Letters to the editor in this week’s newspaper include:
RIGHT TO REPLY
I would like to take issue with the contents of a letter from Labour Councillor Michael Beall in last week’s Bucks Herald.
My colleague Howard Mordue will respond to the inaccuracies about the Jonathan Page Play Centre and other issues that are aimed at him on an unacceptable personal basis.
My first concern is centred around his statement about “a nice little water feature in Kingsbury”.
The last Labour Government - his party - gave AVDC the money to fund the fountains and Lord Rooker, a Labour Peer visited the site and even climbed down to see the control mechanisms working, he was impressed so the fountains had his approval. The grant for this project totalled £1.7m.
This all came about because Kingsbury was in a mess. A public inquiry had been held into the pedestrianisation of Kingsbury, but there was no money to carry out the recommendations.
The taxi drivers had been moved out of Kingsbury and were threatening to go back in by blockading the town etc. fortunately this did not happen.
The area was being used as a car park and for drunken behaviour. The businesses in Kingsbury were asking for the public toilets to be closed due to drugs.
AVDC drew up plans, hoping to fund it gradually. Then the Labour Government offered us funding, so Kingsbury went ahead.
As far as the fountains are concerned, they worked well and were enjoyed by all until the Labour Government, in its wisdom, bought in harsher health and safety rules for checking water quality.
Because of this interference with local amenities, a number of towns removed their water features
The refurbishment of Kingsbury was very positive - it has given Aylesbury an area for community use, it has brought life back into this part of town, with restaurants and outside seating etc.
Long term we are again looking to the pedestrianisation of Kingsbury following the success of the pedestrianisation of the Upper High Street.
My other concern relates to the Gateway Conference Centre which is the head office of AVDC.
The efficiencies brought about by centralising staff into one area instead of being spread across more than seven sites is incalculable.
As an example these efficiencies contributed to the £2.4 million we have saved to allow us to bring in a balanced budget for 2014/15.
The most important thing that people like Michael fail to recognise is the fact the Gateway Conference Centre was built, among other things, as a conference centre that is becoming very popular with companies and organisations from far and wide.
This facility, the envy of a number of other councils, is generating a lot of income that is to the benefit of the council tax payers of the Vale, and is part of our strategy going forward to continue to generate money making opportunities to help counter the cuts forced upon us by a government trying to put right the worst financial situation this country has ever experienced that was created by the last Labour Administration.
I finish by asking Michael that whoever is writing these letters on his behalf are briefed with the correct facts to stop misleading local residents and to stop espousing the usual socialist dogma that distorts the true facts.
Councillor for Mandeville and Elm Farm, cabinet member for civic amenities, AVDC
Cllr Beall (letters March 19) fails to raise the points that are reported on page 22 of the same newspaper with regard to the Jonathan Page Centre.
This is one of the most difficult decisions the Cabinet has had to take. The funding of £60,000+ for 17 children is borne by all of AVDC taxpayers.
Nobody disputes that the service is important to the parents who use it, but should a subsidy of the only after school and holiday club in the Vale, be funded by only taxpayers?
The council is seeking to find others who may operate the service without this burden to taxpayers.
As far as community centres go there is an ongoing dialogue with the centres, users and parishes in Aylesbury to see if they would be interested in running the centres themselves, not closing them.
In the Labour world money is no object, but in the real world you have to live within your means, which is why AVDC has saved £7.5million in the last four years and have to save the same again by 2018/19.
We are using the diminishing amount of money from government (regardless of which government gets into power at the next election) to preserve essential services.
Jonathan Page is one of the most difficult decisions we have had to make so far, but with diminishing government funding income we have to make these difficult decisions.
I find it hard to understand why standing as an election candidate for the Liberal Democrats 11 years ago or being a Church Warden has anything to do with the Jonathan Page Play Centre!
I don’t regret being a Liberal Democrat but my views have changed and I have moved on.
He (Beall) infers that cabinet members especially myself have no idea what it is like, as it is for him, to be on low income and benefits.
I brought up three children on my own, struggled with the mortgage, faced redundancy and to keep financially afloat spent four hours a day commuting to Park Royal in London.
I chose, after getting married a few years ago, to live where my new wife and her late husband had lived in Wappenham.
It was when the parish council was desperate for members I agreed to be co-opted onto the council; is this also wrong?
Is life in a village idyllic? The shop closed a few years ago, no pub or post office, and an infrequent bus service and although I love living in a village, as you get older, it becomes more difficult.
There is a lot going on in Buckingham and we spend much of our spare time either attending, or being involved in events; so eventually we will move back to the house I bought in 1972.
Although there will be other difficult decisions ahead, especially for leisure, it is more about finding better ways of providing, not necessarily cutting, essential services.
I am proud to be a Cabinet Member on AVDC and to represent Buckingham South, but also to be a part of the plans to make Aylesbury and all the other towns and villages that make up the Vale, a great place to live and to promote economic growth in the Vale.
Cabinet member for leisure
It feels like almost every week, on random evenings, Wendover Road residents are being disturbed by noisy roadworks, with absolutely no warning.
Just before 8pm the other evening, I heard what sounded like close range fireworks, followed by loud blowtorch sounds and looked out my window to see vans and workmen outside my neighbours driveway cutting into the road.
If BCC insists on continually digging up this section of road, can they please show us the courtesy of notifying residents beforehand, especially if they are going to create so much noise immediately outside someone’s living room, and also blocking their driveway on repeat occasions.
We all work hard each day, get our kids to bed and pets calmed down, and we wouldn’t mind being able to relax in our own homes in the evening with a little bit of peace and quiet.
Please put a note through the door before you wake our kids, frighten our dogs, or drown out the sound of our conversation!
According to the national news, it is being recommended that in order to expedite and maximise the potential gain from HS2, the Government need to appoint a “ hardworking” Cabinet Minister who will be entitled “Minister for HS2”.
Bearing in mind our own constituent MP, Mr David Lidington’s refusal to speak against this project, the writer would like to nominate the said Mr Lidington for this soon to be created Cabinet position of Minister for HS2, no doubt with special responsibilities for ignoring the wishes of the very people who voted for him in the first place!
Many feel that having “sold out” his constituents for a position in cabinet, this new post seems the obvious and ideal next stop for our ambitious and very focussed Parlimentary representative.
As a matter of fact, it is only fair to declare the writer’s interest in the matter.
The coming of HS2 has already forced the writer to move his business across town, well away from the mess that will be Stoke Mandeville, and the inevitable destruction of what has been a successful Mobility Business which was formally sited for 12 years at the Bucks Goat Centre in Stoke Mandeville.
The HS2 construction would have been devastating for both the business and more importantly its customers.
The enforced move to the Rabans Lane Industrial Estate on the other side of town, at no small cost and absolutely no compensation, was therefore essential.
But then we can all see that political advancement together with higher financial rewards and pensions, could well be considerably more important to our MP Mr Lidington, rather than the needs of a “hardworking” local businessman.
Simmons Court, Aylesbury
I was very pleased to see that at last dogs will be banned from the cemetery.
On several occasions I have visited family gravestones, and there has been dog mess on the stone. Which really upset me.
Also there was mess on the footpaths. Which had been trodden on. It was absolutely disgusting.
In the summer you could smell the dog mess after staff had cut the grass and had upset the mess. It is not fair on the staff.
CHEW ON THIS
Re: New bins are something to chew over. (Bucks Advertiser March 21st)
Thank goodness new waste bins are being introduced into Aylesbury Town Centre.
Recycle bins with compartments for different kinds of rubbish are such a good idea.
It is especially pleasing to hear there will be a section for unwanted gum and cigarette butts as our street cleaners cost the tax payer several thousands of pounds each year.
Gum stuck onto pavements has never looked attractive and while other councils are fining gum litterers, maybe new bins will be the only deterrent Aylesbury needs.
Cllr Barbara Russel
Town Centre Ward