Letters to the editor in this week’s Bucks Herald newspaper include:
It would seem that there is no end to the brilliance of our local “authority” as they not only have baffled wiser minds by installing traffic lights that cause and provoke congestion,pursue housing plans that are so deeply flawed that even a government inspector spotted the error but now it seems they have invented the self clearing drain.
The self clearing drain is quite unique. It requires and gets no maintenance and yet is expected to quietly work when required no matter how high the demand load.
Being a very simple person,I thought there was an obvious connection between blocked drains that aren’t cleared,mud caked road gullies showing obvious neglect and road flooding!
No,it seems I am wrong and the natural laws of both physics and logic apply everywhere except in Aylesbury Vale.
Was Shakespeare wrong when he suggested that “an unweeded garden grows to seed”! Neglect it seems is the prudent path to follow. If only I could run my household in like manner.
We have a wonderful local authority who have farmed out pot hole repairs, drain clearing and gulley sweeping but don’t it seems have the ability to send anyone out of their comfort zone to see if any of these tasks are being performed and to what standard.
It is such a huge relief to know that these same brilliant people who oversee all these services are the very people who are our champions in the fight against HS2...no end to their talent it seems so sleep well.
M G Lowry
FEAR FOR THE FUTURE
With reference to your front page article (BH 15th January, a former county engineer used to say ‘roads are like babies - all you need to keep their bottoms dry.’)
The Romans provide ditches each side of their roads to make sure that the ground water level was kept below the road formation.
For more than a century, modern highway engineers have been taught this basic rule.
Four years ago I wrote to the county chief executive to say the County was not being well served by the current arrangements for highway maintenance.
Long established principles of good practice were being disregarded.
That was before the consequences of years of neglect were being manifested in the profusion of potholes.
I have continued to make this point to a succession of cabinet members for transport.
You cannot assess the condition of a highway from the seat of a car.
It requires visual inspection on foot by properly qualified people, followed by tests to determine the structural strength of the road and the condition of its materials.
The bells started ringing last year when I was told that maintenance priorities were ‘member led’.
As our elected representatives have few qualifications in highway engineering I asked what criteria members used in reaching their decisions.
I have yet to receive a convincing answer.
At one time the County employed highway inspectors and (dare I say) ‘lengthsmen’, who knew every inch of the roads on their patch and where the problem areas were.
It is difficult now to find anyone in Transport for Buckinghamshire who admits in his job title to being a qualified engineer. Do any of them ever get their boots dirty?
The County has lost most of its in-house engineering skills and is at risk of being unable to act as an intelligent client.
It is no use having contracts unless someone dedicated to the public service knows what to specify and how to ensure that the requirements are fulfilled.
The public should know that the local highway network is the most valuable asset the County owns. If it fails , then the delivery of all other services is put at risk.
OJ Oliver B.Eng (Hons), MICE, FCIHT
Campion Close, Aylesbury
YOU WORK IT OUT
I wonder how many spotted the irony in the claim by Jo Hoskins (BH Letters 16th Jan) that councils fighting HS2 are wasting taxpayers’ money on follies for toffs!
For the 2011 consultation in the HP postcode area, only 4% supported HS2.
In MK18 (where Ms Hoskins lives) a mere 3% agreed with HS2. This is why councils are justified in spending a few pennies per council tax payer on trying to stop the project.
The alternative is a cost to every UK household of around £2,000 to build a deeply flawed vanity project driven by vested interests.
It’s also worth remembering that, as there is no station between London & Birmingham, even HS2 Ltd predicts there would only be dis-benefits for the Aylesbury Vale area, including a negative effect on the local economy.
With hardly any support locally and few economists or environmentalists backing HS2 nationally, I suggest Ms Hoskins complains about the Government misusing taxpayers’ money rather than criticising local councils for supporting their residents.
It’s also unfair to claim council tax is going up to pay to fight HS2. Westminster has cut council funding to retain more taxes for Central Government to spend on, er, … well you work it out…!
BETTER BY FAR
I refer to your item on the state of Bucks roads and your letters page.
Whilst Bucks roads are far from perfect, they are noticeably better than the average English highway.
Travel south into Herts On the Tring by-pass or east into Beds, and it is possible to tell from the road sound and the hammering of the suspension when you cross the border.
Only in Oxon and then on the main roads are the road surfaces comparable.
In the last 12 months I have travelled nearly all over England by car (with the exception of the NW, SW and Kent) and, excluding Olympic sites, and, in my opinion, Bucks main roads stand up well in comparison.
Unfortunately, privatisation of local authorities has resulted in the need for crystal-ball-gazing for months in advance in contracts losing the flexibility of earlier days and local superintendents who took a pride in their area no longer
Chairman Aylesbury Society
I read with some incredulity Councillor Carole Paternoster’s assurances that nobody is to blame in AVDC for the abject failure of the district council to develop a robust and sound Local Plan.
The rearguard defence argument appears to be that it’s all the Government’s fault and that AVDC’s localism approach in arriving at the VAP’s housing target was not understood.
It seems to me that AVDC requires a bulk delivery of reality pills.
The reality is that AVDC has made it very clear to communities considering developing a Neighbourhood Plan, an initiative resulting from the Localism Act, that they have to recognise this is not a license for Nimbyism and low housing growth.
Since the National Planning Policy Framework was published in March 2012, which contained the very clear message that all development plans must embrace robust, realistic and sustainable housing growth, what was required of the VAP was abundantly clear.
Yet, illogically, the Vale of Aylesbury Plan’s housing target was, to anyone viewing the situation objectively, ignoring the clear steer of the NPPF to embrace realistic housing growth to the level demanded.
The excuse offered is that AVDC followed ‘public opinion’ but if that results in an unsound housing growth figure then our District Council obviously had the responsibility to determine a sound level of housing growth.
How can AVDC preach a sound approach for communities developing Neighbourhood Plans regarding housing numbers, yet for its own Local Plan for the District do the opposite?
AVDC had a clear responsibility to produce a sound plan and did not do so.
This will result in 2 to 3 years of developer-led housing growth when some of our communities will be lumbered with unsuitable housing developments that an adopted Local Plan would have prevented.
This failing has to be laid fairly and squarely at AVDC’s door.
One must do more than tick boxes Cllr Paternoster and do what other Councils did whose Local Plans also failed.
It was the politicians who reduced the additional housing figure from 9,000 to 6,000 was it not, so how can Cllr Paternoster claim “the politicians have not done anything wrong?”
It is time for those in AVDC responsible for this debacle to cease being in denial and admit their failings – honesty is the best policy!
Roy van de Poll
Langley Close, Winslow
Thank you for printing my letter on the letters page of the Bucks Herald about the search track down trainee nurses who used to work at St George’s Hospital at Hyde Park Corne.
I am delighted to tell you that Sue Bevan has made contact with us as a result of your coverage and will be joining us at our reunion in May 1964.
We just have to find Liz Perkins nee Chandler and the May 1964 Set will be complete.
Christine Rola nee Belcher
PAY BY THE MILE
Copy of letter sent to David Lidington MP.
Following the Government announcement last week that local authorities and communities are to be “incentivised” to accept fracking in their areas, perhaps this new policy approach should be extended to other infrastructure projects in which local communities are to be asked to make sacrifices for the benefit of the country as a whole.
I am thinking, of course, of HS2 and the prospect of badly needed funds being generated for Aylesbury Vale District Council and Bucks County Council.
If we are to suffer the consequences of having the high speed line run through our area, local residents should have the satisfaction of knowing that a substantial contribution is being made towards local services.
I understand that £100,000 is to be offered for each shale gas well-head plus 1% of profits.
I’m sure someone will be able to do the maths more thoroughly than I’m able to, but if we’re able to charge HS2 Ltd. £100,000 per kilometre during construction and then 1% of revenues, this should make a very handsome contribution towards the County’s coffers.
I’d be grateful if you could take this matter up with the Chancellor. I look forward to learning of his response. Thank you.
NOT WHAT IT SEEMS
I am currently in my last year of sixth form studying for A Levels and planning on taking a year off.
Due to my desire to want to spend my gap year wisely gaining as much experience as possible, I have extensively researched into apprenticeships locally, yet have found nothing relevant at all.
Therefore, after reading in last week’s paper about the increasing number of young people in Aylesbury getting apprenticeships, I got quite frustrated.
In general, apprenticeships are limited to along the lines of accounting and finance careers, so with my aspirations of journalism, I am already limited.
Yet possibilities for gap year work are very hard to find, with the ones available either extending for over a year or simply not being accessible to an 18 year old student due to the expectation of voluntary work.
If David Lidington is so delighted with all of the apprenticeships apparently available to young people, I would like for him to actually see a list of the ones available, or even better try to find them, and see if he is still delighted, and whether he deems them acceptable to the majority of young people, or if they are simply for those who have a free two years, don’t need to be paid for their time, and have a large interest in accounting.
Becca Harty Address supplied