New Chairman unveils her vision for the year ahead
The new Chairman of Buckinghamshire County Council is Patricia Birchley, who began her term of office today (Thursday 18 May). She received the chain of office from retiring Chairman Val Letheren. The new Vice Chairman is Netta Glover, who has represented the Wing division for eight years and was Deputy Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning for the past four years.
Tricia, who has represented the Chiltern Ridges division for 12 years, paid tribute to Val's service as Chairman, during which she officiated at nearly 150 engagements, three of which were Royal events As she steps into her new role as the Chairman Tricia is looking forward to an exciting and busy year ahead.
Tricia plans to make the most of her new role by helping to showcase the work of the County Council across all areas, from improving the lives of older and vulnerable residents to looking after the environment and protecting Buckinghamshire’s unique and resplendent landscape.
One of Tricia’s first tasks as Chairman will be to present the Dignity and Respect Awards to winners at the Oculus in Aylesbury tomorrow (Friday 19 May). As a previous Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, a post she held for five years, the standards of care for older and vulnerable people is a matter that is close to her heart.
She said:“Everyone deserves the right to be treated with dignity and respect and it is important to recognise and reward the hard work of the men and women in our care sector who go the extra mile to help and support them.”
Whilst in post as Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Tricia oversaw the opening of four state of the art day centres across the county. Situated in Chesham, Aylesbury, Buckingham and Burnham, the Opportunities Centres offer a wide range of day services for older and vulnerable people giving them access to a host of beneficial facilities in their local community.
During her year as Chairman, Tricia plans to host a series of Chairman’s Receptions, one at each of the centres, to highlight the facilities: “These centres are a fantastic resource for the local community, providing a range of services to older and vulnerable people. I want to showcase them to local people who may not be aware they exist. There is so much good work going on that we need to shout about.”
Tricia plans to make the main focus of her year in office on mental health issues. Working alongside High Sheriff, Peter Kara, she intends to look at ways of improving life for people in Buckinghamshire with mental health problems. Consulting with health and social care colleagues, Tricia hopes they can work together to maximise the opportunity of creating a lasting legacy for local people living with these issues.
She said: “Mental health issues can affect any one of us at any time in our lives. There are already many wonderful support services and networks out there in Buckinghamshire but I would like to see organisations working even more closely together, highlighting good practice and making sure that no one suffering from a mental illness is left to suffer alone or without support.”
One of Tricia’s other main passions is caring for the environment. She was previously Chairman of the Rights of Way Committee and is also a Trustee of the Chiltern Society. She has spent much of her time in the past seven years opposing the HS2 railway plans and vows to continue in her mission to support the interests of local residents: “I know and understand the changes that will need to be made to our local countryside to make way for HS2 and I will continue to fight for a fair deal for the people of Buckinghamshire. It is vital that our beautiful landscape is not blighted by this project, we must stand up and protect it for future generations.”
Looking forward to the year ahead Tricia said: “I am full of energy and passion for my role as Chairman. I want to do what I can to highlight the great work that goes on in the County Council and make sure that people know about all the services we offer.” Tricia, a County Councillor since 2005, has chaired the Missendens Local Area Forum since 2009, and was Chairman of the Council's Health and Wellbeing Board from 2011-15. She was Vice Chairman of the Transport, Environment and Communities Select Committee from 2015-16.
IN THE PICTURE:
New Chairman Tricia Birchley (centre) with new Vice Chairman Netta Glover (left) and retiring Chairman Val Letheren (right)