Friday, 27 November 2015

Major transport review to start across the County

Every penny the County Council spends on transporting people to work, school and to other key services and amenities in Buckinghamshire and beyond is going under the microscope.

Council bosses currently invest £24m providing and supporting a range of transport services. These include home to school transport, services for adult social care, concessionary fares and non-commercial bus services that often run in the evenings, weekends or in rural areas.

Whilst significant savings have been made in recent years, further savings of £2.3m need to be found to meet the Council's agreed budget strategy going forward.

Cabinet Member for Transportation, Mark Shaw said the all-encompassing review will look at both external services and the way in which services are managed and provided internally by the council.

"We will be looking at everything we do in this area, how we do it, how much it costs and whether we can do it differently.

"Unfortunately a do-nothing approach is not an option. What we have to do is deliver more efficient transport arrangements, that best meets the needs of communities whilst doing it for less cost.

"We don't know all the answers, so it's vital we work with communities so they can tell us what's needed locally and how we can design new approaches together. We are therefore planning to work through our local area forums to launch four suggested pilot areas - Buckingham, Waddesdon and Chesham and their surrounding rural areas and High Wycombe - so we can look in detail at what goes on locally and hopefully find solutions that can also be applied across the county."

The Council has also just launched its budget consultation which asks local residents, communities and businesses where they think the Council should best direct its limited resources. The survey is online at until the closing date of Thursday, December 17.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

On-demand bus route is just the ticket for residents near the Northants/Bucks border

Councillors from neighbouring Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire got a taste of cross-border buses on demand on Wednesday November 18. They took a trip on the new County-Connect service between Towcester and Stowe.
County-Connect is an on-demand rural transport service, which goes wherever residents want within a designated area.

Area 4 - connecting eight villages north of Buckingham and six in south Northamptonshire with Towcester and Brackley - is jointly funded by Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire County Council and operated by Kier. The service features:
• No fixed timetable: passengers book in advance and can travel whenever they want between 7am and 7pm on weekdays and 8am and 6pm on Saturdays.
• Great value: fares are based on traditional bus routes and Concessionary Bus Passes are valid.
• Brand new: high-specification vehicles, with full seat belts and tie-down tracking for wheelchair users, provide the service
Councillors Michael Clarke and Ian McCord, from Northamptonshire , joined Buckinghamshire County Council Transport Cabinet Member Mark Shaw, his deputy, Paul Irwin, and local Members Robin Stuchbury and Warren Whyte to try the new community service.

Mark Shaw said: 'This is an excellent solution to provide accessibility to rural areas with limited or no traditional bus routes. Having travelled on one of the buses I can certainly recommend it to those living in the villages served.'

Michael Clarke, Portfolio Holder for Transport, Environment and Infrastructure at Northamptonshire County Council said: ‘We are delighted to continue the cross border arrangements with Buckinghamshire, under the new 'Heart of England' Alliance, this means we can provide even better bus services and and great connection for users. Working together with partners with the same ambition means that we can explore how we can develop a more efficient and accessible service. It is fantastic to be able to work collaboratively to provide the County Connect service that goes where and when users need it within the designated areas’.
To register and book a journey call 0345 456 4474 (local call rate) or visit
County Connect, Area 4 serves:
• Biddlesden, Lillingstone Lovell, Lillingstone Dayrell, Westbury, Shalstone, Dadford, Turweston and Stowe in Buckinghamshire.
• Brackley, Towcester, Radstone, Evenley, Helmdon, Syresham, Whittlebury and Silverstone in Northamptonshire

New lane markings for roundabout

Alterations to lane markings at a Buckingham roundabout will start w/b November 23.

The work will be undertaken by the developers of the Lace Hill estate in response to an independent road safety audit and concerns raised by residents.

The alterations to the lane markings will create a dedicated left hand lane and two circulatory lanes at each entrance to the roundabout.

Buckinghamshire County Council has been reviewing the proposed revisions with the developers to ensure safety concerns could be satisfied without reducing the capacity and operation of the roundabout.

Mark Shaw, Cabinet Member for Transport, said: 'As the highways authority we had to be assured that the proposed revisions would aid safety at this junction. I'm satisfied the revised lane markings will make the road safer and easier for motorists to use.'

Although the roundabout is due to be resurfaced, the revised lane markings will be installed as soon as possible to satisfy local concern. Re-surfacing by the developers is scheduled to be done during the winter, subject to weather, along with the outstanding remedial works.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Winter work gets underway on the roads

With summer memories fading fast, Transport for Buckinghamshire's (TfB's) area maintenance teams leave behind their lawnmowers to start winter tasks.

More than 33 million square metres of grass were cut during the summer season, and attention now turns to the maintenance required to prepare the verges for winter.

TfB's teams are cutting drainage 'grips' on the verges to help water drain from the road, tidying footways, clearing overhanging vegetation and cutting back hedges to ensure roads and footpaths are as safe as possible for the winter season.

Throughout the season, more than 9,050 potholes have also been repaired so the roads start the winter season in the best possible state, ready for the cold weather.

The gritting teams are also getting ready for their first trip out; road temperatures and weather reports are now being monitored in readiness for the first gritting run. TfB's 25 gritters have been checked and serviced and the drivers briefed.

This year around 10,500 tonnes of salt are safely stored in fully-stocked salt barns across the county, ready for use on the 1,427 kilometres (891 miles) of primary routes when required.

TfB makes the decision for gritting daily, based on forecasts of expected weather conditions and road surface temperatures. Should the road temperature fall below zero, crews will be called in to carry out their precautionary salting runs.

Gritters can be tracked, by name, online. You can see 'Mitten', 'Mr Sprinkle' and 'Lambourgritti' as well as the rest of the fleet on their duties across the county in real time.

Once a decision has been made about whether or not to treat the roads, TfB will update its website daily, and use Twitter - on @tfbalerts - to keep people informed.

Mark Shaw, Buckinghamshire County Council Cabinet Member for Transport, said: 'After last year's relatively mild and wet winter, we're prepared for all conditions once again this season. The wealth of experience and knowledge within our winter teams fills me with confidence that we can deliver a top notch service to keep our roads as safe and secure as possible.

'We must remember, however, that salt is not a cure-all substance, and I'd encourage residents all to check that vehicles are ready for the cold weather, and remember to always drive to the conditions of the road.'

Winter driving workshops are taking place across the county during November and December to enable road users to brush up their skills when driving in difficult weather conditions.

Booking details: and click on the 'Winter' button.

Tuesday 17 November 2015 – Central Tyre Buckingham, Wharf House Yard, Stratford Road, Buckingham MK18 1TD
Thursday 19 November 2015 – STS Tyre Pros, Amersham Road, Chesham HP5 1NG
Tuesday 24 November 2015 – Kwik Fit Tyre Pros, 511 London Road,High Wycombe HP11 1EP
Wednesday 2 December 2015 – STS Tyre Pros, Park Street, Aylesbury, HP20 1DX

All workshops are 6.30pm to 8.30pm.


Gritters at work across the county

New apprentices for Transport for Buckinghamshire

Transport for Buckinghamshire has recently welcomed five new apprentices to the organisation.

The recruitment process started in June this year when TfB advertised apprenticeship vacancies in

Business Administration,
Quantity Surveying,
Civil Engineering, and
Highways Maintenance
After an open morning and series of interviews during August, Daisy Fortune, Reece Wade, Tom Knight, Greg Farr and Declan Allen were selected to join the TfB family.

Daisy joins as the Business Administration apprentice
Reece has joined as a Quantity Surveying apprentice
Tom is TfB's Civil Engineering apprentice
Greg and Declan join the Highway Maintenance teams
College & Qualifications

They will all be working towards a variety of qualifications in their chosen field:

Daisy – Business Administration – Daisy will be working towards an NVQ3 in Business Administration in the next 15 months.

Reece – Quantity Surveyor – Over 2 years, Reece will be working towards a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment, whilst earning an NVQ in Construction, Contracting and Operations through working within the business.

Tom – Civil Engineering – Tom is TfB's Schemes apprentice and will be working towards a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment.

Greg & Declan – Highways Maintenance – Greg and Declan will be attending NCC Midlands College, Birmingham, earning a Level 2 Diploma in Highway Maintenance at college, and an NVQ Diploma to be assessed on site.

Simon Dando, TfB's Contract Director said, "I am delighted that we have been able to welcome these five new colleagues to Transport for Buckinghamshire and I really hope they will enjoy and embrace the challenges that await them. This is a great opportunity to explore a career within the construction industry, and I truly believe that TfB is the perfect place to take that first step."

Ringway Jacobs, who run Transport for Buckinghamshire, is a member of 'The 5% Club', having pledged that at least 5% of the workforce over the next five years is made up of young people on structured training. This includes apprenticeships and graduate schemes.

John Sunderland, Operations Director for Ringway Jacobs said, "As an organisation, we are committed to investing in the future of the business, and I am proud that 9% of our company is made up of apprentices and graduates. I am confident that our newest recruits will find the support and guidance they need to develop a successful career in a growing industry. I wish them the very best as they start this new journey. "

Bid to keep Buckinghamshire’s mature motorists driving safer for longer

Older motorists are being urged to keep their driving skills well honed in a campaign by Buckinghamshire County Council to reduce the number of collisions.

The campaign highlights the County Council's Mature Driver Scheme course, run under Transport for Buckinghamshire’s 'Be a Better Driver' banner.

And it's being supported strongly by Transport Cabinet Member Mark Shaw as a way to help keep the county’s mature motorists driving safely for longer.

In the five years from 2009 to 2013 the number of killed and seriously injured collisions involving drivers over 65 rose by almost 60% - from 27 in 2009 to 43 in 2013. In the main, causes were illness, fatigue, distraction and uncorrected defective eyesight.

With an increase in car ownership, a rise in the population aged 65-plus, and longer 'driving careers' among motorists, Mark is concerned there is an increased risk of being involved in a collision.

He said Buckinghamshire's population of over-65s was expected to rise from 84,900 (16.8%) to 115,300 (21.7%) by 2025. 'And I'm concerned that we don't mirror this rise in our collision statistics,' he said.

Since April 2012 more than 260 mature drivers have taken the course - the youngest at 61 and oldest at 94 - and more than a 25% have returned for reassessment: like 85-year-old resident Doreen, who has taken the course five times because she wants to ensure her driving skills are up to date.
Drivers take the course – a one hour assessment costing £37 - in their own car on routes familiar to them, and based on their driving needs. They get a detailed written report outlining recommendations to improve driving tactics.

The aim is to increase drivers awareness of the effects age can have on driving skills and to help them with strategies to reduce the risk of being involved in a collision.

Mark Shaw said there was never a wrong time to encourage older motorists to run a check on their driving skills, and think about regular assessment to help keep them driving safely for longer.

'There's no national statutory refresher course or test for older drivers, and I believe we should do all we can locally to keep our older drivers driving safely on our roads,' he said.

'Courses like our Mature Driver Scheme do an enormous amount to help keep driving skills sharpened and strengthen everyday driving confidence.'

Arthur Edwards, Chairman of Princes Risborough Community Association, agrees. Arthur (71), who has been driving for more than 50 years, was so impressed with the course and the detail it covered, he says he’ll take another in two or three years’ time.

And, he says, he feels a more confident, safer driver. 'I've benefited from a reminder to be more aware of what's going on around me, to use my nearside mirror more often, and I've learned tactics to avoid speed creep,' he said.

More information on the County Council's Mature Driver Assessments: