New Year is a good time to reflect on ourselves, our families and indeed our wider community.
In Bucks we are blessed with a beautiful environment, a healthy economy and a population that is both aspirational and cares for others.
As a County Council we have achieved a great deal in 2014.
For example, we have spent over £20 million on restoring our roads and plan to spend another £25 million next year alone.
We have continued to lead the campaign for mitigation against HS2.
We have invested in revitalising our County Town with the magnificent Old County Hall at its centre being restored and exciting new plans for other areas.
We have been successful in securing funding for long overdue new roads around Aylesbury, despite the continued absence of a Local Plan. And, of course, a top priority remains safeguarding vulnerable children and, in particular, preventing as far as possible the evil of Child Sexual Exploitation.
Nevertheless, there remain many challenges.
The County Council’s funding is being cut again next year by nearly £12 million pounds. As a result of this and the need to fund the services for our growing elderly population and provide new school places for the many new young people in the county, we will have to make nearly £50 million of spending reductions. We have already had to take some tough and at times unpopular decisions.
Sometimes these have not gone as planned, for example the reductions in grass cutting in early 2014. This was not well done and I apologise for this.Looking ahead I am very concerned at the threat of unplanned urban sprawl across north Buckinghamshire.
Many communities feel besieged. We need a far more strategic approach to new housing and business growth working in partnership with our neighbouring counties. There is also the new attack upon our beautiful and historic county from those who wish to destroy it and, Alex Salmon like, divide us and turn communities against each other.
I am determined to fight those that threaten our countryside, our prosperity and our fantastic education system.
I hope I have your support in doing so.
May I wish all residents of the Vale a wonderful New Year.