DCSIMG

Letters round-up (including Arla award and Asda’s size)

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Letters to the editor which appeared in this week’s Bucks Herald newspaper include:

TRAFFIC

I wonder if it is possible for the residents of Bedgrove/A41 area to be honoured with an award for enduring significant traffic jams (soon to be made worse by the traffic lights), noise from nightly road works until Dec 9th, and general disruption?

What utter nonsense that AVDC, who granted permission for the construction of ARLA factory in the first place, now seek to give an award for the design of the building!

One assumes that the awards committee is funded by we taxpayers.

An award seeking Bedgrove resident

Jean Foster

Bedgrove, Aylesbury

HOSPITAL PARKING

I write to you, very concerned and disgusted at the interview on Mix 96 on 26th November, concerning parking tickets issued to a nurse at Stoke Mandeville hospital, this should never be allowed to happen.

I feel it deplorable that SMH do not have designated parking for these nurses and doctors, who are providing an excellent service to the public, they are under enough pressure with more important things, such as yours and my health, without having to start to hunt for a parking space before starting their “taken for granted by so many job.”

For the past 12 months or so I have had to attend Stoke Mandeville, and cannot fault the way that I have been treated by nurses, doctors and reception alike, a service second to none.

We hear so much about the NHS.... but by allocating parking spaces for the staff, would and can only improve and relieve stress, thus helping all concerned.

I would implore encourage readers to write in and support the nurses and doctors to get allocated parking.

Walford Woolf (Mr)

By email

DRIVING AMBITION

There can’t be many issues which cause more trouble for local people than traffic congestion. I drive through the new Tring Road junction almost every day, and I have received more communication from the electorate on this one subject than on any other.

At any new junction - and particularly the Oakfield one - I find that I have to concentrate far more on my driving.

There’s more than a few times I’ve had to save myself from carelessly swinging to the right on a green signal before realising I should be looking at the traffic ahead.

Another danger at complex junctions is that drivers may become so frustrated with the changes of signal and the stopping and starting of their movement within the queue that their impatience will lead them to make mistakes. I’ve certainly noticed that what one might call the atmosphere on the road is more aggressive than it was, not just at this one junction, but all over town.

I have a lot of sympathy for traffic management officers who try to create workable systems in unforgiving urban environments. Aylesbury clearly needs a bypass, but even were that to be built, as drivers we need to make life as safe and straightforward for ourselves as we can.

It’s hard to remember sometimes that driving is supposed to be an enjoyable process and make our lives easier.

Over the next few months, I will be working together with Aylesbury Advanced Motorists in order to improve my own driving and to highlight the value of advanced driving for all. I will be learning advanced driving techniques from their experienced instructors, and will take a demanding practical test in a few months time.

There is absolutely no guarantee that I will pass, but between now and then I will be blogging my progress on the Aylesbury Town Council website.

The inspiration to do this challenge, and the idea of promoting safe and efficient driving in Aylesbury, came from my predecessor the late Cllr Steve Patrick.

I hope to continue the work he began. I would also like to thank Aylesbury Advanced Motorists, who are very friendly and approachable, and are guiding me through the process.

Driving conditions in our town are probably more demanding than they have ever been. One simple way to help improve conditions is to try to become a better, safer driver.

That is one of my mayoral projects for the next few months and - hopefully - for life.

Tom Hunter-Watts

Aylesbury Town Mayor

ASDA

We are writing in response to your correspondent who wrote into last week’s issue of the Bucks Herald headed ‘ Not fit for purpose’ (Issue 27 Nov.) Name and Address Supplied.

Morbaine, the agents acting on behalf of ASDA, originally applied for a store more than 3 times the size of the newly opened store. As the local councillors we organised a petition, lobbied the Strategic Development Control Commiittee at AVDC, and were successful in getting the original plan refused. Morbaine then went to appeal and lost, they were then made to pay £3,800 in costs to AVDC.

Several months later Morbaine submitted another planning application this time for a smaller store. Again we attended meetings, and forcefully represented the objections of our residents at the final decision meeting of the Strategic Development Control Committee.

This new application was passed on material planning considerations – which is something beyond our control. As a result of our continued pressure we were successful in getting the store size reduced, the positioning of the store further back from the road, extra landscaping and very importantly, a commitment to assist with a parking strategy for the Kynaston/ Winterton Drive area.

We have always been very active in supporting our residents from the moment we were elected. At present we are extremely busy fighting for a solution to the inconsiderate car parking on the streets around the hospital area for the residents living there.

The good news is that the hospital have now given a firm undertaking to build a Multi-Story Car Park starting work in February 2014, with completion expected around late Summer.

We have also got the management of ASDA to stop their staff from parking on the side roads. We are working closely with officers from BCC and AVDC to bring about a long term solution to these horrendous parking problems.

In the new year we are planning a public meeting for all the local residents to enable them to have the opportunity to discuss their concerns, and for us to get a consensus on a way forward. As well as officers from BCC, we will be inviting representatives from the hospital and ASDA management teams.

As the elected representatives for the area we are very active working (sometimes 7 days a week, like most local councillors) on behalf of the residents of Mandeville and Elm Farm, our daily emails indicate this work is appreciated.

Brian Roberts, Brian 
Tyndall, Sue Chapple, 
Denise Summers

Councillors for Mandeville and Elm Farm

TRAFFIC OUTRAGE

Copy of a letter sent to cabinet member for transport, Janet Blake

I am not somebody who usually writes emails of complaint. However, I found your comments on the traffic chaos, as quoted in the Bucks Herald last week, so outrageous that I felt I had to respond.

I live just off the Tring Road, and my partner and I each have to make our separate ways to our workplaces on the other side of the town daily.

We suffered 6 months of works on the Adams roundabout while it was being converted to traffic lights, in the expectation that it would be “substantially better”, only to see the queues grow longer in each direction since they were commissioned, and while the phasing has been tinkered with, whilst traffic has built up on all other local roads in an effort to avoid using the junction.

(This was the case even before the reduction of flow caused by the work on the Bedgrove roundabout, and the queues in the morning going out of town, which have frequently tailed back as far as the gates to Victoria Park on the High Street.)

I agree that for you to admit to setting out deliberately to create chaos and “thwart everyone with traffic congestion …. would be a stupid thing to say”.

However, even to admit that Arla have spent all the money it has cost them to replace the roundabout with traffic lights, without making it “any better than it was” seems to me to be an admission of such breath-taking stupidity as to defy belief that it came from the mouth of the cabinet minister for transport in Bucks.

If the junction was not anticipated to be “substantially better”, what was the point of spending the money on it, and causing the hours of wasted driver time and increased air pollution for residents caused by queuing traffic, week after week during the conversion, and on an ongoing basis?

I was equally baffled by the assertion that “they (Arla) were not going to design anything that was substantially better”. Surely the design of the junction was not Arla’s responsibility?

This must have been designed by ‘experts’ – not by the milk production company, who presumably just provided the funding. If it was never going to be “substantially better”, why was it undertaken at all?

There seems to be a lack of any ‘joined up thinking’ with regard to traffic planning as a whole in Aylesbury – during the 27 years I have lived in the town, traffic congestion has increased exponentially, and efforts to deal with it have been piecemeal and in some cases counter-productive.

Take for example the removal of the ‘central reservation’ for pedestrians on Exchange Street, in favour of a gauntlet of three separate pedestrian crossings which drivers have to run in order to travel from one end to the other.

These are un-phased, and cause repeated stops and starts for motorists. Yes, pedestrians must have safe crossing places, but not at the cost of stopping-and-starting traffic and resultant driver frustration, which is likely to increase bad driving and risk taking. That was not well planned.

The next move appears to be to close off the link from Stoke Road to Walton Road and the Wendover Road on the gyratory system, which will force traffic to divert all the way down to the Exchange Street roundabout and back up again to reach the junction.

This will not only increase journey times, mileage and fuel consumption but will add to the already substantial queues coming up Walton Street to the traffic lights, causing further pollution and driver frustration.

This seems quite unnecessary, and unlikely to cause any improvement in traffic flow in any direction at that junction. It also will not be “substantially better”. This is agreed on the back of planning permission for a housing development that will also permanently put paid to any hope of the ring road that Aylesbury so desperately needs, and one wonders just who on the Council pushed this agreement through and exactly what their motivation was.

Aylesbury is a desperate bottleneck for vehicles coming through from the M25 towards the M40 and vice versa, and the improvements to the A41 over the years have caused a huge increase in the volume of traffic passing through our town.

A proper ring road, well separated from housing and schools, is the only solution that will rescue residents from the queuing traffic, and consequent air pollution, that prevents us from moving freely around and between our places of work and recreation.

It is the duty of the cabinet member for transport to seek, and be outspoken in support of, real and effective solutions to this awful situation, in the interests of residents and road users alike.

That is your job – not to be complicit with this hotchpot of ill thought out, and ineffective piecemeal projects, which by your own admission will not produce anything “substantially better” in the long term.

I have no great confidence that this complaint will be treated seriously, given that the cabinet member for transport lives in Great Brickhill, and, I discover, our local councillor in Granborough, well away from the problems we experience every time we leave the house here.

The length of queuing traffic on every road leading into Aylesbury in the mornings, and clogging every exit from the town in the evenings should be a source of shame to council and cabinet alike however, and deserving

of urgent and co-ordinated action.

I fully support Raj Khan in his comments to you, and can only hope that I will not be the only person moved to write and share their dismay and frustration at the lack of any properly thought out solution to the problem of traffic congestion in Aylesbury.

Mary Taylor

Tring Road, Aylesbury

GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER

In last week’s Bucks Herald a reader (‘Name and address supplied’) responded to my letter in the previous week’s issue about The Guardian’s publication of the classified documents released by Edward Snowden, and the issue of effective control of national security services in democratic societies. Either this reader did not read my original letter carefully, or he/she cannot differentiate between evidence and assertion. The assertions of the heads of MI6 and GCHQ that the Snowden revelations have endangered ‘our brave spies’ do not constitute evidence of actual harm. As Mandy Rice Davies said in court during the Profumo Affair, ‘they would say that, wouldn’t they ?’. As a former senior civil servant whose work was governed by the Official Secrets Act, I am no longer confident that department heads are motivated primarily by the public good, rather than their own departmental interests.

My point is that the activities of the security services must be accountable, operating within a legal framework, with the active, informed consent of the society they serve. The notion that we can leave them to decide for themselves what they do is naive and threatens our hard-won civil liberties. We already have the mechanisms for parliamentary scrutiny of the secret services, but it has become very clear that both the UK government and Congress have deliberately been kept in the dark about the extent of surveillance using newly available monitoring technologies. There has been a fierce reaction from our friends and allies around the world to the revelation that their leaders’ communications have been hacked. How can this be in our national interest ? How can it be acceptable for the National Security Agency in the USA to force Google, Apple, Microsoft and Yahoo to release all their clients’ civil and commercial communications to their scrutiny, and for the NSA to commission GCHQ to undertake this surveillance, believing (accurately) that the UK’s inspection regime is weaker ?

Your correspondent’s position is that we should trust the secret services on both sides of the Atlantic to work on our behalf in finding the bad guys to protect ‘innocent people’. This really is not good enough. I lived and worked in a Northern mining area during the 1984 Miners’ Strike, when Margaret Thatcher’s government persecuted and harassed mining communities in a way that was deeply shocking to me as a staunch democrat, using the police and the secret services to undermine the miners’ leaders and to foment dissent. The release of formerly secret papers under the 30 Year Rule is only now revealing the extent of this duplicity, which many of us suspected at the time but could not prove. (For those of you Southerners whose lives were not touched by this episode I can recommend Marching To The Front Line by Francis Beckett and David Hencke.) Without effective democratic scrutiny, government agencies are free to trawl private communications and to spread black propaganda in pursuance of certain politicians’ ideologies.

Name and address supplied

NOT ROBBING PETER

I’d like to respond to the letter from D Moulding in last week’s Bucks Herald, ‘Rob Peter to pay Paul’.

I understand that some people might not like public sector organisations paying each other for services because they see all taxpayers’ money as being in one pot but realistically, this just is not the case. The system every public sector organisation operates in (be it right or wrong) is one of separate budgets and it is our job to get the best value out of our budget for AVDC residents.

As I wrote in my column, this now means working much more commercially to generate income which is reinvested back into services. D Moulding, and I’m sure others, was unhappy with the fact the NHS rents desks from us but they only do this because it makes total business sense to their budget.

I don’t know the exact thinking behind the NHS decision but the alternative may have been for their employees to travel further to another office which may not have been efficient or cost effective on their part – not a good use of taxpayers’ money.

We’ve also been criticised for hiring out The Gateway. The fact is that more than half of the organisations hiring our facilities this year have been from the private sector. Gone are the days when companies had a limitless budget to make jollies out of training days.

They want value for money and that is what The Gateway offers. This commercial success has generated us £98,000 which, again, is being reinvested into services for residents.

The example of our tree officers generating £10,000 from work for other councils was also raised. This is an example of partnership work and there’s lots of it going on at councils across the country.

Again, this move is an example of becoming more efficient and commercial in response to the swathing government cuts.

If there isn’t enough work in every area for every council to have tree officers (and I’m just using this as an example, it could be applied across other services), then surely it makes sense to work for each other.

The fact is that the council undertaking that work cannot do it for free: it needs to receive payment to sustain the post (given the rapid and many may argue necessary disappearance of government subsidy) and the council making the payment is saving taxpayers’ money because it’s not paying a whole salary for a post that is really only part-time.

Obviously, the loss of jobs is not a good thing but councils must become more efficient and cannot keep posts that are not justified. In many cases, people haven’t lost jobs but they’ve been redeployed, where others have not been replaced.

Sometimes it’s not about losing posts at all but about one authority having a temporary excess of work and another having the capacity to fill it. It’s being called efficient.

So, we’re not robbing Peter to pay Paul, it’s about us trying to operate commercially in the capitalist world in which we live. And whether we like that or not, we have no choice if we’re to continue providing value for money to the residents of Aylesbury Vale.

Neil Blake

Leader of AVDC

PROBLEM CYCLE ROUTES

I was interested to read in last week’s BH that Janet Blake, BCC cabinet member for transport was aware of “problem pavements”. I wonder if she is also aware of problem cycle routes.

In recent years millions of pounds have been spent creating a series of cycle routes in Aylesbury called Gemstone routes.

Many of these are footways converted to dual use paths without there being any real improvement for cyclists use.

My local cycling group Get Wendover Cycling have been trying to get improvements to the surface of Gemstone route Amber Way that runs between Wendover and Aylesbury but without success.

Last year a site inspection by a BCC local area technician in conjunction with two of our members identified problem areas that needed attention.

It was noted that three areas on the path had already been identified for repair at an earlier date by white paint now much faded.

At that time we were told there was no specific budget for cycle route maintenance and it is understood this situation has not changed. Currently there is some capital funding to extend the existing network but that this new money cannot be used for repair and maintenance.

Whilst it is good news that there is some funding for development there will be little chance of getting potential users such as motorists doing short journeys out of their cars and onto the cycle routes unless money is allocated for maintenance and repair.

The experience of using the routes needs to be noticably improved.

Brian Bostock

Get Wendover Cycling

 

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