A rocky road ahead in Bucks as repairs horror dawns

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A TRANSPORT boss has likened taking on the role of improving Bucks’ roads to a house renovation horror story.

Councillor Peter Hardy made the reference at a Bucks County Council meeting this week which saw plans outlined for next year’s budget.

“We have been spending more money improving our roads,” said Mr Hardy.

“Our pavements and roads are not in the best conditions.

“Taking over this portfolio was like moving into a new house – I originally thought there was improvements needed, but upon moving in there were a lot more improvements needed than originally thought.”

Mr Hardy and other cabinet members at the authority also criticised utility companies for leaving the roads and pavements in an unsatisfactory state after carrying out repairs.

He also complained about the contractors used by the council, adding: “We have told them that we want better value for money, and that we want better communication between members of the public, members of the council and contractors.

“We want to find better ways of working with the contractor in order to achieve our aims.

“I think we need to work this contract differently in the future.

“Utilities companies have to ensure the roads are in a good condition for two years after they have carried out their work – but two years is not acceptable.

“I think if it were five years it would enable us to get onto the utilities companies’ case and see that Bucks is serious about this and perhaps bring up the standard of their work.”

The members also discussed the effects of last year’s budget-cutting measure – the road lighting switch-off – which Mr Hardy said was at an unacceptable level.

“Evidence from the trial proved that switching lights off didn’t really affect road safety one way or the other,” said Mr Hardy.

“My impression was that lighting was at an unacceptable level of failure.

“I, therefore, plan to bring the standard of street lighting up to standard.”

Among these promises were also plans to make savings within the transport and planning department to keep in line with the budget.

This means that £546,000 will be saved within the transport portfolio in the next year (2012/13) and a further £344,000 in 2013/14 and £944,000 in 2014/15.

Within the transport cuts for 2012/13, the council plans to make savings of £752,000 on contracts with external suppliers.

It is also forecast that efficiencies from parking contracts will make savings of £691,000, and make savings of £100,000 through the retendering of bus contracts.

Meanwhile, cabinet member responsible for health and wellbeing, Patricia Birchley, has said that while the proposed savings to be made to her portfolio are ‘do-able’, they ‘collectively increase the level of risk’.

“As the safeguarding champion for vulnerable adults, my message is: let us continue to modernise our services; giving money back to the council when it is proven safe to do so.

“We have produced a budget which sets challenges for the coming year, which we are determined to meet.

“Safeguarding, personalisation and prevention are key themes to delivery of our services.”

It is anticipated that savings of £4,831,000 will be made within the health and wellbeing portfolio in the year 2012/13, £7,607,000 in 2013/14 and £7,861,000.

These will include savings made by reducing day care services and improved management of supported living placements.