|9 September 2021Dear Resident,|
There’s very much a ‘start of term’ feel in the air as people return to work, schools and routines post summer and it’s certainly a very busy time here in Bucks, with lots to update you on in regard to some of the main local issues.
Support for Afghan families
I know many of you will want to know of the progress of our ‘Helping Hand for Afghanistan’ refugee initiative.Having launched this only two weeks ago, we have now received pledges of over £22,000, including off-line donations. These have come from residents and businesses wanting to support refugees from Afghanistan as they start to arrive in Buckinghamshire. This money will go via the community charity, Heart of Bucks, to help provide new appropriate clothing, domestic equipment and other essentials as we welcome new arrivals into our community. I think this is a fantastic achievement and I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who has donated so far.
If you would like to donate please do so at: www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/helping-hand
In addition, we are still asking for offers of other support such as accommodation, translation skills, community support etc. At present we do not need offers of second-hand clothing. You can offer your help or support via the dedicated pages on our website.
We are still in discussion with the Government to finalise the exact number of families we could welcome. We understand family sizes are large and accommodation is needed where schooling, community support, health services and potentially employment can be best provided. If you know of suitable accommodation that will be available for approximately a year, please contact us using the above link.
We anticipate our first Afghan family arriving shortly. This may or may not receive publicity as we will respect the wishes of the family concerned, particularly if they have relatives still in Afghanistan who may be vulnerable.
Again, my sincere thanks goes to everyone who has and is helping with this important initiative.
Covid updateAfghanistan has somewhat overshadowed Covid in the news recently but I want to update you on the current position here. For the week to 1 September, the overall infection rate in Bucks was 307.3 per 100,000. This was an increase of 2% compared to the previous week. We saw an increasing trend in all former district areas, although only low numbers of actual cases. Again, school-aged children made up some 36% of cases, with the highest actual infection rates unsurprisingly amongst the socially active 16- to 18-year-olds. At the moment Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust is coping with the Covid pressures, although caution remains about the ability to cope with the need to catch up with delayed general surgery and also potential normal winter pressures. It is likely that we, along with the rest of England, will see an increase in infection numbers as children return to school.
As ever, you can get the latest local data from our Covid dashboard.
Food waste collections in Chiltern and WycombeAs you’ll have most likely seen in the news, the HGV driver shortage continues. Sadly, there’s no quick fix to this problem, mainly due to the time it takes for an HGV driver to train and gain their licence. Unfortunately, staffing levels at our waste contractor for the former Chiltern and Wycombe areas have been badly hit by this crisis. It means that we are having to extend the temporary arrangements for food waste collections in both Chiltern and Wycombe that we’ve had in place over the last four weeks.
It means people living in Chiltern and Wycombe should carry on doing what they’ve been doing in recent weeks with food waste – putting it in with their general rubbish (in the black bin). Brown food caddies will still be emptied if they’re put out on general rubbish week only, but this waste will not be recycled during this time.Collections in the rest of Buckinghamshire are unaffected and these changes only impact residents in the former Chiltern and Wycombe areas.
We know our contractor in those areas, Veolia, is working really hard to recruit new drivers including offering a big sign-on bonus. We are working with them to reinstate separate food waste collections at the earliest opportunity.
You can find out more on our recycling and waste webpages.
Road repairs by HS2 and East West Rail
I’ve previously updated on how hard we’ve been working to get both HS2 and East West Rail to compensate for damaged roads in Bucks where the damage has been caused by the increased HGV traffic connected to both projects. It’s essential that our local roads are brought up to a safe and usable standard and that the repairs costs are not picked up by the Buckinghamshire Council taxpayer where the damage and wear is down to these schemes. I’m very pleased to be able to report that as a result of our efforts, East West Rail has confirmed they’ll be starting road repair works in the Steeple Claydon area on the weekend of 18 September. These works will involve some weekend road closures but it’s anticipated the repairs will be done by mid-October. HS2 has also repaired a damaged road in Denham. We are currently entering negotiations on a number of other roads across the county.
‘See Something, Say Something, Do Something’I want to mention an important subject we’re raising awareness about at the moment here at the Council, that of ‘Adult Abuse’. A difficult topic but a really important one; it’s not just children who sadly might be at risk of exploitation or abuse but adults can also suffer too.
It’s largely spotted and reported by professionals like doctors, police officers or social workers, but we can all play a part in being alert to when something doesn’t feel quite right – and knowing where and how to raise concerns.
Abuse of adults can take a number of forms: physical or financial abuse or exploitation, neglect or mental and psychological abuse – and it can happen to anyone over the age of 18. So please, if for example you work with people and something doesn’t feel quite right, make sure you know what to do if you want to raise a concern, which can, of course, be done totally anonymously. Please remember you aren’t interfering.
You can find out more on our website about what to do if you are worried about someone you know or see regularly.
Back to schoolI want to wish all our school-aged children all the very best at the start of the new school year and want to thank all our hard-working teachers and support staff and everyone who helps provide education services here in Bucks.
It’s been such a challenging time in schools and we all hope this new academic year sees less disruption. I know that while Covid-restrictions have been lifted, many schools are still managing measures and large-scale testing to help keep everyone safe – thank you.
Seeing your Council in action
We have our first round of big Council meetings after the summer next week, discussing and considering some of the big current issues so please do take the time to join us online if you are interested in finding out more!
The meetings are broadcast live via our webcast or you can catch up online if you are not available at the time they’re on.
Find out the details by clicking on the specific meeting in our online calendar; the Council’s Cabinet meets on Monday and there’s a meeting of Full Council on Wednesday.
Email newslettersFinally, as a quick reminder, these emails are one of the best ways to keep up to date with important local information. As I’ve previously mentioned, the only way to get the emails is to sign up for them, so please do let others know if they used to get the Covid updates and want to carry on hearing about the Covid response and other important local matters – the sign up page is at: www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/signup Keep well and stay safe.Martin TettLeader of Buckinghamshire Council
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