Letter round-up: Business rates, unitary, Europe, volunteering and the Great Grass Massacre...

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Our weekly round-up of the Herald letters page...

Business rates

Time for fresh look

With reference to the article in The Bucks Herald dated May 25th 2016 concerning the exorbitant business rate of £1300.00 per month being charged to Rocky & Kook.

It has always been a puzzle to me why short sighted councils continue to charge small businesses and shops in particular such high & unaffordable rates whilst bemoaning the decline of town shopping centres.

It is no use spending millions on the questionable revamping of the town centre to supposedly attract shoppers when at the same time forcing the shops out by charging absurdly high rates to pay for the project.

Shops, cafes, pubs & restaurants are the heart of any town or village but they continue to be forced out of business either to close forever and become white washed painted eyesores or charity shops.

Is it not more sensible for small businesses to be charged a more realistic and affordable rate to give them half a chance to profit & thrive, thus attracting visitors & shoppers?

In my opinion small start up businesses not part of a national or international chain should have their first year rate free and then gradually increased by say 20% per annum of the full ( hopefully reduced )rate current at that time until this is reached.

This will give them a chance to establish the business and be one less financial burden.

The living wage and workplace pension are all additional nails in the coffin of a small business.

Considering the income from the number of businesses, houses and flats in Aylesbury Vale and the continued construction of thousands more homes, Aylesbury and the surrounding area should be pot hole free with a new road building & car parking program to accommodate the thousands of additional cars which will be filling local roads soon.

It is time for a fresh new outlook.

Mark Huggins

Wendover

Business rates

An affront to us all

I must echo the concern of the businesswomen, and customer-base, of Rocky and Kook that small independent businesses face such a struggle.

It is no less than outrageous that their rates are higher than many of their neighbouring businesses, including some of Aylesbury’s – seemingly endless supply of – banks.

In particular, as a male twenty-something with a particular sense of style – to wit: none, if I were to listen to the current trend-setters and fashionistas – and on a low income.

It is nigh impossible to find, amongst the Blue Incs and H&Ms of this town, something that I actually like.

Foregoing the occasional find in a charity shop, Rocky and Kook offer me an outlet at which I can buy shirts I actually like!

At a reasonable price, at that.

Sure, they are a “women’s” vintage clothing store, but this is 2016 after all!

It is an affront to all, men and women, that a business that offers a genuine alternative to the incessant TopShop conveyor-belt of clones is forced to struggle unaided against the tide of the Big Brands.

I sincerely hope that Cllr Steve Bowles is able to take steps to alleviate the strain on the Lewis’ and others’ independent retailers.

For the sake not only of Aylesbury’s small businesses and alternative consumers, but also in the hope that I may be able to realise my own dream that of, some day, opening an independent bookshop in the town I was once proud to hail from.

Yours somewhat shabbily,

Luke MacKinnon

Address upplied

Unitary

Different solutions

The book referred to by your correspondent N Hayes (BH letters 25 May) was written three years before the 1974 local government re-organisation. At that time the only unitary authorities were the cities and large towns, known as County Boroughs.

One size will not fit all.

Managing a city like Sheffield is quite different from a managing a rural county with a similar population.

Again, some counties, like Nottinghamshire, have one large town.

Others, like Devon, have several, while some, like Buckinghamshire, have no large towns now.

There are some functions which are easily carried out by the councils of rural parishes or smaller towns and villages. Others need to be managed over a wider area, sometimes in conjunction with adjoining councils.

Responsibility for child and adult care, strategic planning of highways and major developments are examples of that.

These reponsibilities need a larger population base in order to employ teams of professional specialists.

Therefore, we must expect a variety of solutions appropriate to individual cases.

Previous attempts by Government to impose structural changes from above have not always been popular or successful.

Take, for example, the Metropolitan Counties or the imposed merger of Worcestershire and Herefordshire, all now abandoned.

The present view seems to be that it is up to the people in a particular area to say how they wish to be governed.

Nevertheless, the requirement to have elected Mayors looks like a departure from that, and it is not universally welcomed, rather like the case of the Police & Crime Commissioners.

Mr O J Oliver

Campion Close, Aylesbury

Dictionary

Beginneth the tale

Thank you for publishing my letter last week about Bucks becoming a unitary authority.

Unfortunately the gremlins got into the system and caused a number of mistakes, two of which prevent the letter from being understood. I therefore hope you will allow me to correct them.

Paragraph 5 should read ‘he says that unitary authorities are not necessarily better...’

Paragraph 14 should read ‘it is not apparent that all these changes will make for better decisions’.

The last paragraph should read ‘able and ambitious men will labour constantly...’

And my own mistake was the incorrect spelling of ‘beginneth’ in paragraph and therein lies a tale.

I have several dictionaries including three big ones and that word isn’t iin any of them.

When I went to Aylesbury Reference Library last week they couldn’t find it in any of their dictionaries either!

They eventually found it on the internet.

I think the dictionary-makers should learn a lesson from this experience.

One of my big dictionaries is the New Oxford, which is much bigger than the well-known concise Oxford.

Unfortunately the New Oxford also contains a lot of biographical entries about famous people which have no business being in an ordinary dictionary. Those biographical entries should be removed and replaced by words like ‘beginneth’.

Got that Oxford?

N Hayes

Address supplied

Europe

A new Cold War?

All the trivia now being debated as to how much better off we shall be without uncontrolled migration completely overlooks the massive impulse a Brexit will give to an actual break-up of the EU.

Even in France and Germany, the anchors of the European Union, there are increasingly powerful political parties wanting to leave the EU.

A British Leave could well be the start of an EU break-up.

Now think how this will destabilise the whole of the continent: Large populations of Russians in the Baltic Republics will welcome an intervention by Mr Putin.

He is even now making overtures to Greece.

Other former communist countries may be susceptible to his blandishments.

With NATO embedded in Poland, we shall be straight back to the Cold War.

For these reasons alone, the UK must vote to remain, and with that take a leading role in maintaining Europe’s common living standards, welfare, environmentalism and, above all, security, something a future American President ma well take a different view of.

Michael Heybrook

Manor Farm, Chearsley

Europe

Trust real doctors

As we draw closer to June 23rd the leave campaigners are becoming increasingly desperate as they lose the arguments.

The fact is leaving the EU would put our economy at risk and bring added pressure to an already cash-strapped NHS.

Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of NHS England, recently blasted Leave campaigners’ claims when he said, “When you net off what we give [to the EU] with what we receive it is a rather lower figure than that (£10bn).

“And that lower figure, even if all of it were deployed to the NHS, is enough to fund the NHS for 19 days each year.

“So, that would fund us for 19 days a year, so for the other 11 and a half months of the year it is the performance of the economy that is what will count.”

Indeed, it is just that – the performance of the economy – that will count on how we fare outside the single market.

So what do economists say?

The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimate that a vote to leave the EU would cost the UK economy between £20bn and £40bn, more than enough to wipe out the planned surplus that Boris says we will gain from leaving the EU.

100,000 EU citizens work in our health and social care system. One and a half million people are employed in businesses owned by EU citizens.

And EU migrant workers have contributed £20 billion more in taxes than they have taken out in benefits.

It’s clear: the overwhelming majority of EU citizens in Britain contribute to our taxes, our economy and they are helping pay down our debt.

And a great many are keeping the NHS going.

Whether they be the cleaners, lab staff, surgeons or porters. But don’t take it from me, and certainly don’t take it from Boris.

Take it from the experts.

Trust the real doctors, not spin doctors.

Catherine Bearder

Lib Dem MEP for South East

Council

Grass massacre

I seriously wonder what the grass cutting department of AVDC does to ensure that its contractors for grass cutting actually do the job they are paid for in a proper manner.

Looking round the area where I live all I see is a badly carried out work.

I watched an operative massacre the grass outside my house and then it took a couple of calls to get the job finished.

This is not acceptable and one wonders just how our tax monies are spent by this organisation.

The town should have its services provided by the town council not by an organisation run by people who do not live in Aylesbury and have no interest in making our town a good place but only care about the outer districts.

This is wrong.All the talk about combining AVDC and BCC will only give us the combined inadequacy of both organisations, something which should fill everyone with fear.

Contact your local district councillor and ask them their views on the way AVDC is run.

Christopher Lowe

Address supplied

Rubbish

A waste of money?

I have just received in the post a letter and enclosed leaflet from Aylesbury Vale District Council to inform me that my refuse and recycling collection day is about to change to a Wednesday.

The present collection day is… er, Wednesday.

Closer inspection reveals that the council, in its wisdom, wishes to collect my refuse 
on two consecutive weeks at the beginning of June, before reverting to the previous method of collecting refuse and recycling in alternate weeks.

How much is this exercise in futility costing Council Tax payers at a time of great pressure on all local government finances?

Nick Doe

Green End, Granborough

School

John Colet reunion

May I, through your paper, extend a warm invitation to all former pupils and staff 1956-1980 to enjoy a Reunion on Saturday 25 June 2016.

Now we 45-70 yrs olds are not as young as we used to be, Afternoon Tea will be served from 3pm and we will move through the “St Bernard’s Waltz” towards “Build Me Up Buttercup” in the later hours until 11pm.

I doubt there will be much break dancing!

It will be held at Wendover Memorial Hall (hire costs shared amongst us) and the School has kindly agreed to conduct guided tours of our old haunts (including behind the bicycle sheds!) on the Friday 24th.

This is a unique opportunity for ex-pupils living locally as well as those from afar to once again meet their old school chums. Memorabilia is welcomed to smile about.

In true collegiate fashion, bringing food and drink to share will help manage logistics and fit with the John Colet Family feel of back in the day.

Put your favourite hits of the day on CD or similar and we can throw down some shapes! Please contact your classmates and get them together for the day.

Let me know on 07762 649390 or poemogram@hotmail.com or www.facebook.com/groups/533109313435715

Tony Hillier

Former Head Boy

Scouts

Volunteer with us

This is Volunteers’ Week: The Big Celebration and what better time to recognise the incredible work of our 1782 Scouting volunteers in Buckinghamshire?

Today Scouting provides fun and adventure to 8298 young people in Buckinghamshire. We build confidence, self-esteem and help girls and boys, young men and women aged 6-25 develop the skills and values they need to succeed in life.

But what does volunteering really mean? It’s about finding an organisation whose values align with your own. It’s about finding a cause you feel passionately about and which allows you to grow as a person. It’s about using your skills and learning new ones.

For our 1782 volunteers, Scouting provides these opportunities. In Scouting, adults as well as young people make new friends, try new things and develop skills that they use in their everyday lives. Volunteering for Scouting is flexible and fits around work and volunteer commitments. We work especially hard to find roles that are matched to a person’s interests and talents.

Perhaps most importantly volunteering is about contributing something to the local community. From the Chief Scout, Bear Grylls, to the leader of the local Beaver Scout Colony, every one of our volunteers makes a promise to help other people.

This year Scouts are living their promise by making a positive impact in local communities through A Million Hands, a national campaign to support four key issues: improving the lives of those affected by dementia, improving the lives of the disabled, improving the mental well-being and resilience of families and ensuring everyone everywhere has access to clean water and sanitation. It’s about real, meaningful and sustainable action and it’s encouraging a new generation to really think about and support the people around them.

On behalf of Buckinghamshire District Scouts, may I say a very heartfelt thank you to our volunteers. And if you feel inspired by what you’ve read, whether you’re an adult or young person, we would welcome you to the Scouting family and support your development too.

James Palin

Lead volunteer, Buckinghamshire County Scouts

Charity

So grateful to you

The 43 people across Buckinghamshire who volunteer for The Children’s Society are the lifeblood of our organisation and are crucial to our fight against child poverty and teenage neglect.

I want to mark national Volunteers’ Week (June 1-12) by thanking all our volunteers, whether they help out in our shops, raise vital funds and awareness, or directly support young people in our projects.

They make an amazing difference to so many people’s lives!

I am also grateful to our volunteer campaigners – 363 of them in Buckinghamshire – who strive to make the law work better for vulnerable children.

In the past 12 months they have helped press energy companies to improve their treatment of households who have fallen behind with their bills.

They helped persuade Parliament to debate how 16 and 17 year old victims of sexual exploitation are being failed.

And in some areas they have helped stop bailiffs knocking at the doors of families with children.

This month we’re stepping things up with a new opportunity for people across Buckinghamshire to become local campaigners, directing their energy, passion and commitment to making positive changes for our young people at a local level.

Anyone who is interested in being a Campaign Champion or volunteering for The Children’s Society in any other way can find out more at childrenssociety.org.uk/campaign-champion or call 0300 303 7000.

Matthew Reed

Chief Executive, The 
Children’s Society