|3 December 2021|
It’s hard to believe that it’s nearly Christmas already. I hope that you, your families and those you love are well and gearing up for the festive season!
One ‘Christmas present’ we could all do without is the new Covid variant, first identified in southern Africa, and now known as Omicron. Many people have asked why I have waited nearly a week before writing to you in connection with this? The answer is that in the week since it was first identified and named, our level of understanding of this has been very limited. Views have changed almost daily and the media has been full of lots of guesswork and supposition in connection with it. It is likely that it will be several weeks before the scientists know with greater certainty the full implications of this new variant.
What does seem to be most likely is that it is more transmissible. That means it is easier to catch than previous Covid variants. As with other variants, catching it does not necessarily mean that you would be seriously ill or need to go to hospital but it is still wise to follow government advice and take reasonable precautions. These precautions include wearing a mask when in shops or on public transport. We also know that ventilation – ensuring a flow of fresh air can make a big difference, even opening windows, doors and vents for 10 minutes to let in some fresh air can really help. This week it was confirmed that the new variant is present across much of the country and in Buckinghamshire. Our Public Health team continue to work closely with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to trace anyone who might have come into contact with those infected, who themselves are now self-isolating.
The Booster ‘jab’
The most important single thing for us all to do is to have the booster jab as soon as we are able.
The government have now made it possible to prebook your booster for all adults aged 40 and over, anyone aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts you at high risk from Covid, and frontline health and social care workers, as long as it has been 5 months (152 days) since your 2nd dose. The appointment date you will be offered will be from 6 months (182 days) after your 2nd dose.
You can find out more information and book your vaccine here.
Importantly, the government has also announced that it intends to offer boosters to all adults over 18 years of age and who have had their previous vaccination at least three months ago, by the end of January 2022. Please keep looking at the NHS website for details of when you will be able to book.
How would YOU like to see us plan for the future?
One of the most challenging roles that we have in local government is preparing a Local Plan which describes what we want Buckinghamshire to look like in years to come. This covers issues such as new housing, employment, the Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, our town centres and the environment generally, including how we manage mitigating Climate Change.
Preparing the new Local Plan for Buckinghamshire is something that national government requires us to do and it is an important way of deciding what sort of development we do want and where, and conversely what we don’t want. The way the Plan has to be done and what it contains is laid down by government. If we don’t follow this precisely then the Plan can be found ‘unsound’ and thrown out by an independent Planning Inspector. The way government want us to make the Plan may change but it is important that we make a start as it is a long process.
As a first stage in preparing the new Plan we are asking local people about the future of Buckinghamshire in a survey we have just launched. The survey, which takes only a few minutes to complete, asks about where you live, local housing needs, the local economy and you views on what should be protected and what’s precious about Buckinghamshire.
It’s the first stage of involving local people in shaping the future through the new Local Plan.
Have your say.
The survey will run until 11 February next year.
Separate Chiltern and Wycombe area food waste collections to restart from 13 December
As you will know from previous Residents’ Newsletters we had to suspend the separate collection of food waste in the former Chiltern and Wycombe areas due to the national shortage of lorry drivers, coupled with Covid-related sickness amongst crews. I am however pleased to tell you that separate food waste collections will restart from Monday 13 December. From this date, households should put out their food waste in its separate brown bin on their usual collection day.
During the suspension, food waste was taken along with general waste to the Greatmoor Energy from Waste plant for incineration, generating electricity in the process. Less than 0.1% of Buckinghamshire’s waste is sent to landfill.
Our waste contractor has worked hard to recruit new drivers, with incentives designed to retain existing staff and attract new staff to vacancies that have now been filled. This means that once more food waste will be separately collected by dedicated teams. Material will again be treated at an anaerobic digestion plant, where it generates electricity.
We want to thank residents in the Chiltern and Wycombe areas for their patience while we dealt with the impact of the nationwide shortage of HGV drivers.
Find more information about the council’s waste collections.
I hope that your Christmas shopping goes well and remember to shop locally where possible and support our Buckinghamshire town and village businesses.
With best wishes for a happy and healthy Christmas.
Martin TettLeader of Buckinghamshire Council