Despite the dual challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic and the launch of a new unitary authority, Buckinghamshire Council has delivered on its key promises and made its first year a successful one.
The Council set itself a clear goal of ‘working to make Buckinghamshire the best place to live, raise a family, work and do business’, and during the last 12 months, solid progress has been made towards achieving this goal.
This has included delivering notable achievements such as the major support it has given to residents, particularly the most vulnerable during the pandemic, as well as working with the local NHS to support them during the crisis and partnering to deliver the vaccination programme across Buckinghamshire.
Specifically, the Council was instrumental in:
- Co-ordinating over 1,800 volunteers to help their neighbours and local communities.
- Launching the Buckinghamshire Local Support Hub Model, providing support to over 5,000 shielding residents.
- Completing over 21,500 ‘keep in touch’ calls to vulnerable adult social care clients in partnership with the voluntary community sector.
The Council has also worked with partners such as the Thames Valley Local Resilience Forum Strategic Coordinating Group, other local authorities, healthcare providers and emergency services to provide a combined response to Covid both locally and further afield.
As well as support to all residents during Covid, the new Council has maintained a strong focus on ‘business as usual’ such as continuing their waste collection services, keeping their Household Recycling sites and Country Parks open, joint working with the voluntary and community sector to provide support at local level, and virtually eliminating rough sleeping across the county area.
Other initiatives by Buckinghamshire Council have included:
- Enhancing their leisure services, for example by progressing the construction of the new Chilterns Lifestyle Centre in Amersham. Opening this autumn, this state-of-the-art leisure and community facility will be home to a swimming pool, spa, gym, library, nursery and café.
- Fighting Climate Change by agreeing an ambition to plant 500,000 new trees on Buckinghamshire Council’s own landholding over the next 10 years. This is one tree for every Buckinghamshire resident.
- Establishing a strategic funding group that has brought in approximately £2 million of external funding to support the local community sector.
- Starting the development of a new Buckinghamshire wide Local Plan which will identify future housing, business and environmental needs.
- Developing an economic recovery prospectus for Buckinghamshire and submitting it to Government.
- Launching a 12-month Government approved e-scooter trial in Aylesbury and High Wycombe. The bright yellow Zipp e-scooters are already helping to provide a greener alternative to car trips by decreasing congestion and improving air quality.
- Changing waste collection partner in the south of the county to improve the quality of the service provided.
- Bringing together residents, voluntary groups, charities, businesses and councillors at a local level by launching 16 new Community Boards to understand community priorities and find ways of addressing them. These priorities range from mental health and wellbeing support for young people, to providing food parcels for residents in need.