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 it's 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.

13,000 new roach, chub and dace added to the River Great Ouse

Upper Great Ouse pollution recovery

The Environment Agency stocked 7000 roach, 5000 dace and 1000 chub as part of the recovery plan to help restore 25km of the river after it was affected by a major pollution incident in June 2018. These fish are all two summers old and ranged between 5 and 15cm.

These fish are really important, they will continue to kick start the fishery, adding to previous stockings from 2018 and earlier this year. Other efforts driving to improve the recovery of the river includes:

– Improving marginal features, creating planted berms and large in-channel features which provide cover and foraging areas for fish and other wildlife

– Working with landowners to carry out in river enhancement that increase flow speeds to reduce silt deposits and encourage natural processes. These improve fish spawning and invertebrate communities.

– Removing barriers to help fish migrate naturally, speeding up the recovery. We are funding the appraisal of a major barrier to improve fish passage in the middle of the affected length.

To learn more about how you can be involved in caring for the river in Buckingham, read about the River Wardens scheme on our Buckingham Parks page.

2019 Christmas Parade road closure and the Community Fair

Buckingham Christmas Parade

Organised by the Christmas Parade Committee and sponsored by Buckingham Town Council, the annual Christmas Parade has been running for over 30 years.

This year the theme for the parade is ‘Musicals’. Over 50 floats, walkers and marching bands will line up on Chandos Road before setting off at 10:45am to make their way through the town centre before returning to Chandos Road.

Buckingham Town Council organises the road closure and diversions. These will be in place for the town centre and the parade route from 10:15am until approximately 12:30pm. Buses will stop serving the bus station in the town centre from 10am as well as Maids Moreton. Notices are being placed on the bus stops showing where the buses have been re-routed to.

There will be free parking in the town centre on the day.

Chairman of the Town Centre & Events Committee, Cllr Andy Mahi said that he is ”looking forward to joining the parade marshals, and hopes that that everyone enjoys watching or taking part in the parade.”

Alice in wonderland float at the Christmas ParadeRoad Closures:

The Road Closure Order covers the following areas between 7am and 2pm on the 14th December 2019:

  • High Street (North) – between the junction with Moreton Road and Paynes Court (excluding Paynes Court itself)
  • High Street (North) – Paynes Court to North End Square (excluding Paynes Court itself) This includes the bus stand
  • High Street (South) – between the junction with Moreton Road and the junction with Stratford Road
  • Market Hill (North) – between the junction with Moreton Road and the junction with West Street
  • Market Hill (South) – between the junction with Moreton Road and the Bull Ring
  • The lay-by at the Old Gaol  taxi rank at night
  • Bull Ring – in its entirety
Map showing the route of the Christmas Parade

Road Closure Map Buckingham Christmas Parade

  • Market Square – all – between the Bull Ring and the junction with West Street/Bridge Street, including the lay-by outside the White Hart Hotel
  • Bridge Street – all – from the junction with Market Square to the junction with Bourton Road
  • London Road – both sides – between the junction with Bridge Street and the junction with Chandos Road
  • Chandos Road – all – between the junction with London Road and the junction with Station Road
  • Station Road – all – between the junction with Chandos Road and the junction with Hunter Street
  • Western Avenue – between Grenville Road and the junction with Brackley Road

The roads with a full road closure are shown as red on the map. Other town centre areas will have restricted access. Alternative routes for vehicles affected by the closures will be clearly signposted. Including a one-way system on School Lane and Castle Street and Addington Road.

Buckingham Community Fair

Organised by Buckingham Town Council, the annual Community Fair will take place in the Community Centre on Saturday 14th December from 11:30am to 2pm after the Christmas Parade.  The fair has been particularly successful in recent years, when it has also followed the parade.

The Community Fair gives local people an opportunity to buy gifts, cards and Christmas goods from local charities, groups and societies, ensuring that money spent on Christmas also benefits local good causes.  Those taking part this year include The Buckingham Canal Society, Buckingham Men In Sheds, Buckingham Twinning Association, RAF Benevolent Society, MIND, The Oli Hilsdon Foundation, Buckingham District Girlguiding, ENCRISCO, Buckingham Fairtrade, Arthritis Research, Open House.  Refreshments will be provided by the Inner Wheel.

The Vice Chairman of the Town Centre & Events Committee Cllr Terry Bloomfield said, “I am delighted that we are again able to hold the Community Fair in conjunction with the Christmas Parade, giving everyone the perfect opportunity to support local groups with their gift buying, while getting warm and having a mince pie after the Parade.”

Stall at the community fair

New Christmas Lights for Buckingham Town Centre

Christmas Lights above M&Co on Buckingham Market Hill Despite freezing cold temperatures Saturday evening, a large crowd turned out to see the Buckingham Christmas Lights turned on by Town Mayor Cllr Mark Cole on Saturday evening (Saturday 30th November).

The Christmas Lights are provided by Buckingham Town Council.  This year the Council has invested in all new icicle lights for the town centre.  The town is looking crisper and more festive than ever this year!  The Christmas tree is provided as always by Aylesbury Vale District Council.

Mayor Mark Cole JP and Mrs Cole with the town centre Christmas treeThe presentation of the Buckingham Trader of the Year took place before the festivities got under way.  Awards went to Pasha and Courtyard at No.6 who this year were joint winners.  The Market Trader Of The Year award went to Nigel Price who has had a stall on Buckingham market for more than 30 years.

There were performances by the Children’s Performing Arts School, Buckingham Stagecoach, who provided a lovely solo of Away In A Manager from the upstairs window of the Old Gaol. Other performances were by The Buckingham Children’s Choir, Buckingham Rock Choir, Great Horwood Silver Band.  Dean Jones the Bard of Buckingham sang a song he had written for the occasion.  The chorus, “Switch the Lights On!” was sung with particular feeling by the crowd.  The Rev Will Pearson-Gee gave a short talk on the meaning of Christmas.  The lights were then switched on by Town Mayor Cllr Mark Cole.  There was also a special appearance by Father Christmas.

Old Gaol and the town centre Christmas Tree 2019

An events feedback form has been made available on the Town Council website, which can be used for all Town Council Events from now onwards.  All comments will be taken on board; the Council is always looking for ways to improve the events held in the town.

Chairman of the Town Centre & Events Committee Cllr Andy Mahi said, “it is fantastic to see the town so well lit this year.  A massive thank you to everyone who made the event happen, all the children and adults who took part, and the hard work and dedication shown by Buckingham Town Council staff in the lead up to the event.

Winter 2019 Buckingham Newsletter out for delivery now!

The Winter 2019 Buckingham Town Matters Newsletter is now available!

This month’s edition covers the winners of the Buckingham Photography Contest, the Pictures of the Buckingham Town Matters Winter 2019 newsletterClimate Crisis Action Plan, upcoming event, the Bard of Buckingham and becoming a Councillor.

We’ve also included a Business Special, with more information about local enterprise schemes, tourism in Buckingham and the local Traders’ Association.

The newsletter is available digitally, or if you prefer to listen, an audio version of our newsletter is available via soundcloud, alongside previous editions of the newsletter.

Downloadable Carol Sheet: Christmas Light Switch On 2019

Christmas Tree outside the Old GaolWe’re getting ready for the Christmas Light Switch On this Saturday! A packed event with performances from Children’s Choirs, The Bard of Buckingham and the presentation of the Trader of the Year Award from the Buckingham Society.

This year we’ve got a downloadable PDF of the carol service so that everyone can sing along!

There’s also a market in the cattlepens with crafts, hot chesnuts, street food and a children’s ride. Come and celebrate the start of the festive season with us on saturday.

Looking for an apprenticeship?

 

Buckingham Town Council Job Vacancy logoBuckingham Town Council has been working with Aylesbury College to recruit an Apprentice Office Administrator to join our office team. As a Town Council this is a great opportunity to get started in a varied role, involving office administration, events, committees, marketing and more.

The weekly wage will be £160.95.

The role is 37 hours per week. Mainly Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm although there will be some weekend and evening work for events and committees. All extra hours will be taken as time off in lieu.

Some of the tasks will include:

  • Answer phone calls politely and deal with queries quickly and efficiently, taking messages for staff and Councillors
  • Distribute town leaflets to the Tourist Information Centre and other outlets
  • Attend Council functions, assist where necessary and take photos
  • Monitor, order and maintain the levels of stationery
  • Provide general administrative support for Buckingham Town Council office and other departments as and when required (including typing, sending faxes, photocopying, shredding, filing, proof reading, archiving)
  • Update the Electoral Roll and arrange for Welcome Packs to be sent to new residents
  • Take care of invitations on behalf of the Mayor
  • Take Chamber bookings and keep the calendar up-to-date
  • Update the Town Council’s website and social media as instructed
  • Deal with the public in a polite and helpful manner
  • Attend training courses in accordance with identified training requirements
  • Assist with arrangements for the youth council
  • Assist at events such as Bonfire and Fireworks, Christmas Lights switch-on and the Council’s music festivals

Please apply via the Centre for Apprenticeships website

If you have any queries about this role, please contact the Deputy Town Clerk, Claire Molyneux.