Letters to the Editor

Quill and Ink Bottle

The Editor welcomes correspondence on any topic which has been in Wendover News or may be of interest to its readers.  Please write to us at Florence Nightingale Hospice Shop, First Floor, 19 High Street, Wendover HP22 6DX or email us at the usual address: editor@wendovernews.co.uk or telephone 01296 624270 or speak to us in the town.  Letters may be edited and may or may not be published at the Editor's discretion.

We'd love to hear from you.

Response to HS2 letter of 25 February 2018

David Lidington, Westminster  |  Submitted: Mar 2nd 2018
Dear Mr Smith,

Thank you for your email regarding HS2.

As I have consistently said over the last 8 years since the scheme was announced, I have enormous concerns about the project. I have profound doubts not only about its environmental impact, but also about the business case behind it. I fought as hard as I possibly could within the Government to present the case against HS2 and I also made sure that every argument put by my constituents was presented forcefully to the Prime Ministers, Transport Ministers and others, as well as in evidence which I gave to the Select Committees in both Houses of Parliament.

However, despite my personal feelings, HS2 is supported by the great majority of Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and SNP MPs and Peers. I know also from meetings with local councillors, businesses and trade union representatives that there is strong support for HS2 in cities like Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.

I have supported plans for a Mined or Extended tunnel past Wendover since they were initially announced and have made direct representations both to the Prime Minister and the Transport Secretary in support of these proposals. As you may know, members of the Wendover Society and Wendover Parish Council recently met Sir John Randall, the Prime Minister’s Environmental Advisor, to make the case for the Mined Tunnel. I have recommended to him that he seriously consider the proposals, including the detailed engineering work that has been commissioned on these proposals and the potential cost savings that they represent.

I will continue to support the case that my constituents are making for the Mined Tunnel plan, as well as continuing to represent the interests of individual constituents and local communities with the impacts of HS2 throughout the next phases of the project as it moves on into design and construction. If you have any further questions about HS2 or any other matters, please do not hesitate to get in touch again.

Yours sincerely,

David Lidington
Member of Parliament for Aylesbury

Letter to David Lidington regarding HS2

Dale Smith, Wendover  |  Submitted: Feb 25th 2018
Dear Mr Lidington,

First of all I’d like to offer my belated congratulations on your appointment as Minister for the Cabinet Office.

It was a beautiful day today and I walked with my wife up to the end of Hogtrough Lane and took in the view across the valley. We pondered how awful it will be when this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is defiled by the elevated section of HS2 with trains thundering past 36 times each hour.

I realise that the government considers policy on HS2 to be settled but for me it is important to ask you to consider this once again before the AONB is irrevocably harmed. Clearly it would require political courage for policy to be reversed but it would be the right thing to do.

As you know there has never been a respectable business case for this very high speed train. If it is supposed to be for transporting people, who will be able to afford the premium fares that will be charged? Increasingly people use Skype and video conferencing to communicate remotely. Investment in superfast broadband would be better for the economy. If the plan is to move freight, is there really a need for moving it at 250mph? And won’t lorries be needed anyway to move it around the country?

Surely the government has other calls on upwards of £60 billion of capital investment (which will no doubt end up nearer £100bn) to invest in a range of other priorities such as:
• Transport infrastructure that needs replacing or improving such as around London where points and signalling often create problems for commuters and in poor performing areas such as southern rail.
• Train links where they are actually needed – joining up the northern cities and trans-Pennine links. Also in the north, investing in roads like the stretch of the A1 in Northumberland that is only one lane each way?
• Power generation capacity? Energy security? Power stations are to close and electric powered cars will need to replace many of the diesel and petrol vehicles to be banned from 2040. And can’t the government make a priority of enabling development of the technology needed to exploit wave power using the seas around these islands with a view to British companies exporting the technology across the world?
• Housing: where are the affordable starter houses for sale or rent in this area? Something must be wrong with the way the market operates. How is it that Germany apparently has a viable affordable, long term rental market? In defiance of policy in recent decades is more public spending needed to achieve this?
• Assets to protect our nation – such as a viable navy. We don’t have enough warships to fulfil our commitments to patrol in the Gulf region when a type 45 destroyer breaks down. We risk being a laughing stock with aircraft carriers lacking battle groups to protect them, without which they are sitting ducks.
• Fishery protection vessels to safeguard our fisheries post-Brexit and vessels to patrol our coast line to prevent drug and people smuggling.

There must be many other urgent priorities that as a minister you are aware of. Like many today I’d welcome some good news from the government, preferably creating something with long lasting benefits for our country. HS2 is not the answer to anything.

Please, Mr Lidington, please take another look at HS2: just cancel it. Don’t throw good money after bad. This was a political wheeze from the Gordon Brown administration: even Peter Mandelson said so in an FT article. If it goes ahead, please fund a fully bored tunnel through the AONB but better still just use the money where it can help this nation meet real needs.

Can you please use your influence to challenge this egregious waste of public money and cancel the project?

I’m also sending this letter to the editor of the Wendover News.

Yours sincerely

Dale Smith

War Gen

Jill Pearce, Wendover  |  Submitted: Dec 7th 2017
I have recently offered to support an organisation called War Gen, whose goal is to record interviews with people who served in World War II. These interviews can be audio visual or just audio and aim to capture and share these valuable memories and keep them available into the future.

Further information can be found at www.wargen.org/about

I am based near Aylesbury and can travel to meet with people in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire, however there are other interviewers based in locations throughout the UK so we would always try to carry out an interview, whatever the location.

So, if you would like to share your memories, or know of someone else who would, please contact me via jill@brutonpearce.co.uk or 01296 624472.

Charging at Local Waste & Recycling Centres

M Watson, Weston Turville  |  Submitted: Jun 2nd 2017
Is it only me, or do other residents think that our esteemed county authority inhabits some strange parallel universe where those that do the right thing are continually found new obstructions and obstacles to continue whilst being held to ransom to pay for the misdeeds of others?

On this occasion, I’m thinking about the disposal and recycling of waste, which, try as we might to minimise, we all generate.

We all see, on a daily basis, roadside areas across the county being used as waste dumps. They’re easily marked out, they’re the ones with Area Under Surveillance signs ! (which appear to provide no discouragement at all)
I used to think these ‘facilities’ were only used by the lazy who, frankly, couldn’t be bothered to travel the little extra to the local civic amenity. Now I think they’re more likely to be those who are fed-up with the increasing number of barriers the authority puts in place to discourage residents from ‘doing the right thing’.

I highlight my own experience over the bank holiday weekend.

Like many folk I undertook some domestic hedge cutting, try as I might, I can’t find a way of stopping it growing. I dutifully cleared the cuttings into my trailer (of regulation size !) to dispose of at my local HWARC (Household Waste & Recycling Centre).

Long gone are the days when one could simply hitch-up & go, first priority is to go online, bare your soul and acquire a PERMIT. i.e. you need permission to use a facility that you already pay for.

All-important document in hand I arrived to be greeted by an employee who requested sight of said permit, who then advised that my trailer was loaded TOO HIGH, apparently 60cm is the maximum height of a loaded trailer nowadays. He graciously allowed me to tip whilst suggesting that I ‘don’t do it again’. Closely followed by his supervisor who, iPad in hand, scanned my permit and took me through the same chastisement.

I did try and explain that I thought this latest in a long line of ‘hurdles’ would only result in more fly-tipping and additional cost of clearing same. His look told me he agreed wholeheartedly but his words were more worrying: ‘make the most of it before the charging scheme starts’ - Is BCC REALLY even contemplating charging residents to dispose of their waste in the correct manner?

And we’re paying our Council Tax for what exactly? To stand back and watch the hedgerows & lay-bys fill?

By the way - The current workaround, apparently, for those of us determined to thwart our local council and ‘do the right thing’ = multiple trips, more fuel burnt & more pollution - but at least a clear conscience.

Sunday Motorcycle Maniacs

G McRay, Wendover  |  Submitted: May 23rd 2017
Every fine Sunday it starts, every year it gets worse, groups of motorcyclists on full race bikes 'do the circuit.'

The bypass is a mecca apparently and that is bad enough, but over more recent years the speeding has spread throughout Wendover from Aylesbury Road, The High Street, and South Street.

Contacting the Police brings the usual concern but little changes. Until there is a concerted and well planned attempt to catch these maniacs, nothing will change and many people's lives will remain terribly affected. An ex-Silverstone marshal friend has clocked these bikes doing in excess of 80mph in 30mph limits around Wendover. The possibility of a severe accident is a matter of when not if.

The sheer noise of these machines is quite frightening, and most have illegal exhaust systems, and non-regulation number plates and brakes, effectively making them uninsured vehicles.

I would call on all residents affected (must be most of Wendover) to contact the police before another summer is ruined by these selfish morons.

In Memoriam - Clarice Watson

Irene Morris, Wendover  |  Submitted: May 23rd 2017
Clarice Watson (aged 98)
Died on Friday, 12th May 2017 at Hampden Hall Care Home

Clarice moved to Wendover six years ago, to live near to her family. She had spent all her 92 years in her home town of Blackburn Lancashire and was reluctant, to say the least, to moving South. However, she made many friends during time here and remained independent and active until only the last couple of weeks of her life. Her family are grateful to all who helped and befriended her.

Response to Planning Concern Letter in Wendover News

Jeff Membery, Assistant Director, Aylesbury Vale District Council,   |  Submitted: May 23rd 2017
A recent letter in Wendover News raised concerns over the planning process in Aylesbury Vale and I wanted to respond to some of your reader’s points. Planning decisions for the Vale are decided either by elected councillors at committee, or by planning officers, depending on the size and complexity of the proposed development. Importantly, however, although some influence can be exerted by local policies and neighbourhood plans, the essential criteria against which any planning decision must be made, is set in law by government. This applies whether the decision is made by councillors or officers.

For planning applications there is a statutory presumption in favour of development, that any challenges must overcome. As your reader mentions, where the council refuses an application, the developer has a legal right of appeal to the planning inspectorate. Not only can they overturn the council’s decision, but also award the developer costs and these must be met by local council taxpayers. Conversely, where applications are granted, objectors cannot appeal to the planning inspectorate and the only possible remedy is judicial review, which is restricted to matters of law.

There is a local and national shortage of homes and Aylesbury Vale is required by the government to accept major growth over the next few years, as well as to meet the ever-growing housing needs of our community. But councillors and officers alike always work to get the best deal they can for local residents, while operating within the confines of planning legislation.

Who is making the planning decisions for Aylesbury Vale?

Helen Sharp, Aylesbury Vale  |  Submitted: May 11th 2017
I am somewhat confused about how democracy is supposed to work in Aylesbury Vale. I have parish councillors, district councillors, county councillors and an MP. From local planning meetings I have attended, conversations with councillors at all levels and from concerned comments posted by my MP on various planning applications regarding large scale developments in the Vale, it is clear, all of these individuals seem to agree with many of their constituents that large scale developments pose a threat in many ways to the Vale’s character, landscape and current infrastructure. These are the people we have voted for and appear to be trying to protect the Vale from further large scale development. And yet it keeps happening. Fields, hedgerows and copses in Aston Clinton, Stoke Mandeville, Weston Turville and Wendover are being ripped up under the teeth of the developer’s diggers. In Worlds End the preservation of a Site of Special Scientific Interest in its current condition hangs by a thread dependent on the decision to be made by the Planning Inspectorate in June. My question is, to those who can answer, via this newspaper, who is doing this to us and the Vale? More importantly why are they doing this? We do not want it. My elected representatives do not want it. So please, tell us, the people who pay their council tax to those paid to make these decisions, why you want it? In the very least, we deserve an answer.

Wendover Neighbourhood Plan

Resident, Princess Mary Gate  |  Submitted: Apr 12th 2017
While I fully support the principle of local and neighbourhood planning, I have to say that the recent actions of Aylesbury Vale District Council's planning department leaves me wondering why anyone in Wendover should bother engaging with the Wendover Neighbourhood Plan process.

The last major development in the area, the building of the Princess Mary Gate estate, was carried out under the terms of the 2004 Aylesbury Vale District Local Plan. The section on Wendover said that the development should only go ahead if trees of amenity value were retained; many were removed to make way for the much-needed house, but the value of those left behind was recognised and a blanket tree protection order placed on them. Yet fast forward to 2017 and AVDC's planning officials say it's perfectly acceptable to chop down these protected trees so that one household can make its already large kitchen even larger.

The Parish Council can say what it likes about the importance of designing a good Neighbourhood Plan, but based on the actions of AVDC I have absolutely no confidence that in the years to come it will not simply be ignored at will by an unelected, unaccountable planning official.

RAF Halton Closure

Brian Bostock, Halton  |  Submitted: Apr 10th 2017
As a Halton resident I read the two pieces on the closure of RAF Halton with considerable interest.

The chair of HPC reports that the Parish Council have developed an overall plan that "seeks to protect the open vistas we see today, maintain the rural nature of the parish and provide a mix of residential and commercial uses". He goes on to say that they have shared their ideas with a wide range of interested parties. But not with the residents of Halton!

The comment from AVDC Planning offers a slightly different picture.

They say "work in relation to its development potential by external consultants is only at very early stages and no decisions relating to future development have yet been made". AVDC concludes by saying that residents of Wendover would like to know more but there is nothing more they can say.

It struck me that many Halton residents would also like to know more about what might or might not happen to the 743 acres that have intimately surrounded them for decades. At present it would appear they are being overlooked by both their Parish Council and AVDC.

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