they build large numbers of houses to improve the infrastructure of an area.

The funding was for two sports pitches associated with the Sports Centre and the school. In the first stages of the housing at Lace Hill being built there may not have been sports teams visibly using the space, but several sports clubs now hire the space to use for training and official match games.

Buckingham Town Council took over the Lace Hill Sports & Community Centre and the playing fields from the developer in 2016. This means that the cost of maintaining the Centre and the Fields comes out the Council Tax paid by everyone in Buckingham and not just members of Lace Hill.

The housing maintenance fee paid separately by Lace Hill residents does not cover the Lace Hill Sports & Community Centre or the pitches.

In 2019, Buckingham United Football Club made an agreement with the Town Council that they would take over the maintenance of the sports pitches themselves. This means that they can maintain them to a higher standard without any extra cost to tax payers. As part of this agreement they also put up fencing around one of the pitches, which will be removed at the end of each season.

Other sports clubs also use the fields for training sessions and official match games, and pay a hire cost which contributes towards the cost of the maintenance of the area.

The playing fields are used by several sports teams for training and official match games, including by children learning how to play football, rugby and other field sports.

There have been repeated incidents where the presence of out of control dogs have put children in danger:

  • Owners have allowed their dogs to foul on the pitches and not cleared it up, which is a significant risk to children as dog poo contains harmful parasites that can make children unwell, and in severe cases can cause blindness.
  • Recently, owners have thrown balls for their dogs into the unfenced pitch area while children are training. This is an obviously unsafe thing to do, causing a serious risk of harm to both the children and dogs.
  • Unsupervised dogs have also run into the children's play area.

The well being of everyone who uses the playing fields is important, and the Council cannot ignore the risk currently being posed to children from dogs whose owners are not keeping their dogs under control.

Yes you can, but dogs must be kept under control and walked responsibly.

  • Always clear up after your dog, even if there is no one around. There are dog poo bins at the playing fields.
  • Keep your dog off the sports pitches.
  • Keep your dog under control, if the pitches are in use your dog should be on a lead.
  • Consider using other park spaces if you want to spend time with your dog off lead.

This is because the unfenced area is still a sports pitch. In fact, this is the pitch most commonly used by children training, who are particularly at risk from out of control dogs.

If there are continued issues with dogs in this area the Council will have to consider firmer action.

Twinning with Neukirchen-Vluyn

Buckingham Twinning Association and Buckingham Town Council are pleased to announce that the German town of Neukirchen-Vluyn have agreed to a formal twinning arrangement with Buckingham.  It was over 7 years ago when an informal friendship agreement was made between the Mayors of Buckingham and Neukirchen-Vluyn, when signed an agreement in the Council Chamber in Buckingham.  Harald Lenssen was Burgermeister of Neukirchen-Vluyn and Ruth Newell was then Mayor of Buckingham.  Members of the Twinning Associations of the two towns have been meeting up over many years, as both towns are already twinned with Mouvaux in France.  In recent years there have been more joint activities with Neukirchen-Vluyn and after checking with both twinning associations that they would like to move to a formal twinning, Ruth Newell proposed and Howard Mordue seconded the motion to progress to a formal twinning agreement, which was agreed by the Town Council.  This then needed to be agreed at 2 different meetings at Neukirchen-Vluyn, so Buckingham are delighted that it has been agreed.

The next step will be that the formal agreements will be signed by the two Mayors at ceremonies both in Buckingham and Neukirchen-Vluyn during 2020.  Buckingham Mayor Councillor Mark Cole JP has recently written to Burgermeister Harald to say how pleased he was to hear that it had been agreed and that he will be honoured to come to Neukirchen-Vluyn to sign the agreement in February 2020 and that the twinning is a positive move to ensure that our relationships with our European friends continue far into the future.

In the meantime, activities continue between the two towns, and Sue Watkins, who has been an active participant and host to our visitors from Germany, is proud to be Chair of the Twinning Association at this important time.

The Association organises reciprocal small group visits and often have a stall selling English products at one of the  markets in Neukirchen-Vluyn. Here in Buckingham they  have coffee,  croissants and German cake in February each year which is always  a very popular event. Another event not to be missed is the annual Buckingham Boules  Tournament in July.

Do please join the Twinning Association if you would like to be an active participant, and attend the many events on offer.

The Association has a website and Facebook page, and the Membership Secretary Sue Watkins can provide more details via membership@buckinghamtwinning.org.uk.