Letters: Council leader hits back at criticism of university building

Letters
Letters

Correspondence on the appearance of Aylesbury’s university campus are the subject of two letters this week.

DESIGN CHANGED

I read the letter last week about the appearance of the new university campus and agree completely about how bad it looks clad in white panels.

It is very different to the pictures on the adverts, which have larger windows and clear glass curtain walling.

I have done a bit of research on the AVDC planning website and find that the artist impression is from a 2010 drawing that was never approved.

The drawing that was approved is a bit different but still has large windows and specifies the infill panels should be ceramic backed and glass or cedar boarding dependent on location.

What then happened is that AVDC submitted an application to its own planning department with new drawings and it is those that are now being used.

Readers can look for themselves at application 10/C2567/NON.

What I cannot understand though is 1) why they submitted this as a “non-material” amendment when it is clearly a material change?, 2) why there was no consultation or advertising? (those dates are missing) and 3) why the builders are implementing the changes when the application is still shown as pending consideration?

Perhaps somebody in the planning department can explain.

Peter Rayner

Arnold Close, Stoke 
Mandeville

AVDC RESPONSE

I’d like to respond to the letter from Mrs King in last week’s Bucks Herald regarding the new University Campus Aylesbury Vale (UCAV).

Of course, Mrs King is perfectly entitled to express her views on the building.

I appreciate that design is subjective but I think we have created an aesthetically pleasing building that is a spectacular addition to Aylesbury – both architecturally and educationally.

The architectural design is obviously an important aspect of the project but we mustn’t overlook the value that UCAV will deliver.

This is a building which will bring great benefits to local people and businesses.

UCAV will offer new opportunities for progression in learning and skills directly related to the requirements of the local economy.

This is crucial both for the education and training needs of local people and for the success of local businesses and employers.

We have also created a new public square next to the canal basin, which will open up access to the whole of Waterside South from Walton Street and encourage greater use of the canal and towpath.

Memories can be short, but not so long ago it would have been impossible to even access one side of the canal towpath let alone spend leisurely time enjoying the waterside location.

The fact that Aylesbury will have its first university presence is something we should all be very proud of and, for me personally, it is an immense privilege to have been involved in this exciting project.

I am greatly looking forward to seeing the building open in the autumn.

Councillor Neil Blake

Leader of the Council

DO YOU HAVE BOOK?

From 1868 my great grandfather, Daniel Norris, lived in Dunsmore and became the tenant-farmer of Dunsmore Farm, and later also of Lodge Farm in Ellesborough, until his death in 1901. His son (my grandfather), John Frederick Norris, also a farmer, was born in Dunsmore in 1878.

Widowed in 1905, his wife (my grandmother), Daphne Norris, ran the only shop in Dunsmore for over 40 years, as well as being Dunsmore’s Baptist Mission Hall’s most active member until her death in 1939.

Her children (my long-deceased mother and her two brothers) were born and lived until adulthood in Dunsmore too.

In about 1908, author John Le Breton, AKA Thomas Murray Ford, residing in Dunsmore at that time, had a novel published called The Church and Thisbe (or Thisby) Grey. Its characters were based on Dunsmore villagers who included in particular, I believe, my grandmother.

Now very elderly, I live in a tiny town on Vancouver Island in Western Canada.

I am desperately anxious to locate a copy of that book so that I can picture Dunsmore as it once was and learn a little of how the villagers – and most of all, of course, my never-known grandmother – were perceived.

So I am appealing to your readers!

Perhaps, for instance, some had predecessors who lived in or near Dunsmore in 1908 who had a copy of the book?

It may miraculously have been passed on to present-day family members!

Perhaps someone has a collection of obscure old books about local personages in the early 1900s and this particular book is among them?

Perhaps someone reading this letter knows of someone who has the book?

I’d be delighted to hear from anyone who can help. My e-mail is jodomtam@gmail.com

Josephine (“Jo”) Sheridan

Vancouver Island, 
Canada

WE NEED LOCAL PLAN

With no local town plan in place, developers are encouraged to have a go for planning consent on any field adjoining existing development where a number of homes can profitably be fitted in.

Land off Barnett Way in Bierton is such a scheme.

The traffic generated would obviously add to the congestion to and from Aylesbury and therefore this proposal, and any other schemes around Bierton, should definitely not be considered until the construction of the Eastern Link Road connecting the A418 with the A41 has been completed.

An agreed local plan might also prevent highly speculative schemes being submitted for planning consent.

Mike Francis

Aylesbury Road, Bierton

SUNGLASSES BLUES

“Who wears sunglasses in the dark other than celebrities with an ego?” (Business eye column)

The Blues Brothers that’s who!

These guys saved an orphanage, despite the combined might of the Chicago police, US army and disgruntled country musicians trying to stop them.

They also delivered the money to the Cook County 
Accessor’s office with seconds to spare – thus saving the nuns and children from being evicted.

And they got the band back together to entertain an entire prison!

Even Jason Bourne would be hard pressed to pull all that off!

Besides, I like wearing sunglasses to meetings.

People are less likely to notice you’ve dozed off.

Bob Baughan

Address supplied

AN EXCELLENT MP

Whilst I support the principle of the petition referred to in last week’s letter it is important to balance the argument with John Bercow’s commitment to this area which, in my opinion, makes him an excellent constituency MP.

I accept he has no direct voice in the Commons or party political affiliation but, as the holder of the office of Speaker, he still has considerable influence when raising local issues.

The way in which the Speaker is selected and the lack of representation in the Commons is a matter that does require to be considered in the context of the constitutional rights of voters, but we are referring to an ancient tradition which has evolved over a very long period of time.

I agree that the system is in need of modernisation but it requires more thought and discussion than simply demanding a by-election.

Chris Whitehouse

Aysgarth House, Akeley

LOWER VOTING AGE

Turning 16 is a huge milestone. You can work full-time, pay taxes, get married or join the army. But there is one thing you can’t do: vote.

In last year’s Scottish Referendum 16-17-year-olds were given the right to vote for the first time, and three quarters of them did. Almost all of them said they would vote again in future.

This shows that when young people are given the opportunity to become politically engaged, they do just that.

Before the end of 2017 there will be another referendum, this time on whether the UK should remain part of the EU.

I believe the 13,400 16-17 year olds living in Buckinghamshire should be entitled to vote on this momentous decision over their future.

These young people have the most to lose from EU exit. It would be wrong to deny those already old enough to work and pay taxes from having their say.

This month the Conservative government was able to defeat an attempt to lower the voting age, despite 265 MPs voting for it. But the battle for votes at 16 isn’t over yet.

There will be more opportunities to change the voting age and ensure young people get their say.

Liberal Democrats have campaigned for votes at 16 for years, and we will keep fighting to make it happen.

Catherine Bearder

Lib Dem MEP for South East

DUTY TO LISTEN

An open letter to Aylesbury MP David Lidington:

I am writing to you to express my disappointment that you were unable to meet with myself and many other constituents on the June 17 on the subject of Climate Change.

The mass lobby was organised by the Climate Change Coalition and over 100 organisations were present from environmental NGOs such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, to interfaith groups such as CAFOD and Islamic Relief to humanitarian organisations such as Oxfam and Action Aid.

Over 10,000 concerned citizens were present at Westminster and over 250 MPs were successfully lobbied.

After waiting for two hours, we were able to speak with your case worker, Marcus Golding, who assured us that our concerns would be passed on. We do not feel that this is an adequate response to such a serious issue.

As representative of your constituents you have a duty to hear our concerns and I am sure I do not need to emphasise the extreme importance of this particular issue. The evidence for climate change is overwhelming and currently we are set to far exceed the 2oC that is currently the agreed ‘safe limit’ of warming to avoid disastrous consequences for humanity.

It is likely to be the poorest parts of the world which are hardest hit, despite having a far lower contribution to CO2 emissions in comparison with the wealthier citizens of our globe.

Due to rising sea levels, large areas of land are likely to be lost causing mass displacement of the inhabitants of such areas.

Due to increases in extreme weather events, the loss of life due to natural disasters is also set to rise dramatically if we exceed the 2oC limit.

Finally, the damage that such changes will do to the biodiversity of our planet will have unprecedented impacts on our global food and agricultural industries.

Those who met on June 17 would ask you, as MP for Aylesbury Vale and Minister for Europe, to ask the Prime Minister and Chancellor to back a low-carbon infrastructure plan, covering energy, transport and the restoration of nature.

Marcus Golding has been supplied with a fully detailed briefing paper with a list of our demands which would aid our goal in 100 per cent clean, safe energy by 2050. I look forward to your response to these demands.

Those present on June 17 did request a meeting with yourself in the near future and once we have a date set I shall endeavour to ensure this is available for any within the Aylesbury Vale constituency who wish to attend.

Sadly, you have been unwilling to represent the views of your constituents on the issue of HS2 and remain quiet on other environmental concerns.

Perhaps you may be able to champion our cause on this, the single biggest threat currently facing humanity.

Suzie McCarthy

Address supplied

WE NEED INCOME

I am writing in response to comments made by the deputy editor in last week’s Bucks Herald about councils competing with private businesses.

Let me put you in the picture – local authorities are existing in a time of unprecedented cuts from central government.

In 2010 we had £310 to spend on services for each household. By April 2015 this figure had shrunk to £219.

I’d love to say residents’ council tax bills cover the services AVDC provides but the £2.62 a week (average Band D property contribution) we receive from the precept goes nowhere near.

Central Government paid for the majority of services but now can not afford to continue to do so.

Drastically cutting key services is not an option. We have chosen, like other councils, to be more ‘business-like’. Between 2010 and the end of this financial year we will have saved more than £11 million. Some of this has come from efficiencies like management restructures, our staff car pool, printing less etc.

But efficiencies alone won’t work. We need to generate new income.

This is coming from initiatives such as our garden waste service, hiring out our offices at the Gateway and consultancy services. There’s no doubt that some of these streams compete with the private sector.

Adam King asks whether it is unfair that taxpayer-funded organisations compete with private businesses.

I would argue that a number of private businesses are also supported by the taxpayer – for example through business grants.

Small businesses often benefit centrally from lower tax bills and rates. Is this unfair too?

I’d say using our revenues to protect vital services is pretty well justified.

We’re focussing on a few areas where we believe we have the best the market has to offer. If we can do this for less than the private sector, without using tax payers money, then where is the business argument against that?

Unless the government is planning a funding U-turn, we must continue our commercial activity or risk losing the services our residents value and need.

Andrew Grant

Chief executive of Aylesbury Vale District Council

UGLY CINEMA

Did the council consider that after the demolition of the lovely old police station, that what would be more visible is the utter monstrosity of the cinema?

It’s so ugly and such a shame, especially when you have areas of beauty, like the wildflowers on and around the roundabout by Tring Road and also the open fields by Broughton Crossing – oh wait, that’s going to built on and destroyed too!

Marvellous!

Laura Griffiths

Address supplied

HS2 POEM

With half finished travel plans in the north of the country being abandoned because there are not funds, one wonders whether some others costing billions should be pursued?

Hope some of your readers might agree with the sentiment of the poem below.

HS2 be or not to be?

HS2 is it Dave’s ego trip?

Every other journey it will outstrip.

Maybe not the view, but the cost of it,

As tunnel through the Chilterns it will rip.

Although the fare to London, many cannot afford.

Up to this crowded city is where you must board.

Then back to where you started the engines will have roared.

Maybe twenty minutes speedier to Birmingham could be your reward.

Do not worry there is no business case.

‘Cause plans by investors? are in place.

So to a debt like Greece we can race.

And of the tranquil Chiltern countryside there’ll be no trace.

But HS2 will be good for the country.

Trust Dave, he says so.

So speed on HS2, yes Hey ho,

You’ll enjoy the journey, it certainly won’t be slow..

Pip Rance

Langdon Avenue, Aylesbury