It’s always been about the roads!

Chairman Zahir Mohammed with Buckinghamshire County Council's first minute book from 1889
Chairman Zahir Mohammed with Buckinghamshire County Council's first minute book from 1889

It seems some things never change.

When Bucks County Council held its first meeting 125 years ago, roads were top of the agenda – and have been ever since.

Set up by the 1888 Local Government Act, the county council’s first meeting took place in spring 1889 with 68 members.

And last week 49 councillors were able to look at the original minute book from the first meeting, which was on display in the council chamber.

One of the first decisions the fledgling council had to make was how much to spend on surfacing the county’s 220 miles of main roads.

Members agreed to budget £4,000.

County council leader Martin Tett said: ‘Residents’ priorities were the same then as they are now!

“The state of our roads mattered then, and it matters now - which is why we’re investing more than £17 million this year on resurfacing.

“And I just wish we could spend more!”

He said marking the 125th anniversary was an important moment in history for the council.

“And it’s a fitting opportunity to raise awareness of the commitment we have in 
continuing to serve and 
support our residents,” he added.

The authority’s 125th year falls in one of the toughest periods in the county council’s history.

“With budget reductions set to bite still further in the coming years, future historians may well conclude that the biggest changes to the council were those we’re implementing now,” said Mr Tett.

At the beginning of the anniversary meeting, Chairman Zahir Mohammed led a minute’s silence in memory of former Member Crispian Graves, who served the Long Crendon and Brill division from 1985 to 2005, and died on June 11.

It was a poignant reminder of the first meeting in 1889 at which members recorded the sudden death of the Duke of Buckingham, one of the county’s first Aldermen. The Duke had been elected at the first meeting of the county’s Provisional Council three months previously.