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Tuesday, 31 October, 2023
Bracknell Forest Council News Release - Changes to borough’s Local Plan - have your say

The council is this week launching a consultation on the changes (known as main modifications) that independent planning inspectors say are needed to ensure Bracknell Forest’s Local Plan meets requirements.

This is the next step for the emerging Local Plan, which sets out where new homes, businesses and facilities could be located in the next 15 years.

In January, government planning inspectors confirmed the borough’s draft Local Plan is legally compliant but needs some modifications. This is not a unique situation - nearly all councils are asked to make modifications by planning inspectors prior to adoption.

These main modifications will now be consulted on publicly for six weeks, from 10am on 31 October 2023. This means residents and other interested groups can have their say on the changes, but their views must be received by the council no later than 11.59pm on Tuesday, 12 December 2023. Late representations will not be accepted by the council but will be brought to the attention of the inspectors.

The consultation only relates to the main modifications recommended by the inspectors and not any other part of the wider Local Plan.

The main modifications include:

  • the removal of the proposed garden village at Jealott’s Hill
  • the removal of sites opposite Pope’s Meadow in Binfield and Lower Church Road in Sandhurst

The consultation is focused on whether the main modifications comply with legal requirements and meet the tests inspectors say are needed to ensure Bracknell Forest’s Local Plan meets its requirements. These are the key issues that the independent inspectors will consider when assessing the consultation responses.

Once the consultation ends, comments will be passed to the independent planning inspectors for their consideration. After reviewing the responses, inspectors will then issue their final report, which will be considered by the council. It is hoped that the Local Plan will then proceed to full Council for adoption.

Cllr Guy Gillbe, executive member for planning and transport, said: “We are hopeful that following this consultation, we will be able to satisfy the views of the planning inspectors and put forward a Local Plan for adoption.

“This consultation specifically relates to the main modifications recommended by the independent planning inspectors. It’s important to note that it is not an opportunity to raise matters that either were, or could have been, part of the earlier representations or hearings on the submitted plan. Any comments received will be passed directly to the planning inspectors for consideration once the consultation closes.

“This is an important chance for residents to continue shaping our Local Plan so that ultimately we have a framework in place to guide and support the considered development of our town.”

The full schedule of main modifications can be found on the council website at: https://www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/local-plan-latest.

It is also available to view at libraries across the borough.

Find out how to take part in the consultation by visiting: https://consult.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/portal/main_modifications_october_23

The Main Modifications have, where necessary, been subject to Sustainability Appraisal and Habitats Regulation Assessment.

Wednesday, 25 October, 2023
Walks for Wellbeing Bucklers Forest - Winter 2023/24
Scan the QR code for more information or email Mark at: mark.lyford@sustrans.org.uk
Tuesday, 24 October, 2023
Increase in reported thefts of high value vehicles

Thames Valley Police have seen an increase in reported thefts of high value vehicles across the Bracknell and Wokingham areas.

Unfortunately, some high value prestige makes and models of cars can be targeted by organised criminal groups, often as they are worth more to criminals and easier to dispose of as parts rather than a complete car.

Modern cars that have keyless entry and ignition systems are proving to be a particular target, as thieves can utilise electronic devices to copy and mimic the vehicle’s actual key in order to get in and start them without causing damage.

Car owners can utilise tried and tested forms of physical security to try and deter these car thieves:-

  • Fitting an overt steering lock or wheel clamp - either of which should be readily available at motorist stores
  • Parking so your car is blocked in by other vehicles
  • Having your driveway or parking space covered by motion activated lighting and good quality CCTV
  • Installing a rising or folding security bollard to block your driveway
  • Keeping your key fobs away from windows and doors when at home and turning off their wireless signal (check your vehicle manual to see if this is possible or contact your vehicle manufacturer.) Use a signal-blocking pouch/case or secure metal container to store your key fob and any spares

If you have any information relating to crime in your neighbourhood or have CCTV, video doorbell or Dashcam recordings of suspicious individuals, vehicles or activity please report this via our website at www.thamesvalley.police.uk or by calling the non-emergency number 101.

If you wish to remain anonymous you can pass information via the independent charity “Crimestoppers” by phoning 0800 555 111 or via their website.

For more advice on how to keep your vehicle safe, please visit the Thames Valley Police website www.thamesvalley.police.uk

Tuesday, 24 October, 2023
Rogue Roofing & Gutter Cleaning Traders

Residents across the Bracknell and Wokingham police area are being warned to be vigilant and to not become victim to rogue Roofing & Guttering traders.

At this time of year many rooves develop a growth of moss over the tiles and falling leaves may clog gutters, these are rarely critical situations that require immediate resolution, so never be pressured into accepting offers of cleaning from any Cold Calling tradesman.

There are laws that anyone working at height or on rooves has to comply with, so if your caller has nothing more than a ladder, there is every possibility that they are not genuine.

If someone knocks claiming to be simply in the area and offering to do the work there and then, there is every possibility that they are not genuine. Reputable tradesmen do not seek work in this manner.

If your roof and gutters aren’t causing you a problem, don’t accept a strangers word that you need work doing, unfortunately rogue traders who are allowed up on a roof often claim to then discover serious damage (which they may well have caused themselves) to tiles or chimneys that they offer to repair at extortionate prices.

Rogue Traders using such scams have recently been reported after targeting vulnerable residents in the Beach Lane area of Earley and are likely to have struck elsewhere.

Protect yourself and your property by following this simple safety advice:

  • If you are not sure who is at your door, don’t open it.
  • Ask the caller for proof of identity, if they claim to be from a legitimate company think about asking if they are a Ltd. Company or a Sole Trader, and ask for and check the company’s VAT registration details. You can confirm any Ltd company’s details on line, via the Companies House website, check to see if they are registered with Directory Enquiries - don’t use any telephone numbers provided by the caller- they may be bogus.
  • Don’t let them onto your property until you are satisfied.
  • If in doubt keep them out.
  • If you are suspicious report the incident to police on-line or by phoning 101.

If you believe your home requires repair/ cleaning work and you see adverts or receive flyers from individuals or companies offering such work, consider making on line checks to confirm any quoted addresses, phone numbers, email addresses or websites.

Best still is to seek recommendations available from Citizen’s Advice or Trading Standards.

Trading Standards will also be able to advise you on how to set up a “No Cold Calling Zone” in your neighbourhood should you and your neighbours want one.

Don’t be rushed into agreeing work or parting with your money. Obtain written quotes for any work confirming the company’s details and details such as, exactly what needs repairing, (dimensions and materials), who will be removing debris and how much it will cost before you allow it to commence.

As always if you have any information relating to this type of offence or would like to report a crime please contact Thames Valley Police via the on-line portal on their website or by phoning the non-emergency number 101. For residents across the entire Bracknell and Wokingham Police area you can contact Trading Standards on 01635 519930.

Friday, 20 October, 2023
Bracknell Forest Council’s financial position

Like most other local authorities across the country, Bracknell Forest Council is facing a challenging financial position – with unprecedented pressure on its budget.

On Tuesday, 17 October, the council’s decision-making executive was given an update on the interim budget position.

Earlier this year, the council was facing a financial gap of around £4m. However, due to lots of hard work behind the scenes, this had reduced to around £3m.

While this brings the council closer to balancing its books, and there is no current risk of bankruptcy (called a section 114 notice), it is still in a difficult financial position. A position it has never been in before.

This deficit is largely due to rising costs, rising inflation, increased service demand and years of underfunding from central government.

Like everyone, the council is not exempt from the rise in the cost of living. The high rate of inflation also affects all council services.

In addition to inflationary costs, the council’s budget is affected each year by other cost pressures, notably relating to increased demand for services. Alongside the higher demand for social care services, prices for care packages are rising much faster than inflation.

Additionally, more people in the borough have care needs that the council must meet, including children in care or with special educational needs and disability (SEND), and adults with learning difficulties or physical disabilities. This care and support is non-negotiable and must be prioritised but still adds to council budget pressures.

Another pressure has come from the amount of business rates collected dropping drastically. The national Valuation Office Agency (VOA) determines business rates for all businesses, and continuously re-assesses how much companies are paying. A number of significant businesses in the borough have been reassessed this year and so the council must make refunds backdated to 2017 - totalling several million pounds.

While all of these pressures are out of the council’s control, it must take action to address the budget gap.

Changes have already taken place with immediate effect to help reduce overspending, this includes making sure staff only spend on essential items necessary to provide frontline services and holding vacancies where possible.

Cllr Mary Temperton, Leader of the council, said: “Although the current year’s financial position is particularly challenging, we are in a strong place compared to similar local authorities.

“Some councils have declared bankruptcy, and the number of councils close to this position is rising. Thankfully Bracknell Forest Council is not in this position, but we want to be honest and transparent with our residents about our current financial situation.

“We are in an unprecedented financial position with a £3m gap due to spiralling costs, rising inflation and increased demand for our services. “While these are not factors within our control, we must address the budget gap. This means that over the coming months we will have to take some very difficult decisions and will have to look very carefully about what we can afford to prioritise for the remainder of this year and future years.”

The council’s interim financial position will continue to be monitored by senior staff weekly. Additional spending controls will be put in place, where necessary.

In parallel, work is being carried out on the budget for 2024/25. Many of the pressures being faced in the current year will inevitably impact on next year too. Draft budget proposals will be put to the executive in December, where they will be asked to approve a public consultation on the plans. You can watch back the update from the executive.

You can watch back the update from the executive here
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