Letters to the editor in this week’s Bucks Herald newspaper include:
I am writing regarding your front page article Wednesday 14th May, concerning the image tweeted by Aylesbury Grammar School headteacher Mr Lehec.
I find it disappointing that, despite your sympathetic editorial, you allowed a scandal-whipping headline to be emblazoned across the front page under the subheading ‘controversy’.
It is a common tactic in the media to cause great outcry over a matter while simultaneously bemoaning the media attention it is getting - I would expect this from national tabloids who owe a duty only to their parent corporation’s coffers, but not from a local newspaper serving a community.
Having read your editorial on the subject of the AGS leavers day “blacking up” fracas, I felt I had to contribute a few words to the debate.
I write as a parent of a son who has been with AGS and the headmaster, Steve Lehec, for seven years, and who was present at the leavers’ event.
Steve Lehec has been an outstanding headmaster for AGS; his leadership and personal style have set a relaxed and respectful tone in the school, the students are confident and caring, the staff are committed and the academic record has been excellent.
Whenever he speaks in public it has been with authority, candour and humour. In private he is thoughtful, perceptive and self deprecating.
In my experience the boys at AGS admire him for his assured navigation of the course between the perils of over and under authoritarianism. In short, it’s a great school due in no small part to its head.
In our close and happy association with the school I can think of no other environment where the culture of respect and inclusion is so strongly embedded.
The headmaster has always been open to lively debate and encouraged the students to think for themselves for sure, but my son (and his peer group) has gone through his teenage years despising the BNP, deriding the English Defence League and mocking the occasional Daily-Mail-esque utterances of his father.
So, when it comes to a leavers event where these young men are encouraged to let their hair down just a little, there would be no room for casual racism at AGS.
“Blacking Up” to look like the Cool Running crew is a joke, an opportunity for these young men to make themselves look ridiculous, not an attempt to derogate one race above another. If it were, the lads at AGS would be the first to slap it down.
Diversity and Inclusion orthodoxy tells us that the affront is in the eye of the beholder, not the transmitter.
So it is self evidently true that whoever complained is owed an apology for their distress and perhaps it is also true that social media is a sure way to get more beholders, but this is one head, one school, one great set of lads who don’t do racism.
ACT OF RESPECT
Copy of letter sent to Aylesbury Grammar School headteacher Stephen Lehec.
May I offer my support to you over the complaints reported in the recent Bucks Herald article about the year 13 last day.
The boys portraying the Cool Runnings team were doing so because it was one of the favourite films, and so held the Jamaica bobsleigh team in respect, and not at all were they starting some anti-black rally with a parody.
PC has gone mad, and it’s the ignorant and unthinking that have attacked this end of year’s constructive fun.
It is ridiculous and upsetting that you have had to pander to these malicious and foolish people with a very public apology.
It would be very disappointing if a pupil, school staff member or parent were behind the complaint. The complainants should be named.
It is almost as if anyone white can’t mention or notice that a person is black. Racism only occurs if someone acts discriminatingly against a black person.
Those who cry racism (either out of concern or to get a rise out of it) are wrong unless their actions are entirely intended to defend, and this criticism was an attack on you.
Why are they wrong? There is nothing wrong with being black! Black is good!
Those who leap unthinkingly in with cries of racism do so because they think the other race inferior and needs protection - but black people are fine thinkers, great athletes, artists and musicians and, because so many have grown up bullied, much nicer people than whites and they are welcome, and provide the best of many aspects in our society.
It is the accusation of racism itself that pits other races as inferior, and they are not.
I celebrate black people and enjoyed every minute of being able to work in sub Saharan African investment in the three years I did.
It is unthinking, knee-jerk PC that should now be the undesired, crazy element of society.
I trust and expect that both AGS and Kingston Grammar School have commiserated on your side in the same way.
To be fair, the Bucks Herald editorial in the centre said the same.
But the editorial was not referred to on the front page, only at the end of the article, finished on page 5.
And if a future AGS year 13 decides that Shaft is his favourite movie, let no-one stop him celebrating that in costume.
All the best to you.
Is it your habit to publish front page stories on the basis of two Twitter complainants?
Although your reporter chose not to disclose this rather salient fact in the Bucks Herald, the national press has provided more detail.
And it appears that the two people (a mother and son) are from London, and the mother is a union representative. There is plenty of information about her on the Internet.
In the Bucks Herald report it stated that you received further complaints into your office. I think we should be told how many you received.
With these facts now laid bare, I hope to see the Bucks Herald publish a fulsome apology.
To date your website (www.bucksherald.co.uk)has received 50 comments on this story, almost all in favour of AGS and criticising the actions of your paper.
Do you dare to publish them all in the paper?
If two Twitter complaints can justify a front page headline, then surely more than 50 (including the emails, letters, telephone calls and personal complaints you must have received) must warrant having the entire paper turned over to an apology.
You created a story from nothing, and it would be disingenuous to argue that fact just because the national newspapers followed it up.
The national ‘newsworthiness’ only came about as a result of your reporter, excited by the intolerance of two London based Twitter users, extracting a regretful statement from the beleaguered head.
I do feel very sorry for the boys concerned, who must be so confused by the ridiculous misinterpretation of their actions.
It would be illuminating to hear how the decision was reached to put this story onto your front page, exactly who was involved in this decision and what their own personal prejudices are.
Somehow I feel we never will be told the full extent of how and why this story came to be published.
Name and address supplied
I would just like to say how much my wife and I are enjoying the weekly articles in the Bucks Herald about Friars club.
Along with the great pictures, they bring back so many happy memories, as we were both great Friars fans.
We recently visited the Friars exhibition, currently on at the Buckinghamshire County Museum, and were completely blown away by the fantastic array of posters, photographs, instruments and costumes all so evocative of the time.
The David Bowie and Lol Coxhill displays were particularly moving and we loved the filmed interviews with Friars members.
We hope to make several more visits before the exhibition closes.
We were incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to see so many wonderful bands play in this humble market town, and it’s great that your newspaper is keen to recognise that fact.
Hooray a mower appeared on Hartwell Estate but looking at the result I do not see why he bothered,half the grass was missed and the grass cut looked as though it had been torn out of the ground.
The councillor in charge of arranging said grass cutting needs to visit his contractors work and discuss it with the taxpayers and apologise for the cock up.
More and more people are cutting the grass outside their houses in desperation of seeing a job well done.
Aylesbury requires a council that gives value for money,forget cabinets just get on and do what we elected you for.
We are grateful to the Bucks Herald for reporting last week on how The Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital supplied Headway Aylesbury Vale with a free temporary home in our hour of need.
We owe a great debt of thanks to the hospital which came to our rescue when we had to move from our previous home at the end of last year before we had finalised the lease at our new centre.
We are delighted to stress that the move to a purpose-built centre in Wedgewood Street, Fairford Leys, Aylesbury, is going ahead within the month – and that the future is very bright indeed for our clients.
For those who don’t know, Headway offers a range of services to people who have suffered an enduring injury to their brain through an accident, illness, a tumour or a stroke.
Most people don’t realise that there may be up to 1,500 Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) survivors in Aylesbury Vale.
These are people and their carers who are in urgent need of the type of support which we provide.
Our previous centre served 22 people and was open for two days a week but our new one has the potential to open for up to seven days a week, and allows us to offer a broader range of services. So I hope you can see why we are excited.
Our staff and volunteers have put a huge effort into the relocation and we’re proud of how far we have come, but we still need the help of the public in supporting and funding us.
In the coming months, we’ll be running a number of events to highlight what we do for the community, and we hope people will support us.
We believe the people of Aylesbury Vale really need the services of a vibrant local charity to help ABI survivors and their carers. But, equally, Headway Aylesbury Vale is in urgent need of the support of that same public.
We aim to help you – but in return, we hope you can help us to help our clients go from strength to strength.
Chairman of Trustees, Headway, Aylesbury Vale
For many years the various senior managements have tried to put non spinal patients into the
National Spinal Injuries Centre (NSIC). When the Aylesbury Vale Community Health Council was around they constantly asked why the ‘bed blockers’ were in the NSIC. Since the protection of this happening has gone, the management have continually chipped away at the unit. It should be remembered that the NSIC building and some of the equipment was fully paid for by public monies specifically for spinal patients.
Now there can be between 6 and 12 non spinal patients in the NSIC taking the spaces of strategically placed beds that can be seen from the nurses’ station. This means spinal patients who have had an operation have to go into the side wards where they cannot be seen. To make things worse there is no Consultant in Spinal Injuries and Rehabilitations to represent the unit. Instead Mr. Henderson, Orthopaedic Consultant, with some spinal experience, is the representative. This obviously is a conflict of interests.
In 2012 the management said they were temporarily stopping the library but it would be reinstated early 2013. This statement was given to the Bucks Herald. The library was important to the NSIC as the volunteers were a link to the outside world for long stay patients. What has not been told is the library has been cancelled for ever. None of the volunteers have even been officially told this. I understand that the reason given by the Trust for stopping the library is due to the cost of expenses the volunteers charge. The library volunteers have rarely, if any, put in any expense claims.
As part of taking over the NSIC, the dining room was renamed Café@WRVS. This, said the management, was to bring the unit in line with the rest of the hospital. Some spinal patients did want
a more fitting name used e.g. Poppa’s.
Over a great many years staff retention and moral has been a constant worry. At present 2 to 3 staff
leave every month due to lack of appreciation by the management. Staff cannot speak out about this due to intimidation. This has been going on since Stoke became a Trust 35 years ago. My information has come from patients.
Unlike the times of Sir Ludwig Guttmann, few staff stay long and become nurses in spinal injuries. I realise times have changed but not the way in which staff are treated and unappreciated by senior management.
If the present trends continue it will not be known as the NSIC Spinal Unit but a Unit with some spinal beds.
I thought you may like to hear about tesco and kia’s master plan to anger almost every parent with a child under 5 this morning. Kia set up a ‘car show room’ with their wonderful ‘family’ cars, right across the parent and toddler bays on a busy Saturday morning.
I complained to the duty manager and she told me a lot of people have complained but she didn’t feel comfortable asking them to move.
Disgraceful and completely unnecessary as Kia have a proper show room in aylesbury!!!
TAXI DRIVERS: SHOW SOME RESPECT
What a disappointment, with the launch of the Love Your Market fortnight, and the positive things that have happened since, the new stalls look great, the events well attended, and a good atmosphere as always, but it would be very pleasing if the town could have the support of the Taxi Industry.
There is a lot of activity planned over the next couple of weeks, including John Bly (Antiques Road Show), Del Boy and Rodney and much more.
On Saturday I stood in the Market Square and watched as taxis drove through without any regard to the many people that were enjoying the good weather and soaking up the occasion.
The crossing through to Hale Leys was particularly busy, but that did not matter to the taxi drivers, they just bullied their way through.
I accept the fact the rising bollards should be in place, (there is a technical problem) but there are signs all over the place stating the no go area for vehicles. Our taxi friends totally ignore this.
This reinforces our resolve to pedestrianise the whole of the town centre to eradicate this Anti Social Behaviour, after all people should be able to enjoy themselves without this threat.
I ask one question of the taxi drivers; when will you respect what we are trying to do and that is make the town safer and user friendly and to take away the need for people to be constantly looking over their shoulder in case a taxi driver, so intent on saving a couple of minutes, will threaten anybody who gets in their way.
I await your response
Cabinet Member for Civic Amenities
Aylesbury Vale District Council