Earlier this month, Highways England announced 'Option B' as its preferred corridor for the long-anticipated Oxford-Cambridge expressway. This was one of three potential corridors identified in the National Infrastructure Commission's 2017 report and roughly follows the route of East-West rail link. Around 70% of the corridor falls within Aylesbury Vale, making it of critical importance to the council and Aylesbury Vale communities.
The government's next step will be to determine the actual route. AVDC will be working with Bucks CC, the Local Enterprise Partnerships and other partners on the route options to ensure proper mitigation for communities that are affected by the project. We will be pressing government to engage much more widely with the public community and environmental groups than it has so far.
There will shortly be an AVDC web page about the expressway, which includes links to key documents and reports.
Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan – Update for Parishes
At the end of the VALP hearing sessions the Inspector indicated that he would be sending his Interim findings to the Council in the next four to six weeks, after having given an indication that he believed that the Plan could be found sound (subject to a number of modifications).
On 29 August 2018 we received an Interim report from the examining Inspector. On 7 September 2018 we wrote to the Inspector raising various points in relation to these interim findings. The Inspector is currently considering our points, which is likely to take a couple of weeks from now.
The interim findings and our response to these are now being published as examination documents, and this note is intended to summarise the next steps.
The interim findings contain a number of points which we will need to act upon, but the most significant of these are the Inspector’s views that the housing requirement should be increased by around 1,600 and distribution should be more focused in the north of the district. Following legal advice from our QC advising that the quickest and most pragmatic course of action is to accept the Inspector’s findings, we are now beginning the process of commissioning further evidence to help us determine which site or sites would be the most suitable to meet this increased requirement and adjusted distribution.
We will prepare a series of modifications to the Plan and supporting evidence to reflect the Inspector’s interim findings, and once we have completed this work, these will be published for six weeks public consultation. Although exact timings cannot be given, we expect this to be in early 2019. The modifications, along with any comments received relating to them, will be submitted to the Inspector. The Inspector may decide it is necessary to hold further hearing sessions before finalising his report. He will then issue his final report, which we either have to accept in full, or withdraw the Plan.
2019/20 Parish Precept
It’s the time of year when you need to start thinking about your precept requirement for the 2019/20 financial year. Each Parish or Town Council is required to set a precept (how much money it would like to raise from its tax payers) based on its budget requirement.
Look out for the 2019/20 tax base information which is planned to be distributed during the third week of October. For experienced Clerks you will know what this process entails but for new Parish Clerks this is the information needed to calculate the annual precept for 2019/20. If there are any new Clerks who would like to understand the precept process and what the figures mean and how they are used please let us know using the contact details below. We can then arrange either an individual session or a group session at The Gateway during November and/or December.
Please note that information on precepts will be requested to be returned by mid-January 2019 to feed into tax and budget setting meetings in February and March. We do accept that the January deadline is in advance of the statutory deadline. This is a practical deadline as a later date would create difficulties in issuing of statutory council tax notices. We ask for the co-operation of Parish Councils in meeting this time-frame. Parishes have helped us enormously in recent years by working to this date and we are very grateful for your continued co-operation.
Boundary Commission for England: 2018 Boundary Review
We have been informed that the Boundary Commission’s final report has been laid in Parliament. The recommendations have been published in full on the Boundary Commission’s website at www.bce2018.org.uk
Rough Sleeper Reporting Tool
Further to the recent announcements about additional funding to tackle rough sleeping, AVDC has launched an online tool for anyone to report a rough sleeper in the Vale. The form allows users to report anonymously or provide contact details. Outreach workers will subsequently visit the reported location to offer support and assistance. The form can be found at: www.aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk/rough-sleepers
New Homes Bonus Project Grants
By the time of the publication of this Newsletter the Advisory New Homes Bonus Grants Panel will have met to consider 12 project grant applications. The round is heavily oversubscribed with grant requests totalling almost £2.5 million pounds, with just over £2 million available to distribute.
Projects for which grant funding has been requested include a number of village hall and sports pavilion improvements and the building of new community centres at Berryfields and Aston Clinton.
The Panel’s funding recommendations will be considered by AVDC Cabinet in early October before confirmation of the awards.
Town and Parish Councils will be kept informed about the possibility of future rounds when we have an update on the unitary decision.
One Year of the New Homes Bonus Micro Grant Scheme
AVDC has awarded 48 New Homes Bonus micro grants in the first 11 months of its administration. By mid-September the number of grants awarded should have equalled the Community Chest record of 50 awarded in any given year of its 10-year life span.
These easily accessible grants are assessed on a monthly basis with a very quick decision making process - usually within two weeks of the closing date.
The scheme supports capital costs and is open to town and parish councils as well as voluntary and community sector organisations.
Examples of projects funded include an electronic cricket scoreboard for Dinton Cricket Club, a new Mess tent for the First Oakley Scout Group, AV equipment for Cheddington Community Film Club, new tools and equipment for Men In Sheds, Winslow, specialist sporting equipment for Goalball UK and various refurbishments of community facilities such as kitchens and disabled toilet facilities to bring them up to standard.
Electoral Canvassers Out and About in October
Electoral Registration staff will be visiting homes across the Vale during October. Any households who have not responded to the Annual Electoral Canvass by 4 October are likely to be called upon.
The Annual Electoral Canvass runs from August to November and is designed to ensure the electoral register is accurate and also to identify any new electors who need to register. A completely revised electoral register is then published on 1 December.
Legislation requires that local authorities send a Household Enquiry Form (HEF) to every household in their area and follow up with reminder forms and then a personal visit if required.
Residents can respond to the HEF online, by phone, text or by completing and returning the form (a reply paid envelope is provided). A response is required even if nothing has changed.
Vale Lottery, which has now raised almost £200,000 for local good causes, has a summer superdraw prize offering players the chance to win a £150 National Trust gift card. This is on top of the regular weekly prizes on offer, including the top prize of £25,000.
The lottery will be three years old this November, and we're already planning a special birthday prize draw to celebrate this milestone. Details of this draw will be released on valelottery.co.uknearer the time.
£50,000 ‘Our Vale’ Fund to Support Community Projects
In July, AVDC and Spacehive launched ‘Our Vale’, the online crowdfunding platform to turn local project ideas into reality, whether it’s to transform a shared space, inspire visitors or enhance the Vale.
Alongside over £300,000 from existing grant funds, projects will be able to access £50,000 from AVDC’s Our Vale fund, subject to criteria.
Play Around the Parishes 2019
Following the success of this year’s scheme, we are now taking bookings for Play Around the Parishes 2019. Please keep an eye out on your emails as we have sent one advising how to book.
Burglary Prevention During Winter
To ensure your home is not targeted this winter, here are some top community safety tips to follow as the dark and cold evenings approach:
1) Lock your doors and windows regardless of if you are in the property or not.
The point of entry more than 75% of the time is through a door or window.
2) Lock your UPVC doors with the key.
Flipping the handle is not enough to secure your door.
3) Keep valuable items out of view.
Leaving a laptop on view is an open invitation for a thief. Even less valuable items can be used to gain entry and is the most common way to force entry.
4) Property mark your valuables with ultra-violet marking kits or Smartwater
(contact us to receive a free UV pen). When goods are marked it enables recovered property to be returned and improves the chance of conviction.
5) The security of the rear of the home is integral.
Many burglaries are carried out via entry of a back door or window so make sure your back doors and windows are locked and invest in some prickly plants for your fence boundaries. If you have a side gate leading to your garden make sure it is locked.
6) Make sure your shed/garage is locked and secure.
Don't give thieves the tools to enter your home.
7) User timer switches.
In the winter months when it’s dark and nobody is at home a timer switch can be set to activate a lamp on the landing or hallway giving the impression that someone is at home. Timer switches are also ideal for when you’re on holiday. You can buy these for under £3 from hardware stores.
Amazon Alexa, Bin Days and Webchat
AVDC has recently launched a new Amazon Alexa Skill that allows Vale residents to find out when their bin collection days are. To begin using the free Skill, residents need to have an Amazon device, and then download the AVDC Skill. Once downloaded, residents can speak their query: "Alexa, ask my local authority when is my next bin collection?"
AVDC’s webchat function has grown this year with an average 1,800 webchats per month answered in under a minute. This is an efficient and fast way of contacting us without waiting on the phone.
Aylesbury Garden Town Update
Work is now underway on the Masterplan to provide the framework for the future of Aylesbury Garden Town through to 2050. Following a highly competitive tender process the project team have selected Alan Baxter Ltd, a design consultancy specialising in urban and conservation services, to work with local partners and agencies to prepare the overall masterplan and associated delivery plan. Alan Baxter have wide-ranging experience of the government’s Garden Villages, Towns and Cities programme, including work on Ebbsfleet Garden City and the award winning Loftus Garden Village in South Wales.
This work will help define what makes Aylesbury Garden Town special, providing design guidance and also setting out how the key physical and social infrastructure can be delivered. Community input is crucial and it will draw on all the feedback that’s been received from residents, stakeholders, partners and members and through the ‘Have Your Say’ section on the website. Further engagement sessions will be taking place later in the autumn. To find out more about the Aylesbury Garden Town project, visit www.aylesburygardentown.co.uk
National Tree Week
Saturday 24 November to Sunday 2 December kick starts the winter tree planting season with National Tree Week. It’s a great opportunity for communities to improve their local environment given the benefits trees provide to wildlife, air quality, cooling, visual amenity, and increased property prices.
Each year, The Tree Council's member organisations such as voluntary bodies, local authorities, up to 200 schools, community groups, 8,000 Tree Wardens and many others, support the initiative by setting up fun, worthwhile and accessible events, inspiring upward of a quarter of a million people to get their hands dirty and together plant around a million trees.
You can help by organising and encouraging your own tree planting events and inspire residents to plant native trees and large shrubs in their gardens. The Royal Horticultural Society website lists some recommendations: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=848
If you are planning any events then please let us know via we’ll ask our marketing team to publicise on social media.
The Woodland Trust also have some useful information including free trees to be delivered for March 2019, so you have good time to organise an army of volunteers: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant-trees/
There is more information on The Tree Council website: www.treecouncil.org.uk.
Works on Protected Trees
A reminder that works on trees in Conservation Areas and those protected by a Tree Preservation Order should only be carried out after an application has been approved, and/ or in the case of Conservation Areas, after the 6 week notification period has passed.
Checks for Conservation Areas and Tree Preservation Orders can be made on the AVDC website, which also includes links to further information and the National Planning Portal application form: https://www.aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk/protected-tree-search
The Arboriculture Association website provides details of tree consultants and surgeons, who have successfully passed the Association’s rigorous venting process: https://www.trees.org.uk/Find-a-professional