Neighbourhood plans and the Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust feature in this week’s letters round-up.
PLEASE GET A GRIP
Cast your mind back a few years, to a time when the new Conservative government was promising such things as ‘localism’ and ‘bottom-up’ government.
The thought that people would be given power to control things in their locality was both popular and a vote winner.
Neighbourhood Plans were proposed as a real example of how town and parish councils could take control of planning in their localities.
Am I now misunderstanding the situation or is it the case that the Government is about to throw a right hook at local aspirations by imposing impossible five year housing supply figures, whilst AVDC has in mind a simultaneous left hook by refusing to support either emerging or fully made Neighbourhood Plans.
Either way, local communities in Aylesbury Vale are about to suffer a knockout blow as unplanned planning applications are likely to sail through this week’s planning committee.
Buckingham and Great Horwood are the immediate losers, but every community in the Vale is in danger of being picked for attention from developers.
The government and the Aylesbury Vale Conservative administration need to get a grip and honour the promises that have been made to our communities.
Neighbourhood Plans are a great idea and must get full support from all concerned.
Independent district councillor for Wingrave ward
From time to time the Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust likes to put certain people on the naughty step for a session of self-righteous finger wagging.
In the past the targets have been the better off, the well-educated and those who dare to prefer their locality to stay just the way it is.
As a result of this exercise, there may be those who feel that they are somehow limiting the flow of affordable housing.
If so, I suggest they take a trip to Edgcott – just off the A41.
Look for the village hall and there you will find a row of derelict garages, once owned by the district council.
In January 2013, the VAHT evicted the remaining tenants of these garages.
They gave a week’s notice though the snow lay thick on the ground and it was bitterly cold.
The reason for the haste was obvious when three months later they applied for planning permission to build a three bedroom detached house on the site.
The plan was rejected by the council.
A group of local residents saw this as an opportunity to improve the community facility offered by the hall by adding an off-road car park and children’s play area – perhaps acquiring the plot under the Localism Act.
To this end, 105 Edgcott people signed a petition in support.
Not to be.
VAHT appealed the rejection and the appeal was allowed.
I lived in Edgcott for 30 years, in fact I was a parish councillor at the time of the evictions, until I left late last year to live in Wales.
So, on a return visit recently I was keen to see what had been done with the site and how the new people were settling in.
It’s been two years and nine months from the hasty evictions and the house hasn’t even been started – the decaying garages sitting there as a testament to the true philosophy of an organisation that is not accountable to the tax payers who subsidise it or the communities it affects.
Not to mention the loss of rental income.
That the Housing Trust, slogan, “Homes for living, communities for life,” can be allowed to treat any community like this is beyond me.
Interestingly, the VAHT website home page suggests renting a garage for storage – potential takers may wonder about security of tenure.
RUN FOR HOSPICE
With just over six months to go until the London Marathon, we’re recruiting runners for our Rennie Grove team!
Get in touch before October 1 to apply for one of our Golden Bond places.
You’ll need to pledge to raise £2,000 – but we’ll support you with fundraising ideas and promotional material if your application is successful.
If you are fortunate enough to secure your own place, why not join our team of runners to help fund our unique 24/7 responsive care in patients’ homes?
All our team members receive the same support: training tips, fundraising ideas, nutrition advice, weekly email contact, team meet-ups and a pre-race pasta party!
Make your London Marathon not just a major personal achievement but also a way to help local families affected by life-limiting illness.
Call us today on 01442 820720.
Director of fundraising & marketing, Rennie Grove Hospice Care
WHY THE SECRECY?
The EU-US trade deal known as TTIP (The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is a danger to our health service.
The TTIP is drummed up in Brussels.
And in Brussels it is being negotiated behind closed doors.
In fact the EU has confirmed that all key documents relating to the agreement will remain closed to the public for 30 years.
But why all the secrecy?
Governments and big business are relying on lack of public awareness in order to rush through TTIP and seal the deal without too much resistance.
But what are they afraid of?
They know that there would be an outcry if people knew the real truth.
If TTIP goes ahead it will cost at least one million jobs.
It will pave the way for the introduction of GM foods into Europe.
It will irreversibly extend the privatisation of key public services such as the NHS and will give US corporations the power to sue the UK and other states for loss of any profits.
When will our governments introduce public policies designed to protect their citizens?
With the EU aiming to get the agreement signed by the end of 2015, it is crucial to halt this atrocious deal.
But the trouble is that not enough people know about it and all the negotiations are happening in secret.
As I understand it even our politicians know nothing about it and it is time that they found out and told us all about TTIP and what parliament is doing about it, as this will put at risk our jobs and will cost the taxpayer a lot of money in the long run.
A crisis is looming in our hospitals, our care homes and our community nursing services which must be averted now.
Nurses recruited after 2011 from outside Europe will be removed from the UK after they have spent six years here, simply because they are not earning at least £35,000 because of this Government’s changes to immigration rules.
This new rule makes no sense in a profession such as nursing where few can hope to achieve such a wage.
Across the South East hundreds of nursing staff could be affected, in turn damaging services and compromising the safety of patients.
We are in the middle of a severe nursing shortage in the South East and our nurses that have been recruited from abroad are essential to us being able to continue to provide care to patients.
They were recruited at a cost of thousands of pounds to the NHS, and are filling gaps in our workforce that we cannot fill ourselves due to previous cuts that were made to nurse training places.
These nurses have come to our region to care for us, our families, our friends.
We need to keep them as without their help, our services could grind to a halt.
Therefore the Royal College of Nursing is calling for the Government to act now to address this anomaly by ensuring nurses are among the professions exempt from this rule.
We also want an increase in nurse training places so that we are less reliant on other countries.
Chair of Royal College of Nursing South East regional Board and RCN Council member
I am writing to ask your readers to get their aprons on and their mixing bowls and teapots at the ready to bake a difference for people with epilepsy.
National Tea and Cake Break on Friday, October 16.
The event raises money for national charity Epilepsy Action.
The charity supports the 600,000 people living with epilepsy in the UK.
National Tea and Cake Break brings bakers and brew-lovers together all over the country.
There are all sorts of ways to get involved, from a cup of tea and a cupcake in your kitchen, to an office tea party or school bake sale.
You could even host your own bake-off and judge your friends’ creations.
Everyone who registers to hold a National Tea and Cake Break will receive a free pack bursting with hints, tips and tools to get their event off to a sweet start.
To register for a free tea break fundraising pack, visit epilepsy.org.uk/teabreak or call the fundraising events team on 0113 210 8824.
For more information and support about epilepsy, readers can call our freephone helpline on 0808 800 5050.
Fundraising events officer, Epilepsy Action
HELP IS OUT THERE
I know only too well that when you have breast cancer, everything changes.
Even the things written on your calendar; birthdays, holidays and yoga classes might have mastectomy, MRI scan or lymph node removal scribbled next to them.
Time becomes measured in appointments.
The next scan.
The next results.
The next challenge.
My sister Lynn was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002.
She noticed a large lump in her breast while filming in Australia.
I know her first thought was: ‘How could that have gotten there without my noticing it?’
Her treatment was tough; chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.
I stayed with her.
I saw the day her hair fell out.
I saw her mastectomy scars.
Sadly the breast cancer came back and spread.
We lost Lynn five years ago.
Every year 55,000 are diagnosed with this brutal disease in the UK.
All of these people need care, support and information – which is why Breast Cancer Care’s work is so vital.
I want your readers to pass this on to anyone affected by breast cancer: from day one Breast Cancer Care will be there for you.
They understand the emotions, challenges and decisions you face every day.
Call their nurses free on 0808 800 6000 or visit breastcancercare.org.uk
Breast Cancer Care