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Summary

  1. Highlights of the debate with the main parties looking to gain power in the county council elections
  2. Buckinghamshire goes to the polls on Thursday
  3. The debate was aired live on BBC Three Counties Radio on Tuesday, 2 May 2017
  4. The party representatives taking part are:
  5. Andy Capjon (Green)
  6. Jon Conway (UKIP)
  7. Avril Davies (Lib Dem)
  8. Robin Stuchbury (Labour)
  9. Martin Tett (Conservative)

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

Get involved

The debate is over

That's it for our coverage of the Buckinghamshire County Council election debate. Thanks for joining us.

You've been hearing views from the main parties taking part in Thursday's election. There are also some independent candidates competing for some seats.

You can catch up with the main points from the debate below, but we'll now continue with our rolling news for Beds, Herts and Bucks.

Council debate: What's your favourite part of Buckinghamshire?

Nic Rigby

BBC News

The election debate for Buckinghamshire County Council drew to a close. 

As a final question, presenter Roberto Perrone asked the panel for their favourite part of the county.

Green Party representative Andy Capjon said Wendover Woods (pictured below).

Wendover Woods
Jarvis Docherty/Geograph

Conservative leader and leader of the council, Martin Tett, said Hambleden Valley and Aylesbury Vale.

Lib Dem leader Avril Davies said Pitstone Hill (pictured below) and Ashridge Bluebells.

Pitstone Hill
Gerald Massey/Geograph

UKIP representative Jon Conway said Denham village.

Labour group leader Robin Stuchbury said north Buckinghamshire.

Education: What are your views on schools in the county?

Nic Rigby

BBC News

Buckinghamshire has 13 grammar schools, but many of them are poorly funded. There is also a need for new school places, which allied to new homes in the county will put increased pressure on the county council. 

We asked for our panel's views on education.

Green Party representative Andy Capjon said: "We would start by getting rid of the grammar schools. There should be the same education for all children and that should be the best education."

Classroom
BBC

Lib Dem leader Avril Davies said: "We don't support the creation of grammar schools, but while children are in schools across the county our priority is to improve standards for all pupils." 

UKIP representative Jon Conway (pictured below) said: "I have got a kid and he went to a state primary school and then a comprehensive and I have to say I was astonished at how good the facilities in our schools are. The biggest difference is the attitude of parents. Parents should be involved in their child's schooling."

Jon Conway
BBC

Conservative leader and leader of the council, Martin Tett, said: "Looking at the expansion of schools, they are funded partly by developer contributions, partly by the council and partly by the government. 

"It would really help if houses were concentrated together rather than spread apart. The worst-funded schools are all the grammar schools." 

Labour group leader Robin Stuchbury said: "For every £1 you spend on a child before they are five years old, you get back £5 when they get older. Our grammar schools are not directly educating local people and the adjoining secondary schools are not that well-funded either."

What can be done about congestion in Aylesbury?

Stuart Bailey

BBC News

BBC Three Counties receives more texts and emails about traffic in Aylesbury than virtually anything else - apart from Brexit. We know the state of the roads across the county is dire, but what are the panel's views on how to sort the problems out?

Labour group leader Robin Stuchbury said: "It's going to have to be funded through clever thinking, hard negotiating... there's no other way of resolving it. There's no money. We need a unitary to look at it, remove the politics from it and it's not going to happen overnight."

Road in Aylesbury
Jon S/Geograph

Green Party representative Andy Capjon said: "There is no easy solution. As new housing estates go up there is no thinking it through solidly so there are relief traffic roads. 

"Simple things would help such as making sure traffic light phasing works properly. You'd also need to look at getting people out of their cars and on to buses so there's less traffic."

Lib Dem leader Avril Davies (pictured below) said: "We do need a multi-layered approach. One of the things that infuriates me is that the state of the roads leads to the collapse of utilities, and whenever there are utility works nobody knows about it and there is complete mayhem. 

"The quality of roads, the routing of heavy good vehicles and the volume of traffic needs to be addressed."

Avril Davies
Bucks County Council

Conservative leader and leader of the council, Martin Tett, said: "There is no magic solution that's going to solve this problem overnight. We're talking about a phenomenal amount of money to build a proper bypass, which is what it needs.

"I'm hoping in the longer term to convince the government that the new expressway between Oxford and Cambridge could possibly come around Aylesbury."

UKIP representative Jon Conway said: "I think the money is there... HS2. We should be fighting to say the lifeblood of our country is on the road and not HS2. We also need to be looking at more interesting and innovative ways of planning our road systems."

Roads: How can they be made fit for purpose?

Stuart Bailey

BBC News

The state of the county's roads is a key issue on doorsteps across the Buckinghamshire. Potholes and congestions are big stories for people up and down the county.

Lib Dem leader Avril Davies said: "We need to borrow money to fix the roads because at the moment we're just filling a hole and the hole is emptying itself out. People are really fed up. Not only can they not get the roads mended but when they are mended they don't last."

Potholes
BBC

Green Party representative Andy Capjon said: "One is repairing them and making them fit for purpose, but equally it's about reducing the amount of traffic on the roads by encouraging cycling, making cycling easier and safer for people, investing in public transport and getting people out of their cars."

UKIP representative Jon Conway said: "I've spoken to about 100 people in the past two or three weeks and 99% said 'those potholes, the roads'. People are paying quite a lot of council tax in most cases and they just don't think they're getting value for money."

Robin Stuchbury
BBC

Labour group leader Robin Stuchbury (pictured above) said: "We've got a reducing budget on the roads. The reality is that the government's taking money away from the councils. I don't believe the Transport for Bucks contract is fit for purpose - it doesn't deliver what it should for residents."  

Conservative leader and leader of the council, Martin Tett, said: "I've spoken to thousands of people on the doorstep and this is the top issue. 

"I understand the roads are not in the state that most residents expect. But the reality is that roads cost a fortune to repair and resurface. Without a massive infusing of money from government, we are never going to get the roads to the standards people want."

High-speed rail: Is HS2 a done deal?

Stuart Bailey

BBC News

Controversy surrounds the multimillion-pound high-speed rail link HS2, which will run through Buckinghamshire.

The government's rail scheme, from London to Birmingham and then on to Manchester and Leeds, is set to go ahead despite opposition from Buckinghamshire County Council. 

We asked the panel's view on it.

HS2
HS2

Green Party representative Andy Capjon said: "The cost of HS2, which I believe is approximately £50bn, also happens to match the same amount we might end up paying for Brexit. So maybe HS2 isn't as done a deal as originally thought."  

UKIP representative Jon Conway said: "The deal is done but the railway isn't built yet, and I think it's two or three billion that's been committed so far. I think as we get closer and closer and the bill goes up and up, there may be a re-think and I think it's important to keep campaigning for the things we believe in."

The panel
BBC

Labour group leader Robin Stuchbury said: "We have to look at the impact on the environment, the social element and what we're going to get out of it - not a lot in Bucks as you can't get on it - so we need to look at what infrastructure can be collected from it."  

Lib Dem leader Avril Davies said: "The deal we're going to get for the economy of Bucks is massively increased capacity on the West Coast Mainline that everyone's forgotten about through this whole fight. Milton Keynes is an economic hub and the amount of rail capacity released there should be enormous."

Martin Tett (pictured above with presenter Roberto Perrone)
BBC

Conservative leader and leader of the council, Martin Tett, (pictured above with presenter Roberto Perrone) said: "I've always argued that the business case for HS2 doesn't stack up. This issue of congestion on the West Coast Mainline is an issue of commuter capacity and you could increase commuter capacity far more cheaply than spending £50bn on HS2."  

What's your policy on adult social care?

Nic Rigby

BBC News

The population of over 65s in Buckinghamshire is set to grow - a story we're all too well aware of. We asked the panel (pictured below with presenter Roberto Perrone, standing) what their concerns were on this issue.

County council debate panel
BBC

Lib Dem group leader Avril Davies said: "About 50% of the council spend is on adult social services and children's services. It is a large amount of council tax going to make sure we live in a decent society. There are more and more old people to be cared for."

Green Party representative Andy Capjon (pictured) said: "It is a huge problem. We need to come up with radical solutions. The council needs to work better with the National Health Service and health staff. Passing off responsibilities to the private sector would be a huge risk."

Green Party representative Andy Capjon
BBC

UKIP representative Jon Conway said: "One of the frustrations is the fact that people are getting older should not be a surprise to people in government! All county councils are being starved of money by central government. We have to put pressure on politicians to spend more money. We should not spend so much on overseas aid."

Conservative leader and leader of the council, Martin Tett, said: "The population of people aged over 65 in Buckinghamshire is increasing and will continue to increase. Fundamentally there needs to be a solution by central government. We want to keep people in their homes, which is one solution in the short-term."

Labour group leader Robin Stuchbury said: "More integrated planning is needed and work has to be done on finding savings somewhere."

Election profile: Buckinghamshire County Council

Nic Rigby

BBC News

Buckinghamshire County Council, based in the market town of Aylesbury (pictured), was established in 1889. 

It runs transport, education and social services across the county with the exception of Milton Keynes, which became a unitary authority in 1997.

Aylesbury
Steve Cook/Geograph

The authority is made up of 49 councillors and at present is run by a Conservative administration.

At the last election in May 2013, the Conservatives took 36 seats (six down from 2009).

The UK Independence Party, which had no seats in 2009, won six seats, while the Liberal Democrats went down two seats to five. Labour and an independent each took one seat.

In 2013 the Conservatives took 41% of the vote, compared to 49.2% of the vote in 2009.

The Lib Dem vote went from 28.1% in 2009 to 14.9% in 2013.

The beneficiary was UKIP, which saw its support rise from 13.5% to 27%.

The role of the county council

County councils are hugely important - they make the decisions that affect our everyday lives.

They run many of the services that we rely on, whether that's looking after vulnerable people, safeguarding children, libraries - and 70% of the roads are maintained by the council.

Vote graphic
Getty Images

These decisions are not made by MPs in Westminster, but decided by county councils.

It's a difficult job - there are reduced resources along with increasing demand in some areas, such as adult social care and children's services.

Grants from central government are repeatedly cut, and the government's intention is to phase out central government funding entirely by 2020. 

So by then, local government will be entirely financed by money it raises locally... primarily business rates and council tax.

Welcome to the Buckinghamshire County Council election debate

Nic Rigby

BBC News

Good morning and thanks for joining us as we bring you highlights of the BBC Three Counties Radio debate aired yesterday evening, with representative of parties contesting the election for Buckinghamshire County Council.

Presented by Roberto Perrone, the panel included the Conservative council leader Martin Tett, Lib Dem leader Avril Davies, Labour leader Robin Stuchbury, UKIP representative Jon Conway and Green Party representative Andy Capjon.

Tomorrow, many of us will be going to the polls to vote for a new county council. Traditionally turnout is low - about half that of a general election.

Highlights will begin shortly.