Interactive debate on the growth of Buckinghamshire hailed a success

The best and most interactive so far, was how Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, Martin Tett described yesterday’s debate on growth in the County, which saw questions coming in live from Twitter, Facebook, Next Door and by e-mail.

In front of a packed audience of councillors and with a special panel of experts, the debate covered all aspects of growth from housing, jobs and protecting the environment to pressure on public services, health and the prospects for young people.

Three giant screens displayed a range of questions generated through social medialive as the debate happened. The keynote address was delivered by Ben Page, Chief Executive of market research specialists, IPSOS MORI who drew on both national and local trends and thinking.

Commenting after the event, Martin Tett said Buckinghamshire was a county that was inevitably going to grow.

“Our population will increase substantially. It will also have proportionately more young and older people and it willbe more diverse. This will bring opportunities but also challenges for all the services we provide.

“There will also be a lot more housing built in the next twenty years. How much and where it goes is the responsibility of the local District Councils. Nevertheless, the County Council will be involved with providing for much of the essential infrastructure to go with the houses including roads, schools, libraries, health services and internet access. How we plan and pay for these will be very challenging issues for Buckinghamshire.

“Of course, providing jobs will be essential if we don’t wantto become just a suburb of London. Buckinghamshire is known as the ‘Entrepreneurial Heart of Britain’ with more start up businesses than any other county. But our businesses also need good infrastructure, particularly high quality communications and skills as we look towards the new industries of the 21st century.

“A successful Bucks economy can help make a post-Brexit Britain really successful in the next twenty years. I call upon the Government to invest in Bucks and not take our economy for granted.”

Martin concluded, “Growth is a topic that affects everyone which is why I was delighted to see so many questions coming in via social media. This was our fifth annual debate and it laid a solid foundation on which to move forward with this critical agenda. We have a major job to do to get the balance right between growing the economy and protecting the fabulous beauty of the county.”

Initial figures show that the debate information and activity the Council shared via social media reachedaround 30,000people, both before and on the day of the debate.