Letters to the editor in this week’s Bucks Herald newspaper includes:
It was extraordinary to think of “celebrating” the outbreak of any war - and certainly not with a fair and fun and games.
I am thoroughly in agreement with Dr Rose.
I am amazed at the crassness and sheer ignorance of thosewho proposed it.
What terrible human disaster will they think of “celebrating” next - the Holocaust, perhaps?
POLITICIANS LETTER TO TORIES
Copy of a letter sent to Grant Shapps MP Chairman of the Conservative Party from former AVDC cabinet member Phil Yerby who has joined UKIP
It is not without considerable thought that I write to inform you of my decision to renounce my membership of the Conservative Party and my place on the party’s List of Candidates.
I believe politics has to change. Having experienced politics close up for seven years I have become increasingly of the opinion that politicians govern in their own self interests.
The sense of entitlement at every level of government is staggering - I do not have to go back far to prove my point.
The latest expenses scandal and the reaction of those who “rally round” says it all.
The HS2 project will be an absolute blight on our landscape, and David Cameron is fanatical about pushing it through despite the strength of public feeling against it.
I have always been on record as saying I will resign if HS2 goes ahead and there seems little prospect of any change of heart on this.
I urge you to re-consider. The Conservative Party also appear to want to destroy local communities by an insatiable appetite to build houses in the most inappropriate places and in direct opposition to the views of the majority of local people – whatever happened to Localism?
UKIP represent a real opportunity to restore the faith of ordinary people in politics.
It’s not a party which consists of career politicians, it’s a party which is in touch with the big issues which face the country and how this impacts the lives of people.
There is no whipping system which I find one of the most anachronistic elements of politics.
I am always appalled by those who do not put the interests of their constituents ahead of their desire to please their political masters.
I always came into politics to give something back and to represent my constituents without fear or favour.
In the Conservative Party I was appalled that I was ordered to vote a particular way well in advance of hearing any debate.
Even when members of the public made excellent points in front of us the local political elite had already decided to completely ignore them.
When I dared to offer an alternative view there were people in the Party who tried to hound me out.
Thankfully this was roundly defeated and not given any credence by the local party for which I am grateful.
However, the fact still remains is that my view of the Conservative Party, whether at local or National level, is run by an small elite interested in governing for the few, not the many.
It is time to get back to “Government of the people, by the people, for the people” and restore the faith into our great British democracy.
Although my resignation will no doubt not make big news, I hope in some small way it will assist you in identifying what needs to be done if the Conservative Party has any chance of regaining wider public confidence.
School Lane, Weston Turville
IT WAS A PARASITE
I have been reading the story regarding the diarrhoea outbreak at Aqua Vale swimming pool.
The report wrongly states throughout that the causative organism is a bacteria, when in fact it is a parasite.
Parasites are transmitted and treated differently to bacteria, Cryptosporidium will have been passed by a human and is unharmed by chlorine.
Cryptosporidium can also have a very low infective dose thus being easily transmitted. The water testing performed by the pool will not detect parasites.
VILLAGE WILL PAY
As you reported last week, we have received £10,000 in damages “in full and final settlement of all of the claims for loss and damage …. against the Parish Council its agents and officers and Mr Richard Maskell in relation to the removal of any boundary structures and for trespass distress and inconvenience”.
When the fence is restored, we will be out of pocket, but we hope the amenity for dog-walkers and others enjoying the woodland path will be improved.
Our legal costs have yet to be assessed by the court, but the council is responsible for paying these, on top of all they have spent on professional fees so far.
Like every other resident of the village we will bear our share of the costs of the council’s ill-conceived actions.
Now that council tax payers of this village have become aware that the majority of Aston Clinton’s annual precept (council tax) income is to be spent on a needless boundary dispute with ourselves, it is important that we all learn more about what has been going on in the ‘closed sessions’ of Aston Clinton Parish Council where the councillors decided on their actions.
We can shed some light. Following a constructive meeting with ourselves, the council wrote to tell us that on 2nd May 2012 they had resolved not to pursue any claim to the boundary being on the north side of the stream.
Had they honoured this, then at no cost to the public, we would have re-fenced to give the public the access to the water, which the council seemed to think they wanted. But the council went back on this in the map they sent to us two months later. Our trust in them was damaged by this about-turn, and further damaged when they came onto our property and dismantled our fence in January 2013.
However, we agreed to an expensive meeting on 5th February 2013 with lawyers for both sides and four councillors present.
At the end of this six hour meeting, ‘Heads of Agreement’ were signed by us and by Mr Richard Maskell ‘Chairman, Aston Clinton Parish Council.’
The agreement needed ratifying by the council, and had they done so then they would have needed to pay us only £280 in damages - also tens of thousands of pounds in legal fees would have been saved.
But the council, strangely, decided not to ratify the agreement at their March meeting.
They were given one more chance to ratify it at the April 2013 meeting, and told that otherwise it would no longer be on the table.
Not only did they not ratify but they went on to commit further serious trespass and to erect notices wrongly claiming the stream belonged to them.
We could not trust them after this, which is why we applied for a court injunction against the council, and sued them successfully.
Now that the boundary is legally recognised by the council we will put up a permanent parkland railing fence in keeping with those in the area.
We are, as we said, saddened that all of us in the village have had to bear the huge cost of council actions. Had they honoured their agreements, we would all be better off.
Edward and Linda Peile
Old Rectory Farm, Stablebridge Road, Aston Clinton
FROM THE STREETS
The Princes Risborough NSPCC volunteer committee, led by Major General Stuart Watson held a successful street collection in the town on Saturday 29th March.
The volunteers would like to say thank you to all who donated so generously to the collection which totalled £279.28.
The money raised for the NSPCC will go towards the vulnerable and abused children of the UK.
If you are interested in raising funds for the NSPCC, please contact me on 07748 321461 or email Fiona.email@example.com
Community Fundraising manager (Thames Valley) NSPCC
I ﬁnd it quite revealing to see how the leaderships of the various Conservative Associations across Bucks use and abuse the undoubted natural support they have from the traditional Tory electorate.
It is known and assumed that the faithful will vote Conservative irrespective of the chosen candidate and sure enough by this means Bucks has been solidly blue for many years.
But are these voters actually getting the representatives they imagine? Are the leading Tory cliques of the ﬁve Bucks local authorities representing the electorate that faithfully return them to ofﬁce? Could it be that these leaders cynically use that traditional support to their own ends?
I have been a member of Aylesbury Vale District Council for 15 years and have been proud to represent the people of Aylesbury Vale and the Wingrave ward.
I am however, increasingly concerned by the way leading Conservative members of the Council manipulate democracy, stiﬂe debate and use (and abuse) their own back bench members to create a culture that may be more about maintaining personal power bases than representing the people of the Vale.
Tory backbenchers are being cajoled into supporting their leaderships by threat of sanction and or expulsion.
This wholly unhealthy situation also seems to prevail at Chiltern and Wycombe District Councils and it needs attention from the only people who can sort it out, YOU, the electorate.
As for me, whilst my natural political territory is to the right of centre, I will remain proudly
Independent of these political manoeuvrings and will continue to represent people, not any inward looking political party.
I will continue to argue that the ﬁve Bucks councils, their ﬁve sets of administration, their 248 councillors and their comfortable leaderships should be rationalised to just one efﬁcient authority.
By the way, your readers should be told that the newly formed Task & Finish Group that was recently set up by the AVDC Finance & Services Scrutiny committee to look at the pros and cons of a Bucks Unitary Council, was on Wednesday 9th April, squashed by senior Tory members before there was a single word of debate.
So it would appear that the Blake dynasty at AVDC has decreed the subject off limits.
Perhaps Cllr Blake (leader) and/or Cllr Mrs Blake (Tory spokesperson against Unitary) and the other Bucks leaders, would like to reply to this letter and tell us exactly why our local government structure should remain unchanged?
Cllr Peter Cooper
Independent AVDC Wingrave
Street clutter such as irresponsibly placed shop advertising signs (A-Boards) and pavement cafe furniture can obstruct and hamper a person’s progress on the street.
Keeping pathways clear is particularly crucial for the independence of people who are blind and partially sighted.
A recent Guide Dogs survey for their Streets Ahead campaign showed A-Boards and cafe furniture are both in the top ten most common street clutter items, acting as a real barrier to a person’s independence. Shockingly, 65% of those with sight loss have been injured by street clutter too.
It also prevents wheelchair users and other vulnerable pedestrians from using the pavements with confidence.
Several local councils have already introduced measures to reduce unnecessary clutter.
For example shops can use window adverts instead of multiple A-boards to entice customers and improve the street for pedestrians.
I would like people to join me in a campaign to ask the council to introduce measures to tackle unnecessary street clutter and ensure that our high street is fully accessible to those who are blind or partially sighted.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about their campaign and survey findings.
WHO IS CHECKING?
BCC’s Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee was due yesterday (Tuesday) to approve its report on urgent care in Bucks on 15 April.
The report concludes that “the evidence justifying the provision of a single A&E in the county based at Stoke Mandeville, and an MIIU/Urgent Care Centre at Wycombe Hospital in the best interests of the county’s residents and their health outcomes to be unarguable”.
Many people will be reassured by this categorical assurance from BCC that the decision to close the Emergency Medical Centre in Wycombe Hospital was the right one.
However, it is worth looking closely at this “unarguable evidence”.
The report says there is a balance to be struck between the advantages of centralising emergency services (where it is easier to provide specialist services 24/7) and the disadvantages of patients travelling further to that centre, particularly in rural areas.
Basically you are better off once you reach a specialist centre but you may get worse or die before you get there.
Trusts are strongly advised to monitor patient outcomes after centralising to “provide assurance that patients travelling further are not experiencing significantly worse results”.
So I looked in the report for the data of patient outcomes before and after centralising A&E at Stoke Mandeville – but I couldn’t find this important data anywhere. The closest I could find was BCC being reassured by NHS representatives “that the benefits were not diminished in Bucks.
Ambulance journey times for Wycombe district residents to A&E are only five minutes longer on average than before the 2012 reconfiguration, the Ambulance service are not aware of people dying on route to the hospital because of the journey time, and this is not perceived as a major risk by them”.
Did the Select Committee scrutinise this information? Is it really right that average journey times for Wycombe residents to A&E are only five minutes longer than when the A&E was in Wycombe?
And did the Select Committee realise that ambulance services are not getting to patients who are critically injured quickly enough.
So whatever the extra length of time it takes to get the patient to A&E, it could be on top of an unacceptable wait for the ambulance.
How does the ambulance service know no-one died (or got worse) because of the extra journey time?
Who is monitoring the patient outcomes before and after the changes - and where is the data?
How can BCC reassure the public so categorically if it doesn’t bother to scrutinise the evidence rigorously? Does it actually know what scrutiny means?
Health spokesperson , Wycombe Labour Party
EU BEE LINE
I am concerned that in the UK and other northern European nations, bee colonies according to a recent EU study, are collapsing at a faster rate than in comparison to southern Europe countries like in Greece and Italy.
The decision by the European Union last year to ban the use of chemicals like neonicotinoids which are used in pesticides, has been linked by some scientists to the alarming collapse in bee colonies across the UK and northern Europe.
Let’s not forget how important wild bees are in acting as vital pollinators to the eco-system.
The role of bees is extremely important to mankind’s ability to feed the population, so it is vital that we do all that we can to help support the bee population to recover.
I am urging the European Environment Agency to reassess bee safety of all neonicotinoid pesticide products, to re-examine or suspend all conditional registrations until there is a better understanding on how to manage risks, and require clear labels so that consumers know that these products kill bees and other pollinators.
I would also like to hear from constituents who have views on the issue by emailing me personally at email@example.com.
MEP for South East England, European Parliament
On 29th January, 2013, when we were residents of Aston Clinton, we wrote to Aston Clinton Parish Council after they had seen fit for the Chairman and a groundsman to enter the Peile’s land at Old Rectory Farm and tear down the Peile’s fence.
We made clear to the Council that “we do not believe that the highly questionable pursuit of a dispute over the boundary position should be a priority for the Council.”
We asked then (15 months ago) “why the Council has decided to take this action and on whose authority? What is the budget for this?”
In their reply of 31st January, 2013 the council wrote “The owners of Old Rectory Farm agreed in writing that the section of fence that was removed by the Parish Council had been mistakenly installed by them on public property.”
It turns out that the statement the Council was making was completely untrue.
In settling the court case, the Council has now had to accept that they were trespassing on Old Rectory Farm land when they removed fence.
In May we had to come to the rescue of Linda Peile, when she found the Council again attacking their fence, this time rooting out posts with a JCB digger.
We can fully sympathise with the Peiles, who had no choice but to take legal action against Aston Clinton Parish Council and against the Chairman, Mr. Maskell, to try to stop the bullying tactics being employed.
We were shocked to hear that the Chairman had made a public statement two weeks ago at the Council meeting on 2nd April, 2014, “Had we got insurance for the boundary, we would have contested it in the court. We have insurance but it didn’t cover at the time, legal cover,” he said.
The inference being that the Council would have been able to succeed had they the funds.
Mr Maskell is being economic with the truth in making this statement. The point of law upon which the Council now rely to annex the land is one which is employed typically by squatters and unscrupulous developers.
We believe that this is not what should be expected from a publicly funded body.
Before the Peiles bought the land the stream in question was overgrown vandalised and used as a dumping ground.
The Peiles have spent thousands of pounds clearing it and improving the ecology.
In the so claimed 40 years of use by the public how much was spent by the Council to keep it clear?
It is plain to see from the Chairman’s statement in your article last week that the Council is trying to pin the blame on the Peiles for the 22% rise in precept charged to Aston Clinton residents.
The truth is that the costs of this case fall squarely on Mr Maskell and the Parish Council.
Perhaps the residents of Aston Clinton should ask whether their Parish Councillors are properly acting in their best interests.
Mr and Mrs G Berry
After Green End,Standhill Lane, Little Haseley