“THERE’S so much to see and do wherever you look, I don’t think there’s a better place to live”.

That’s the council’s deputy leader Katrina Wood talking about Buckinghamshire, the county she has called home for more than 40 years.

She has been a key figure in the community for a large chunk of those four decades, having been the leader of the now-defunct Wycombe District Council and a former county councillor.

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Now she is at the forefront of the latest step in the county’s political journey, being one of two deputy leaders at the newly-formed Buckinghamshire Council.

The new authority brings together the four district councils which represented residents and which were home to “beautiful” parts of the county.

Katrina said: “I love being near High Wycombe, and Beaconsfield and Amersham which have loads to offer: shops, cinema, things to do.

“I also love living in the village by the open countryside and the rolling hills and the beautiful scenic views they have.

“It’s such a beautiful place, it really is. I think it was living here that inspired me to give something back.”

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This inspiration culminated in Katrina standing in a by-election for the Conservative Party in the Wycombe District Council ward of Tylers Green and Loudwater in 2006.

She won this vote and secured another four years in office after being re-elected at the council-wide elections a year later.

Katrina climbed the ranks to become the leader of the district council by 2015, having been elected as a representative for Hazelmere at Buckinghamshire County Council two years earlier — the same ward she now represents at the new council.

Three of Bucks’ district councils — including Wycombe — were not in favour of the formation of one large unitary authority.

But Buckinghamshire Council came into existence in April 2020 and after weathering the coronavirus lockdown, Katrina claimed “something good” has come out of the pandemic.

Bucks Free Press:

“I think we’ve got a really good team at the top helping to run the council. It’s certainly been difficult, there’s no denying that as the coronavirus hit us right as we were doing the final readings on everything”, she said.

“It did bring everyone even more together very quickly. We had to work as one even before the go-live date.

“[The pandemic is] a horrible thing to have happened, absolutely devastating for everybody that has lost somebody. My heart goes out to them.

“But I think we have to hold on to the fact something good will come out of it.”

Alongside her role as deputy leader, Katrina is also the lead member in charge of the council’s resources.

This portfolio takes care of a number of issues, including finance, ICT, legal issues, customer service and more.

Katrina said her new role “very much relates to the different [professional] areas I am used to working in”.

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The councillor told the Free Press she worked in three banks over twenty years, getting to grips with mortgages and insurances in managerial roles before setting up her own bookkeeping business in 2012.

Katrina still runs the business from her Wycombe home in tandem with her political career.

Comparing her role at the district council and her roles at Buckinghamshire Council, she said: “I guess personally the main difference is I now have a very wide-ranging portfolio to manage and as the leader of the district I took more of a helicopter view on everything.

“Although now I am a deputy and I do have an eye on what everything is doing, I’ve also got my specific area to look after as well.”

Bucks Free Press:

Aside from her Resources role and moving away from the coronavirus pandemic, Cllr Wood outlined her eagerness to see providing housing and eliminating homelessness become greater priorities for the new council.

She added: “One thing I always championed when I was the leader at Wycombe was housing and homelessness.

“My vision was to make sure everyone had a home to call their own and I’m pleased that’s gone forward into the new council so we can continue to do that.

“We were working towards making sure we had suitable housing of all kinds for residents from temporary accommodation to rented to affordable housing.

“I wanted to make sure as children grow up, they can afford houses nearby so they can be near their families.

“I think reducing homelessness is a really important area and I know the council is going to continue with that as a priority, which I’m really glad about.”