Brighter future for Thrift Farm – new provider named

Following a full public consultation Buckinghamshire County Council is pleased to name a joint venture between Kids Play and Mead Open Farm as the new provider for services at Thrift Farm.

The new provider was confirmed by the Council’s Cabinet last week [9 September]. To comply with legal requirements the company, known as Provider ‘A’, could not be named until after the 16 September.

The new company formed by Kids Play and Mead Open Farm will use their combined expertise and experience to create a sustainable future for Thrift Farm.

Lin Hazel, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “We were determined to explore every possible avenue to keep Thrift Farm open. The consultation, while unsettling for service users and their families, was instrumental in keeping the issue high profile and finding a new provider.

“We would like to pay tribute to all who campaigned to keep the farm open and worked with us to find a new provider. There has been a thorough debate on all the business plans put forward to run the service – and we are confident that Kids Play and Mead Open Farm are the best option to secure a bright future for Thrift Farm”.

Kids Play Childcare, based in Milton Keynes, have over 18 years experience providing childcare in OFSTED registered settings throughout the South East. Through their nurseries, pre-schools, after school clubs or activity day camps they provide care for 2,500 children across the Milton Keynes region.

Family business Mead Open Farm in Leighton Buzzard operate a well established children’s farm. Welcoming some 230,000 visitors each year, they are home to over 350 farm animals, run a programme of daily activities and an active year round event schedule.

Paul Sharp, Managing Director of Kids Play, said: “Families have confidence in Kids Play Childcare, often starting with us as babies and continuing with us through to Primary School at our After School Clubs or Activity Day Camps. Taking over Thrift Farm means we can develop and extend our range of services.”

This sentiment was mirrored by Matt Heast, owner of Mead Open Farm: “Thrift Farm has its own special charm and it’s important the changes we make retain this. We look forward to bringing our animal handling expertise and visitor attraction experience to Thrift for the benefit of everyone”.

Their ‘winning’ business case includes keeping the farm open to the public and providing an adult day service – alongside a café, retail shop and farm family attraction.

Paul Sharp continues: “We are very excited about this opportunity and look forward to using our expertise in education and care, combined with Mead Open Farm’s farming, animal activities and attraction knowledge. We want to maintain the uniqueness of the farm and all future developments will be done for the benefit of everyone – including better opportunities for adult clients with learning difficulties.”

The new company and the Council are keen to reassure current service users and their families that there will be no sudden changes to their circumstances, with Lin Hazell saying: “We are keen to work closely with service users, their families and staff to ensure a smooth transition over to Kids Play and Mead Open Farm.”

A meeting to discuss next steps with them has been planned for September 2019.

Service users and clients were in a celebratory mood when told that Thrift Farm would continue under the Kids Play Childcare and Mead Open Farm Joint Venture. Most said they felt happy but relieved with the news and were now planning a party to celebrate.

Glen, who works with the farm animals as well as having a paid week-end job at the farm, said: “Thanks to everyone who campaigned. I’m glad the farm is staying open. I get to keep my job!”

Helen, who has been attending the farm for 14 years and works in the cafe, said: “I am happy the Farm won’t close. We can stop worrying now. I love my job working in the cafe. I like cooking, making cheese scones and pastry, I have learnt how to use equipment and can use the cash register. The staff help us.”

Daniel, has worked as a service user at the Farm for over four years and carries a range of jobs looking after the park and animals, said: “I’m really pleased that the Farm won’t close. It’s a relief for everyone. I’m looking forward to finding out what the new people will do.”

Rachel, a staff member at Thrift Farm who works closely with the adults who have a learning disability, said: “I am utterly thrilled to hear the news that the Farm has been saved. It is a huge relief for both clients and staff who have worked tirelessly to remain positive throughout this process. I am super excited for what the future holds!”

In total the Council received three business plans to run Thrift Farm, each were carefully considered before Kids Play and Mead Open Farm were selected as the preferred provider.

The Cabinet report, meeting webcast and details of the decision can be found here https://democracy.buckscc.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=124&MId=11084&Ver=4

Market Square Closure

Market Square, Winslow

Please note that Aylesbury Vale District Council will be closing the Market Square for maintenance on the evening of Wednesday 4th September.

The Square will remain closed at the end of the weekly market and reopen at 9:30am on Thursday 5th September.

Have your say on the proposed council tax scheme for the new Buckinghamshire Council

Have your say on the proposed council tax scheme for the new Buckinghamshire Council

In a consultation launched today, 14 August 2019, residents are being asked for their views on how the new Buckinghamshire council will support people on low incomes with their council tax bills through a new Council Tax Reduction (Support) Scheme.  The changes are being discussed as the five councils prepare to become one, new council from 1 April 2020.

 

Currently the four district councils, Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe, offer different levels of council tax support across Buckinghamshire, through the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

However, from 1 April 2020, there will be one council for Buckinghamshire, so the proposal is to have one scheme for the whole of the county meaning people in the same situation are treated consistently and fairly wherever they live.

The proposal brings the four current schemes together in the most effective way, with the least amount of change for those currently receiving a reduction in their council tax bill while making sure the new scheme is affordable for the new council.

Council tax support is offered to people of working age on low incomes who are eligible for a reduction in their council tax based on their financial situation. This includes vulnerable people such as people who receive qualifying disability benefit and single parents with a child/children under 5. The proposed scheme does not affect pensioners who will continue to receive the same level of council tax reduction as directed by Government.

Many people will see little or no changes, but combining four schemes into one does mean there will be some differences.

Martin Tett, Leader of the Shadow Executive, said: “When we are one council it’s important that there isn’t a postcode lottery on the help our residents can get. We want a fair approach that offers residents the same level of support with their council tax bills no matter where they live in the county.”

To find out more and have your say, visit https://shadow.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/consultations/counciltaxreduction

Road Closure – Furze Lane

NAME AND NUMBER OF HIGHWAY AFFECTED Furze Lane

TOWN/PARISH Winslow

If only a section of the road is to be affected, give relevant junctions/distances in metres. Approx 40m either side of bridge.2.

TYPE OF TEMPORARY TRAFFIC RESTRICTION Road Closure

PERIOD FOR WHICH ORDER IS SOUGHT from 00:00 to 23:59 on 28-29 August 20192 days 3.

ALTERNATIVE ROUTE FOR AFFECTED USERS – Verney Road, Vicarage Road, High Street, Buckingham Road.

REASON FOR ORDER Insert description Bridge Inspections access to Lakers Nursery from A413 junction.

Will the Emergency Services have access through the closure Yes

Will Buses have access through the closure No

Buckingham Rd, Whitchurch – Oving Road to Dunton Turn (Sunday 11 August)

 

News from Buckinghamshire County Council

 

PR 10640
05 August 2019
APPROVED for Immediate Release

 

Weekly roadworks update

 

 

 

Buckingham Rd, Whitchurch – Oving Road to Dunton Turn (Sunday 11 August)

Surface dressing works taking place using a road closure in operation between 7am and 7pm

County Roads

APPROVED for Immediate Release

 

Give us your views on roads

 

Buckinghamshire County Council (BCC) is seeking the opinions of residents on the county’s road system in a new online survey that will provide information that will inform the council’s strategic highways planning.

This online survey is open to all residents, and is in addition to the annual National Highways and Transportation (NHT) survey which was sent to 3,300 randomly selected households in Buckinghamshire during June.

Through this survey, BCC will be taking a deeper look at two of the key NHT questions which concern ‘Road Condition’ and ‘Road Congestion’. The opinions collected through this survey will be used to supplement the information obtained via the NHT.

Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Transportation Mark Shaw said: “when we look at the combined results of these two surveys, we can really start to build a picture of how the public views and rates our services. This will assist both Buckinghamshire County Council with transport planning and Transport for Buckinghamshire – the strategic highway maintenance arm of the organisation – with advising us on where the roads budget is best spent each year.

“We really value the views of our residents, and this additional questionnaire will give us a better understanding of any issues respondents are experiencing with road condition and road congestion.”

The survey will remain open to the residents of Buckinghamshire until 30 September 2019. It takes under five minutes to complete and is open to all residents even if they have responded to the initial NHT survey received last month.  The results will be made available on the BCC website in the autumn this year.

Complete the survey here:

www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/BCCtransportsurvey2019

 

New Bus Company to Run Rural Route

County Council transport officers have brokered a new deal to keep the rural route 60 bus service running.

The long-distance service, run by Arriva to serve villages to the north of Aylesbury, was due to finish on 28 July after the company gave the County Council statutory notice that it wouldn’t be continuing.

But today (Wednesday 10 July)  the Council announced that Red Rose Travel bus company will take over the route with a revised timetable. And services from Buckingham Tesco to Maids Moreton will be absorbed into other routes.

The existing eight-times-a-day subsidised Route 60 runs from Aylesbury to Buckingham and Maids Moreton, serving Oving, North Marston, Granborough, and Winslow, carrying between 30 and 40 passengers a day.

It’s one of 46 bus routes across Buckinghamshire that the County Council supports with a £1.8 million fund from local taxes to give access to local communities.

The new route 60 timetable between Buckingham, Winslow and Aylesbury, has been created to meet the majority of users’ needs, drawing on travel patterns and the council’s own surveys. It provides six journeys each way between Winslow and Aylesbury, with three extended to Buckingham.

Between Buckingham and Maids Moreton, Monday to Friday journeys will be run by routes 18 and 151, while on Saturday routes 131 and 132 will operate the service.

Mark Shaw, Deputy Leader and Transport Cabinet Member, said that in negotiating with another company to operate the route for the County Council, officers had considered journeys made by school pupils, by people getting to and from work, and by people who would otherwise be socially isolated.

“Our rural routes receive some of the highest levels of subsidy and we work closely with bus companies to encourage greater use,” said Mark. “With route 60 I believe the new arrangements we’ve negotiated provide support that most closely matches the needs of users.”

Arrangements for the new routes can be found in the bus timetables section of the County Council website.

Extensions complete Buckingham to Winslow cycleway

The final extension to the Buckingham to Winslow cycleway has been given the finishing touches, and is ready for residents’ rubber to hit the road.

Work on the £180,000 London Road to Buckingham schools section started in March and, ahead of final safety checks in the coming few weeks, local County Councillors Charlie Clare and Warren Whyte gave it a wheely good once-over.

The extension serves the Swan Pool Leisure Centre, the Buckingham School and the Royal Latin School, and involved widening the pavement along the Buckingham-bound side of London Road.

It joins an earlier £73,000 extension through the Badgers estate to Cornwalls Meadow, finished last September, in linking the town centre with the main cycleway from Winslow to the Buckingham ring road.

Mark Shaw, Deputy Leader and Transport Cabinet Member, said he was delighted Buckinghamshire County Council was able to provide another extension to the successful £2.3 million Buckingham to Winslow shared footway and cycleway.

“This really does open the choices for people to walk or cycle in Buckingham,” said Mark. “We’ve already seen how well-used the main section is and the two extensions will be a huge benefit for those who use the leisure centre, walk or cycle to school, and for those who want to avoid the traffic into the town centre.”

The 5.6 mile section between Winslow and the outskirts of Buckingham opened in January 2017. Last year cycle counters on the route logged more than 10,500 journeys annually through Winslow, just over 10,000 through Padbury, and almost 8,500 past Adstock.

During some summer days, more than 100 cycle journeys a day were measured at Winslow. Before the cycleway opened that figure was just 16.

The main shared footway and cycleway was paid for by a Local Growth Fund grant through the Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership, and the extension scheme was funded by Lace Hill developer contributions.

Introducing New Hublets

You can now hire out your own tablet at Aylesbury Library! ‘Hublets’ are Samsung Galaxy tablets which customers can borrow for use within the library itself. All you need is your Buckinghamshire library card and PIN to release a Hublet for up to two hours, completely free.

The Hublets are ready to browse the internet using the library’s wifi and are preloaded with some favourite apps. For example, you can access eBooks and eMagazines with the Libby and RBdigital apps. Prefer to listen to eAudiobooks with BorrowBox?  You can connect your headphones to listen to your stories, or watch videos, without disturbing other library users.

When you’re finished all you have to do is return the device to the docking station and it will log you out of any websites you have visited and clear any information you have downloaded to the device, ensuring that the Hublet is charged and ready for the next customer.

The Hublets will also be used for children’s coding sessions in Aylesbury Library from time to time.  Just ask staff for more details next time you visit.

Councillor Gareth Williams, Buckinghamshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Engagement and Public Health said:

“I’m really proud of what we’re achieving at Aylesbury Library and the new Hublets are another addition to what’s a bright, modern and welcoming new library environment. We hope to offer Hublets at more of our libraries if they prove popular at Aylesbury.

All of our libraries are fantastic community hubs fit for modern life. Alongside traditional book-borrowing we offer so much more – there are free family activities, a chance to browse up to date newspapers and magazines plus general information and advice and you can to do printing and scanning too. Why not check out what’s on at your local library?”

Join us for a day of celebration for our local armed forces community

Tickets are going fast but there is still time to get yours and join us for a day of celebration and appreciation for our local Buckinghamshire armed forces community.

Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Armed Forces Day takes place at Booker Air Park in High Wycombe on Saturday 29 June, from 12 noon. The day is packed with live entertainment, music and attractions including a two hour long air display.

The event is open to the general public but its main aim is to give our local armed forces a day to relax and enjoy with their families and for the public to come along in support to show their thanks and appreciation for everything our armed forces do and have done for us. It forms part of a national programme of events taking place around the country.

This year’s event is in a new venue and for the first time is also completely free but you must still register online for tickets. To book tickets visit: www.buckscc.gov.uk/armedforcesday

We still need volunteers to help on the day. If you can spare a couple of hours to help with tasks such as hospitality, car parking, selling programmes and backstage support, we would love to hear from you. Anyone aged over 14 can volunteer but under 16s must be accompanied by an adult. In return for helping out you will receive a free limited edition t-shirt and refreshments.

To find out more or to volunteer visit our website: www.buckscc.gov.uk/armedforcesday

HM Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher said: “We are really looking forward to this year’s Armed Forces Day. We have a packed programme of music, attractions and entertainment for the whole family to enjoy, it promises to be a fantastic day out.

“We must also remember, the main purpose of the event is to celebrate and give thanks to all our armed forces personnel, both past and present, for everything that they do and have done for us. We owe them so much and this event is the perfect way to show our appreciation.”

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