Naphill Gazette Article

David thought you might be interested in seeing an article he recently wrote for the Naphill Gazette.

"Roughly once a quarter, all five Buckinghamshire MPs meet the County Council’s Cabinet members to run through current local issues. It's always a very useful catch-up session, which can cover everything from economic development and transport planning to social care to pot holes.

In September, we spent part of the time trying to take a step back and talk about what the County might look like in 2050. What were the implications for the long-term planning of services?

Some things struck us as almost certain. There are going to be a lot more homes in Bucks. The population is growing. Ours is a popular area to live in, with low unemployment. We need more homes to address both greater longevity and the present unaffordability of housing for so many young people.

The impact of that on transport is harder to calculate. The Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge railway crossing North Bucks will be a strategically important growth corridor, but will need improved links to Heathrow and the Thames Valley too. By 2050 driverless vehicles will probably be the rule. How many of us will want or need to own a car, especially if it sits unused most of the week, if the option is available to summon a driverless hire vehicle to take us where we want to go?

Those vehicles will probably be fuelled by electricity. The government’s target already is to have no new petrol or diesel vehicles by 2040 - and my hunch is that industry will move more quickly than that anyway. So we’ll need a network of charging points. Who provides those, especially in rural areas with small populations? To what extent should this be left to the market and what if any kind of public service duty will be needed?

All kinds of questions crowd in. We are likely to have far fewer shops, with a massive shift to online sales. High Streets and town centres will have more residential properties and small businesses. As modern service businesses are not noisy or smelly, should we reinvent the Victorian fashion for mixed residential and business development instead of separate planning zones?

In social care, how can we maximise the opportunities presented by robotics and artificial intelligence to improve the quality of life for elderly and disabled people?

We didn't have all the answers! But discussing the challenges and opportunities is at least a start."

Naphill Gazette article

David thought you might be interested in seeing an article he recently wrote for the Naphill gazette.

"Just two days after the General Election, it was good to spend time at Naphill fete – a welcome reminder that normal life continues regardless of political or media frenzy. While touching base with a number of local organisations, I was particularly interested to find out more about the Hughenden Street initiative, which I can perhaps best describe as using a Neighbourhood Watch approach to help elderly and vulnerable people in the parish. Bucks County Council is looking to Hughenden as a pilot to test out an approach that, if successful, could be introduced across the county. I hope very much that this experiment takes off in a big way. To find out more, email or look at their video on YouTube.

'That was the Saturday. Next day, I’d just cooked and eaten Sunday lunch when the phone rang. It was my Private Secretary in the Commons Leader’s office saying that Number 10 wanted me to come into London. After hurriedly getting into a suit and tie (I thought that tee shirt and shorts probably weren’t quite right for this!) I set off, and at about 4.30 I was offered a move to become Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.

'Since then, it’s been a pretty much vertical learning curve. I’m now responsible for the courts and tribunals, for prisons and probation. It’s a fascinating brief, but is never likely to be an easy one. One challenge is to push forward with an ambitious plan for court modernisation, including using digital technology to cut back dramatically on both paperwork and the requirement for people to travel to attend court in person even for formal, routine proceedings that take no more than a few minutes to conclude.

'We need to make prisons safe and secure, while also using the time that we have when people are in custody and on probation, including through effective education and training programmes, to make it less likely that they will reoffend after release.

As Lord Chancellor, I have a particular responsibility to uphold the rule of law and defend the independence of the judiciary. The role also involves some ceremonial duties, notably taking part in the State Opening of Parliament and presenting the Queen with her speech. It was a hot day and the official robes are heavy, but I got through it without keeling over!"