Main issues from Transport, Environment and Communities Select Committee

Buckinghamshire County Council’sTransport, Environmentand CommunitiesSelect Committee holds the county’s decision-makers to account for the quality of the services they provide. The committee Chairman is David Carroll.

Here’s a summary ofthe main issues before the committee meeting yesterday (Tuesday 27 September 2016).

First two years of Bucks County Museum Trust

An update on the first two years of operation as a charitable trust, from Ruth Page, Cultureand Leisure Services Development Manager, and Museum Director Richard de Peyer.

Buckinghamshire County Council recognised the Aylesbury-based museum and resource centre at Halton as a valued but a non-statutory service, and three years ago budget challenges necessitated an operational review and a look at the potential of alternative operating models.

Select Committee heard of progress so far, and of the benefits of trust status, which included developing a new set of skills and expertise from the charity and business communities to bring cultural change and develop new business, and financialsavings through charitable rates relief, charity fund-raising, Gift Aid and sponsorship.

They also heard about opportunities for the future, including building on volunteer opportunities andengagement with the county’s Muslim communities.

Select Committee Chairman David Carroll said: ‘There’s a lot of work to do and many challenges ahead but we need to look after the museum – one the jewels in our crown.’

Full report:

Webcast at 1min 49secs:

First 18 months of joint Trading Standards Service

An update on the first 18 months of operation as a joint Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards service, by Amanda Poole, Assistant Head of Trading Standards, andSteve Ruddy, Head of Trading Standards.

Select Committee heard how the two County Councils’ Trading Standards teams had formed a partnership in April 2015 toharness their collective expertise to give consumers even stronger safeguards and businesses an even better service. The combined serviceaimed to have greater impact locally through shared expertise and a stronger profile nationally.

Benefits, the committee heard, had been seen in an increase to 83 income-generating Primary Authority Partnerships, the capacity to undertake large-scale investigations, a wider pool of officers to help deal with an animal disease outbreak, savings on eliminating duplication.

Outstanding achievements, the committee heard,were in work onprotecting vulnerable consumers through investigations into fraud, money laundering, safety issues, animal welfare, counterfeiting and unfair commercial practices. These had led to convictions with jail terms totalling 13 years, unpaid work orders of 550 hours, fines and proceeds of crime being confiscated from perpetrators. More than £200,000 had been returned to victims.

Select Committee Chairman David Carroll said: ‘This is a perfect example of good partnership working for the benefit of our communities. I congratulate staff in both councils for helping to make it work.’

Full report:

Webcast at 1hr 3min 43sec:

Growth in Buckinghamshire

An overview from Rachel Wileman, Head of Strategic Plan and Infrastructure, of the growth proposals for Buckinghamshire outlined in District Councils’ Local Plans and also the County Council’s consultation responses.

Select Committee members heard how projected growth would affect the need for infrastructure – roads, flood defences, schools, medical facilities, sport, recreation and open spaces – on which the County Council has a statutory role.

They heard how growth in population across Buckinghamshire to 2031 would bring around 45,000 new homes, many of which are already built or being built,and about the possible impact of growth in the population, particularlydoublingthe number of over-65s by 2031, on County Council services.

Select Committeemembersdecided to go intogreater detail of growth at a dedicatedmeeting in the future. They are keen to explore the implications for County Council services in the future and gain a deeper understandingof the work already underway in preparing for growth.

Select Committee David Carroll said: ‘This is an enormous challenge and we need towait until the local plans are prepared, and we’ll thenscrutinise it more closely.’

Report in presentation format: Powerpoint presentation by Rachel Wileman to Select Committee

Webcast at 1hr 44min 8sec