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."