Letters: David Aylett, Europe, sugar tax, school reform, wind turbine, freight strategy and housing

Your letters
Your letters

The importance of David Aylett to Aylesbury’s music scene features heavily this week, alongside many other interesting opinions to get your teeth into.

Music

Proud of concerts

This is just to supplement the correspondence about the musical life of Aylesbury, set in motion by the idea of a David Bowie statue.

It should be noted that since the 1980s weekly mainly classical music concerts (albeit of works with small forces - up to nine so far) have been held at St Mary’s Church on Thursday lunchtimes.

Somewhat transformed in recent years, they now have a reputation which reaches way beyond the Vale, and probably no comparable town in the UK has a series so rich in adventure and diversity.

Week in, week out, professional musicians from all over the world delight what is, after all, a significant minority of music-lovers in the local community, and nowadays way beyond.

This audience has just had the pleasure of seeing one of the UK’s finest young violinists, Charlotte Rowan; this week, for Holy week, there is a performance of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, and in the near future two of the country’s finest jazz musicians will be demonstrating the art of improvisation. And so on and so forth, and all for a nominal admission; and totally self-funding.

I help to run these concerts, and am proud to do so.

As a finale, we are always being told they are ‘the best thing in Aylesbury’; so I think they should be recognised along with the flourishing performance societies who rightly made their call last week as part of the LIVING warp and weft of the town’s musical life.

David Mulraney

One of the Music at 
Lunchtime team

Statue

David Aylett please

I write to endorse the views of your correspondent on music in Aylesbury.

We have long had a flourishing amateur tradition in the town, thanks to the enthusiastic participation of Aylesburians.

I know nothing of David Bowie, and cannot venture an opinion.

Personally, however, I would suggest a statue of David Aylett, for his long and dedicated contribution to music in our town would be really appreciated by all who knew him and his work over many years.

Thus a Aylesbury statue of an Aylesbury man, remembered with respect and affection.

Sheila Butcher

Hillary Close, Aylesbury

Legacy

Complete musician

Picking up on last week’s letter, I fully endorse the view that if statues for musicians are to be erected, then one should be raised for David Aylett, a complete musician, who did far more for the music of Aylesbury over many years than David Bowie, whose brief association with transient music only came to many people’s attention following his recent death.

Let’s get matters in proportion!

Derrick Matthews

Address supplied

Campaign

Seduced by fame

I must agree with the correspondent whose letter to the Bucks Herald appeared last week (March 16, 2016) under the heading “It’s not just Friars”.

David Bowie appears to have had at best a very tenuous connection with Aylesbury, and his lifestyle and brand of music are certainly not to everyone’s taste. Is it to be expected, I wonder, that any pop singer who has made a handful of appearances in the town will now have a statue erected in his or her honour?

We seem to be so seduced in recent years by anyone deemed to be a “legend”, an “icon” or a “celebrity” that we risk overlooking those quiet people of immense musical talent – composers, performers and teachers – who work tirelessly but unostentatiously to bring musical pleasure to the people of Aylesbury and the surrounding areas.

I would question whether a statue of David Bowie will generate any income at all for Aylesbury and hope that the councils which are still to decide on the matter will take a less star struck view than the town council seems to have done.

Margaret Ross

Drayton Beauchamp

Strategy

Freight matters

There appears to have been a good response to the consulation on the Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan.

Analysis of the comments is likely to be a challenging exercise.

Therefore it is not certain when an approved Local Plan will be available to manage proposed developments. Meanwhile, there are two existing policy statements which are too important to be overlooked.

These are the county’s Local Transport Plan and Freight Strategy, both of which should guide decisions on any scheme which contains new traffic routes or affects existing ones.

That means any roads of higher status than internal distributor roads provided for the benefit of the development.

The county policies arise from duties imposed by Parliament to make provision for transporting freight (ie lorry routes), securing free movement of traffic and reducing congestion.

The Local Transport Plan recognises that congestion has an impact on the County’s economy.

The Freight Strategy identifies the need to minimise and mitigate the impacts of noise, odours and emissions from freight vehicles. District councils also have that duty in regard to air quality management.

These are important matters. It does not seem that they have been receiving sufficient attention.

OJ Oliver

Campion Close, Aylesbury

Housing

Power of money

Neighbourhood Plans, the Government says, allow local communities to decide where new houses should be built.

The reality, as Haddenham has just found, is very different (“Haddenham loses support from council over plan”, March 9).

It all comes down to money. One hectare (2 acres) of land is worth 100 times as much with planning permission for housing as without it.

With such permission, one hectare in the south-east is worth about £5 million. So a 22 hectare field is worth over £100 million; that is before any houses are built, with further profits to the developers.

That is a powerful incentive for a developer to crawl over every minute detail of a neighbourhood plan, produced – the Government emphasises – by “neighbours” rather than consultants or town planners.

It is a powerful incentive then to employ expensive lawyers to pursue every legal route to overturn the plan.

When Aylesbury Vale District Council went back on its original decision to uphold Haddenham’s democratic Neighbourhood Plan, it left Haddenham facing legal bills of at least £50,000 and possibly much more.

That may be small beer for a developer with £100 million to gain, but it is far more than any parish council can reasonably afford.

This is an outrageous situation.

The Government has disclaimed any responsibility for planning where houses should be built.

Aylesbury Vale District Council is currently struggling to plan for the Vale and is assailed by other districts asking it to build more; it says it supports neighbourhood plans but ignominiously backs away when the chips are down.

Haddenham residents accepted that more houses would be built around the village, but wanted to have a say in where they should go.

Now even that right has been taken away from them and they have been overcome by the power of money.

Professor Sir Roderick Floud FBA

Flint Street, Haddenham

Car seats

EU helps safety

Eurosceptic parents up and down the country must be rejoicing at the increasing prospect of a Brexit.

For years, parents in this country have fallen victim to the draconian laws passed by nameless bureaucrats in Brussels regulating the safety of child car seats!

We remember the days we could drive our children in our cars without EU regulation in the way of free enterprise and our British way of life.

On a serious note, our children have greatly benefited from the high levels of safety brought on by the EU standards.

These standards are not just the dictate of a bureaucrat in Brussels but are a culmination of hard work that goes into hundreds of hours of crash testing and safety work.

Having a single directive across the EU allows ALL countries to share the high level of safety without having to individually invest in research and products.

Our children’s safety in our cars is just another one of the countless, overlooked benefits of the EU which we risk losing if we follow some of our hard-nosed Eurosceptic overlords.

Huseyin Caglayan

Buckland

Sugar tax

A sweet victory

The tax on sugary drinks announced in George Osborne’s Budget is a bold but excellent move – particularly since the cash will be spent on school sports.

To those who decry this levy, it’s worth pointing out that one in 10 children enter state education suffering from obesity and that this figure doubles to one in five by the time they leave primary school.

The damage to their health and futures is incalculable, and so the tax is doubly significant in that the money raised will go to improving sport in primary schools.

I am also delighted that the Budget announced that about 25 per cent of secondary schools will be able to opt in to a longer school day from September 2017 so that they can offer a wider range of activities for pupils, including sports and PE

My organisation, Leap – the Sport & Activity Partnership for Bucks & MK – campaigns tirelessly for young and old alike to become more active.

Lack of activity is a killer, as is obesity, and Mr Osborne’s Budget sends a powerful and refreshing message to everyone that it’s time we all started addressing our lifestyle habits.

The Treasury has so far not decided how much extra it will force producers to pay for sweetened drinks.

Along with other campaigners, we would like it to be in the region of 20 per cent.

We know not everyone will be happy at having to pay more for their favourite soft drinks, but ultimately the general public will reap huge benefits.

The net result should be more children enjoying sport and fewer consuming sugar.

Where’s the downside in that?

My message is that everyone who believes in healthy living should raise their (sugar-free) glasses and celebrate this tax on sweetened drinks.

Mark Ormerod

Director of Leap, The Sport and Activity Partnership for Bucks & MK

Democracy

School governors

After the Chancellor’s announcement in his Budget that parent governors would no longer be allowed, unless they had special skills, can anyone enlighten me as to how their presence on the Board of Governors hampers the overseeing of schools where their own children attend?

Also announced, the making all schools into academies run by charities or 
businesses.

This is with money from central government plus donations from their sponsors and is surely going to diminish accountability of such schools to people through their local elected representatives.

This seems yet another scheme being foisted upon the public and money poured into charities initiated or favoured by the governing elite, without these politicians being directly answerable.

It must be time citizens formed associations, regardless of political parties, of all adults, young and old to focus on what matters to us all where we live and getting proper democratic accountability from those trusted with government at both local and national level.

After all, everyone should be inspired that Buckinghamshire is the county of John Hamden who first proclaimed “No taxation without representation!”

Merelene M. Davis

Chesham

Wind turbine

Angel of the Vale

When first she appeared in our Vale

we didn’t like her one little bit.

She was far too big and out of scale;

An appalling piece of kit.

She can be seen from Weedon to Waddesdon

and from Whitchurch to Wendover.

And there she is when you crest a hill

standing defiantly in a field of broad leafed clover.

But how we would miss her now

if she disappeared from our Vale.

With her pure white slender form

and gently circling sails.

Richard Stevenson

Whitchurch

Referendum

Qualified voters

It appears from Mr Watson’s letter last week that he is a bit confused.

In my letter two weeks ago I didn’t say that only the elite should vote in the EU referendum.

I said that voting should be restricted to people of average IQ and above because of the complexity of the issue.

That isn’t only the elite. It is half the population.

However, he says that ‘one is going to need psychic powers to predict the best way forward’.

That sentence provides the perfect foundation for saying that voting SHOULD be restricted to the elite.

It is normal to have to pass tests to do certain things or get certain jobs.

Mr Weston wouldn’t like to have his brain operated on by a plumber.

You have to have minumum qualifications to be a lawyer, engineer or electrician.

I also think that you should have to have minimum qualifications to vote in referendums to ensure the vote is valid.

(Mr Hill’s letter last week says that my views are distasteful but he doesn’t explain why so there isn’t much I can say about that).

N Hayes

Address supplied