Buckingham Town Council freezes budget

Buckingham Town Council has voted to maintain the same budget for 2021/22 as the council has provided for in the current year. At the Town Council meeting held to set the budget councillors voted to raise £903,990 through Council Tax in total, the same as for the current year. However, in the coming year the cost will be shared amongst slightly fewer people. This has been caused by an increase in the number of houses claiming Council Tax benefit, and less homes being completed in 2020 than forecast. This means that to maintain the current budget of £903,930, the annual cost for a Band D household will be £173.27, an increase of £4.21 or just over 8p per week.

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

Councillor Geraldine Collins, Mayor of Buckingham, said: “The Town Council has done its utmost to keep any increase to our residents as low as possible, whilst ensuring our services are maintained at the expected level. I hope you will agree this has been achieved.”

Buxplore is now on Google Play!

Eight months after its initial launch, Buckingham’s very own heritage exploration app Buxplore has been used by a fantastic 2,700 people! To celebrate, the app is now going to be available to download directly from the Google Play store.

Download Buxplore from the Google Play store!

This moment is a fantastic milestone for the community project, which was created by Buckingham Town Council working with local schools, the Old Gaol museum and the Buckingham Society, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players through the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Buxplore is a fun and interactive heritage exploration app. Answering questions you might have had whilst walking around Buckingham from ‘what is that?’, ‘who lived here?’ and ‘what used to be there?’ with interactive trails on a number of themes, including an introduction to local Heritage for Kids, the Stowe House parkland and a challenging murder mystery!

All of the Buxplore app routes can be completed by walking around Buckingham. Lots of users have told us that a trip out trying Buxplore has livened up their daily exercise. You can also use Buxplore from home using ‘virtual mode’ if you are self-isolating.

The Town Council is currently working on several new routes and upgrades to the app. Suggestions from the public about features you’d like to see are welcome. Please email office@buckingham-tc.gov.uk with your ideas.

Cllr. Mike Smith Chair of the Economic Development Working Group who started the project said “The Buxplore project, which has involved inputs by local groups and many individuals, has already proved to be a valuable asset for local people and visitors to fully explore our historic and picturesque town. Indeed, the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic has seen many "armchair explorers" amazed at what they could learn about their home town. Perhaps most pleasing has been the engagement of our younger townsfolk - good grounding for a lifetime of heritage appreciation.

The National Heritage Lottery Fund has certainly enabled us to create a worthwhile and engaging addition to our numerous other reasons to fully enjoy our lovely town and all it has to offer, and we are most grateful to them".

Buxplore logo
Two children touch ammonite set into a brick wall
National Lottery Heritage Fund logo

Download Buxplore from the Google Play store!

Become a Town Councillor: Stand for Election on May 6th 2021

Interested in representing Buckingham as a Councillor?

If you would like the opportunity to represent Buckingham as a Town Councillor or a Buckinghamshire Council Councillor now is the time to stand for election.

Applications to stand are called nomination papers and must be received between Monday 22nd March and 4pm Thursday 8th April. Nomination papers must be handed in, in person, to the election office in Aylesbury. Read this detailed letter to Town and Parish Council candidates for more information about the process:

Town Councillors represent Buckingham is a number of areas from the management of parks and green spaces, to acting as a consultee for planning applications and local events.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Town Councillor, come along to our open information session Monday 8th March 2021, at 7pm on Zoom. For details of how to log on and join the meeting, please email the Town Clerk at townclerk@buckingham-tc.gov.uk, If you cannot attend, or would like any more information about the role, do email us or call the office on the number below.

If you haven't done so before, you may also find it useful to attend a Town Council meeting.

The (Local) Returning Officer will be holding virtual briefings via Microsoft Teams for candidates and agents. For the Aylesbury election areas this is 4pm on Wednesday 10 March. If you’d like to attend one of the briefings please email elections@buckinghamshire.gov.uk

There is more information about Buckinghamshire Council's responsibilities and how to stand for election as a Buckinghamshire Councillor on their website.

Flooding: could you be a flood volunteer?

On 23rd and 24th December 2020, at the end of a difficult year for many, the River Great Ouse burst its banks amid extremely heavy rainfall, and serious flooding hit Buckingham.

Many local residents immediately jumped to the aid of their neighbours. From turning up with buckets or supplying water pumps to help clear water to opening their homes to those in need, many people did what they could to help. Buckingham Free Meals, led by 14-year-old Sulayman, coordinated free hot food and drinks and ongoing food parcels. The Bard of Buckingham, Dean Jones, launched a fundraiser to support those flooded with rebuilding their lives. The more than £17,000 raised will be held and distributed by the Town Council based on decisions made by an independent panel.

Staff from Buckingham Town Council joined those from Buckinghamshire Council and Transport for Buckinghamshire to help close roads, deliver sandbags and clear up the mess. It took over a week to sanitise and reopen play areas and the public toilets, as well as clearing large amounts of debris from across the parks. The Council’s Shopmobility unit was flooded, and some equipment damaged.

The Council passed on a flood alert from the Environment Agency in the morning of 22nd December. Unfortunately, the EA’s flood gauge does not appear to have been working correctly, and no Flood Warning was issued.

The Town Council are reviewing the Community Flood Action Plan. Any suggestions for changes would be gratefully received. The Council are also looking to sign up Flood Volunteers to help with future floods and other emergencies. Residents from homes NOT at risk of flooding are ideal for this role, as those directly affected are less able to immediately help others. If you are interested in volunteering please email admin@buckingham-tc.gov.uk

The Town Council now has a direct arrangement with the Bucks and Oxon Response Group (BORG) who will again be prepared to use their 4×4 vehicles to help with any future events.

National Lockdown: impact on Buckingham Town Council services

As of Tuesday 5th January, Buckingham, and the whole country, have entered a new National Lockdown. There is a summary of what this means on our Coronavirus pages, which also contain signposts for local help or a raft of issues that may be impacting on your life at this time. For detailed guidance about the lockdown restrictions please visit the government website.

There are some additional changes to Buckingham Town Council services due to the National Lockdown:

  • Play areas will remain open, however, multi-use games areas and outdoor gym equipment are now closed. Please be patient and do not use equipment while we arrange signage.
  • Buckingham market remains open for essential items.
  • The Food Fair, Pancake Races and other upcoming public events in January and February will be cancelled.
  • Shopmobility will be closed, the Shopmobility building was also impacted by the flooding just before Christmas.
  • Public toilets will remain open.

As in Tier 4 the following additional services are running differently:

  • The Tourist Information Centre and the Tourist Information Centre phone line are closed.
  • Lace Hill Sports and Community Centre is only open for a very small number of allowable bookings.
  • Town Council staff are largely working from home, apart from the Green Spaces Team who continue to work out and about. The green spaces team have worked extremely hard clearing up after the flooding on Christmas Eve. Please help keep our team safe and well by not approaching them while they are working. If you have a query, please call or email the office team, and we will help you.

 

Tier 4: Stay at Home and Buckingham Town Council services

From Sunday 20th December Buckingham became a Tier 4: Stay at home area. This means that there is a very high or very rapidly rising level of Coronavirus Covid-19 infections.

There will be some changes due to Buckingham Town Council services because of the new restrictions, while other services continue:

  • The Tuesday and Saturday Market will continue to run (apart from Boxing Day), however non-essential retail are unable to attend.
  • The Flea Market will not be running.
  • Play areas, outdoor multi-use games areas and outdoor gym equipment will stay open, and the green spaces team will continue working as usual.
  • The Tourist Information Centre and the Tourist Information Centre phone line will be closed.
  • Shopmobility will continue to be open on Saturdays. Users are asked to call in advance.
  • Lace Hill Sports and Community Centre is now closed except for a small number of exempt activities.
  • The Town Council office remains closed to drop in visitors.
  • The cemetery is available for interments as usual and in line with restrictions.

Many local businesses are offering delivery or click and collect options. If you can, please support your community by buying local this Christmas. 

Contacting the Town Council over the Christmas break

If you need to contact the Council over the break, you can call 01280 816 426 between 9.30 am and 4 pm on the following days:

  • Monday 21st December
  • Tuesday 22nd December
  • Wednesday 23rd December
  • Tuesday 29th December
  • Wednesday 30th December

Normal services will resume on Monday 4th January 2021.

Finally, we wish you the best possible time over the Christmas holiday.

We know this is a really tough time for many local residents, families and businesses. If you are struggling and need help, please reach out and ask for support.

Tier 3 restrictions and changes to Buckingham Town Council services

From Saturday 19th December Buckingham will be a Tier 3 area. This means that there is a very high or very rapidly rising level of Coronavirus Covid-19 infections.

There will be some changes due to Buckingham Town Council services because of the new restrictions, while other services continue:

  • The Tuesday and Saturday Market will continue to run (apart from Boxing Day)
  • The Flea Market will not be running.
  • Play areas, outdoor multi-use games areas and outdoor gym equipment will stay open, and the green spaces team will continue working as usual.
  • The Tourist Information Centre and the Tourist Information Centre phone line will be closed.
  • Shopmobility will continue to be open and available on Saturdays.
  • Lace Hill Sports and Community Centre bookings can continue where permitted.
  • The Town Council office remains closed to drop in visitors.
  • The cemetery is available for interments as usual and in line with restrictions.

Many local businesses are offering delivery or click and collect options. If you can, please support your community by buying local this Christmas. 

Contacting the Town Council over the Christmas break

If you need to contact the Council over the break, you can call 01280 816 426 between 9.30 am and 4 pm on the following days:

  • Monday 21st December
  • Tuesday 22nd December
  • Wednesday 23rd December
  • Tuesday 29th December
  • Wednesday 30th December

Normal services will resume on Monday 4th January 2021.

Finally, we wish you the best possible time over the Christmas holiday.

We know this is a really tough time for many local residents, families and businesses. If you are struggling and need help, please reach out and ask for support.

 

Council celebrates the decision to keep Buckingham’s last public phone box

Buckingham Town Council are celebrating the decision by Buckinghamshire Council to object to the removal of the last phone box in the town. Objections to the removal were submitted to Buckinghamshire Council by the Town Council and also Buckinghamshire Councillor Warren Whyte.

Buckinghamshire Council officers revealed in their Case Officer Report that
“A leaflet produced by BT about their policy on payphone removals states that no payphones will be identified for removal in suicide hotspots, accident blackspots, where there is no mobile coverage and within 400 metres of the coast. In addition they will not remove payphones where there is a reasonable need. For this criteria they will retain a payphone where it is the only payphone within 800 metres, which has had at least 12 calls in a 12 month period and where the local population is not fewer than 500 households within 1km of the payphone. …The data provided alongside the notification, indicates that the payphone kiosk has 6 uses per month – and therefore on average 72 uses per annum. The kiosk also appears to be in location where there are more than 500 households within 1km. In addition the nearest phone box to the notification site is in excess of one mile away, and therefore it is considered that the kiosk in question may fall into the category of having “reasonable need”, and therefore further justification would be required to overcome concerns raised.”

The phone box in question is on Market Hill opposite M & Co. The nearest remaining phone box would be in Middle Claydon. BT have to follow an agreed process when they remove the last public phone in an area, which includes requesting permission from Buckinghamshire Council.

Buckingham Town Councillors had opposed the removal of the phone box, pointing out that it is in the centre of town and accessible to all; not everyone has a mobile, or unrestricted access to a phone – such as children, vulnerable adults, or those in an abusive relationship who may need to call a helpline without the abuser knowing. The means of calling the emergency services is also vital in a town centre where accidents or medical emergencies may occur. The sparse local bus service may mean that residents of surrounding villages need to call a private hire cab if they miss their bus home for any reason.

Town Mayor Geraldine Collins said, “I am delighted that our last remaining Public Phone Box is to stay and that this vital service remains available to our community”.

Impact of Coronavirus Measures on Buckingham Town Council Services

Following the Government’s announcement of new national restrictions to reduce the spread of Covid-19, Buckingham Town Council has reduced and removed some services for the duration of the new measures.

Grounds Maintenance

The Grounds Maintenance Team are continuing to work to maintain Bourton and Chandos Parks, green spaces and the cemetery.  Burials will continue to be arranged.

Play areas will remain open and play area checks and repairs will continue.  Parents and guardians should take appropriate steps to ensure children’s safety and hygiene is projected when using equipment.

Multi Use Games Areas and adult outdoor gym equipment will be closed in line with the new restrictions.

Members of the public are asked to remember that Town Council staff have been instructed to have minimal direct contact while they are at work, so all questions about Council services should be made by phone or email wherever possible.

Markets

The Town’s markets remain very much open.  The market provides people with a low risk outdoor place to shop for essential supplies.  Stalls are placed apart from each other and socially distanced queuing remains in place.  All stall holders have been asked to make sure they have some means of hand washing at their stall which they should use regularly.  This is a great way to support local businesses at this time.

Shopmobility

The Shopmobility Service is now closed temporarily.

Tourist Information Centre

The Tourist Information Centre has been closed temporarily.  However, staff are still available to answer queries by telephone and email during working hours:

Opening Hours
Monday – Friday, 10.00am to 4.00pm
Contact Us
Phone: 01280 823 020
Email: TIC@buckingham-tc.gov.uk
Web: www.discoverbuckingham.uk

Lace Hill Sports and Community Centre

The Centre will be closed, except for a very small number of users who meet the new requirements.

Events

No Town Council events are now planned for December.  The events programme for 2021 will be reviewed in the New Year.

Town Council Office

The Town Council office is now closed to visitors.  However staff are still working and phone calls and emails will be responded to in the usual way: office@buckingham-tc.gov.uk or by phone 01280 826426.

Play Areas Open Image showing Otters Brook play area
Multi Use Games Areas closed showing roped off area
Outdoor Gyms closed sign showing trim trail in park
Stop: outdoor staff may be working in the parks, please do not approach them
Tourist Information Centre, Shopmobility and Lace Hill buildings

Moreton Road gas main replacement

Scotia Gas Networks have asked us to pass on the following message about Moreton Road roadworks.

“As you will be aware, SGN have commenced an urgent programme of work to replace gas main on Moreton Road from the junction of the High Street to Western Avenue. We will be replacing an old metal mandatory gas main with a new plastic main to ensure we can continue to provide gas safely and efficiently to the local area long into the future. This work is essential.

We apologise for not having had the opportunity to communicate with you sooner. SGN are responding to requests to prioritise this project as a matter of urgency to incorporate some of the work whilst under lockdown, this will help alleviate some of the disruption this work will have on the local community.

The following is our intended plan

2 November to 6 December (Christmas embargo)

We will be working from the junction of the High Street to the junction of Summerhouse Hill.

With the main located in the road, for the safety of road users and are engineers it is necessary to have a north bound lane closure in place around our work area. To avoid a full road closure, we will be operating multi-way traffic lights to keep local traffic moving in both directions.

Access to properties within the closure will be maintained if safe to do so, if access for any reason isn’t possible the team on the ground will advise those residents impacted in advance so alternative arrangements can be made.

6 January to completion 31 March 2021

We will return to complete the final section from Summerhouse Hill to Western Avenue.
Again it will be necessary to have a lane closure in place for the duration with traffic lights in place to allow two way local traffic.

Gas main connection to properties

There is a possibility that we will need to connect a number of services to the new main being installed. To do this our engineers will need access to your gas meter within your property. Any properties affected will be contacted in advance explaining what is needed and the team on the ground will make local arrangements. Please can we reassure you, our engineers are following strict COVID guidelines to ensure we maintain everyone’s safety. There’s more information about our coronavirus plans, as well as other ways to contact us, on our website: sgn.co.uk/coronavirus.

Diversion route – HGV and large lorries

With a lane closure in place, the width of road space available on Moreton Road during this project will not be suitable for oversized vehicles, HGV and large lorries. Advance diversion route signage will be in place on approaching roads to allow redirection. Bespoke signage at beginning of works advising access width is limited not suitable for HGV’s or lorries.

We appreciate the nature of our work is disruptive for communities, we have taken the opportunity now whilst a lockdown is in place, to try and minimise this for the community. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused by these works.

If you’d like to get in touch about our project, you can speak to our 24hr Customer Service team on 0800 912 1700.”