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Bus station plans
I was interested to read the proposal to move the bus station in Aylesbury from under Friars Square shopping Centre to a site beside the Morrison’s car park and Railway Station. This idea is certainly not new but has, I suggest, been put forward by town planners rather that transport users.
Yes, the current bus station has its failings. It is cramped, passengers have quite close contact with buses when entering and leaving BUT it is under cover, warm(ish) in winter and there are alternative lifts that give direct access to the shops above. There are also seats in the waiting area, convenient conveniences (for drivers and passengers), plus a very useful snack bar that seems to be open much of the time.
The proposed “interchange” will indeed be “ a couple of hundred metres away” across the other side of a busy dual carriageway. Although talk of “connectivity improvements” I cannot actually envisage these across a junction that has already been allegedly “traffic calmed” but to many is seen as positively dangerous. Interchange users will be faced with the much longer walk to town along the dreary and drafty Great Western Street where often many of the roof mounted lights appear to have failed making quite dark areas at night. Each week the Herald reports traders complaining of reductions in footfall and I cannot see that making people walk further will in any way reverse that trend.
As for the interchange itself this will of course more than likely be in the open air, with some form of pedestrian route between rows of bus bays with possibly just a shelter at each stopping point. I may be wrong but I cannot envisage (even a developer, let alone the Council) paying for an airport style terminal building with full facilities, air conditioning and sliding doors that only open when the bus pulls into your bay. The snack bar and toilets will undoubtedly still be in the rail station where they are now (and the other side of the automatic ticket barriers).
To sample how not to do it, then go to Luton where a large new “interchange” was built about two years ago next to the rail station. There are numerous open air bus stops spread over quite a big, very exposed area and the toilet facilities are inside a Costa coffee shop (originally designed as a travel centre!) - when open. As it is nowhere close to the town centre and shops there are few passengers actually using it and a number of the local bus routes don’t even serve it!.
All this may still be some way into the future and may of course never happen. But I suggest that bus users should make the best of the current bus station as any move is unlikely to be an improvement.
John Wood - Wendover
With regard to NHayes letter about great maritime disasters the one resulting in the biggest loss of life was that of the Wilhelmina Gustloff sunk by a Russian submarine with 9400 people lost
Paul Davies - via email
For the last 14 years I have been working with local government, helping them to change and transform how they work. And some of my experience is helpful to understand the Bucks unitary bid.
It may seem obvious that by bringing together small councils, we will make great savings in all sorts of ways, and some of those might be realised as described in the consultants report. But what the consultants miss from their report is the real impact uniting councils has on the cost of delivering services and how the the council represents the public.
Despite what consultants write about, relying on computers and procedures is not what the council is really about - it is about finding what problems the public has, and dealing with them the best way. When I work in large councils, I find that there is a greater number of departments and supervisors - for the same service, as in smaller councils. This results in far less coherent working together. And it is in the working together that makes for an efficient and effective service. I find that large councils have very high work flow issues between departments, that make improving them very difficult.
Small councils, on the other hand, are far more effective and efficient at delivering services - staff can simply get up and talk to another colleague from another department. Often managers supervise several teams and that encourages joined up working. And those managers are closer to day to day problems.
I have researched the impact of unitary changes in other councils, and I have failed to find any evidence that it makes anything better. Especially as one of the stated efficiencies is by reducing the people who represent us locally. Large councils have a terrible reputation for a lack of responsiveness to local communities, and often feel like a large monolithic and unreachable organisation. And despite what AVDC is doing with Digital, evidence shows the answer to better and more efficent services is not in simply putting everything online - and thats a big factor in consultants believeing that a Bucks unitary will be better. It won’t.
John Mortimer, via email
Thanks to council
On behalf of the thousands of local people who will turn to Relate Mid Thames & Buckinghamshire (MTB) this year, and our team of professional relationship counsellors, I would like to publicly thank Aylesbury Vale District Council for supporting our Bursary Funding Scheme.
Relate MTB is a small, local charity and we rely on local donations and grants for all our funding. The continued support of the council enables us to meet the growing need for counselling regardless of people in need’s ability to pay. We serve disadvantaged and vulnerable people within the community, providing a high quality, reliable and confidential service for people who are feeling isolated and vulnerable. Although we request a fee from our clients who are in a position to pay, many are not and the balance of the cost of delivering skilled, expert counselling and support has to be met from our Bursary Funding Scheme.
We appreciate the demands on the council’s budget and we work hard to ensure that we fundraise from as many alternative sources as possible to continue making a difference to disadvantaged local people and families. Having the council’s support helps to show other funders how highly valued and needed our service is.
You will probably be surprised to hear the wide range of counselling Relate MTB provides, from families and members of the Armed Forces to people being treated for cancer. To find out more, including how you can support our local charity, please visit www.relatemtb.co.uk
Fiona Greenfield, Centre Director, Relate MTB
Disaster at sea
Further to my previous letter I have now found out which was the greatest martitime disaster in history. The German liner Wilhelm Gustloff left Germany on 31-1-45. It was crowded with refugees from Prussia when it was torpedoed by a Russian submarine. 7,000 people were lost. N Hayes - address supplied
As part of their Eastertide observance, members of local congregations in Haddenham met together on Good Friday March 30, under the banner of ‘Churches Together’, to participate in a public act of worship and a walk of witness through the village.
Beginning with prayers and hymns on Townend Green, the group -- led this year by Rev Margot Hodson on behalf of St Mary’s Church -- processed along Dollicott, through Fort End, Banks Road and down the southern half of Churchway, stopping at various locations to hear Easter readings and to offer prayers and hymns. A heavy timber cross was carried at the head of the procession, born for the first part by Ken Gilham; Charles Kelton stepped up for the second phase.
At St Mary’s Church, the group joined a larger congregation from the Methodist, Baptist, Catholic and Anglican churches for a service to mark Good Friday. Keith Milmer - Haddenham.net