Wednesday, 10 July 2013

My response to the HSE Environmental Statment

I approach this response from the point of view of a casual cyclist seeing continuous improvement in cycling friendly infrastructure. We should encourage people to cycle to work and cycle for shopping.

Although the residents call Wendover a village it is a market town and this should be correctly described in section 2.1.3.

A guiding principle (9.2.1) should be that when possible, land should be put to use to the benefit of the public. For example the roof of the tunnel next to Wendover (2.2.9) could be used as a park or for allotments. In both cases provision should be made for electricity and water.

Along those lines, we have been seeking to purchase a couple of acres for the purpose of growing plants and trees to support our garden design business ( but non are available as the only agricultural land for sale is sold in bulk to speculative developers. Perhaps part of the land requisitioned for the works could be made available to people with similar requirements and ourselves.


I was disappointed not to find a reference to cycling routs and paths in the overview of the area. Sections 2.1.7, 2.3.23, 5.4.9 & 5.5.6 should have at least mentioned the ‘Chiltern Cycle way’ and ‘Sustrans Regional Route 30’ (see &

The road upgrades and new roads should, by default, include a separate & dedicated cycle path. Especially the Road upgrades to Small Dean Lane and the access road to Grove Farm and the permanent link road between Beacombe Lane and Ellesborough Road listed in section 2.2.8 & 2.2.9. See also 2.3.21 & 5.5.6.

Perhaps the temporary diversion listed in 2.6.23 could be turned into a cycle way once it is no longer needed.

It is unclear what is the relevance of the 120 people per day cut off mentioned in 12.4.5. If this is some kind of thumb rule then it also should be applied to  the discussion in 5.5.5 of the cricket club. To my mind this makes no sense – this is a rural environment and the usage is seasonal and peeks during holidays. Thus daily averages is an inappropriate measure. Perhaps peek usage is more relevant.

The evaluation of impact in general and specifically in 12.5.15 is relevant to motorised transport but does not consider cyclist where slightly longer routs or changed gradients might pose a psychological or increased physical challenge – worsening significantly the conditions.

12.6.2 states Bacombe Lane will be permanently closed. Perhaps a shorter cycle link to Wendover could be provided  as part of the mitigation.





Thursday, 14 February 2013

Positive campaigning for a change

Good news! Marion Clayton will be stepping down making way for fresh candidates to stand in the coming Bucks County Council elections. I suppose all parties will put at the centre of their campaigns their (local) opposition to HS2 and the local development plans, pandering to the NIBYism that is prevailing – safe and boring. 

Several people have suggested to me that this time round the Conservatives are not that strong in their Wendover seat since all the HS2 objectors will protest vote and not support the three main parties. That is a worry as this will mean that not voting will directly translated into support for the nasties such as the BNP and UKIP. This makes my decision as to whom to vote for a tough one; especially as I have a lot of time for Steve Bowles although he is standing for the wrong party – l’ll wait to see who the LibDems, my favorite party, put up and whether there are any non-partisan candidates. 

There are several local issues that merit (positive) attention by the candidates: 

  1. Pledge to promote cycling – a good cycling network and places to lock the bicycle will ease the pressure on parking (leaving more spaces for customers) and promote tourism (such as to the Wendover woods). 
    1. Bucks County council has scrapped the dedicated cycling team that was behind the Aylesbury cycling show town – a move in the wrong direction.
    2. The existing cycle paths are in bad shape and many are not marked or signed clearly – leaving them unused.
    3. Switching off the highway lights deters cyclists who are concerned about falling in a pothole. 
    4. The cycling network in Wendover is sparse and unconnected – joining it up will make it more attractive. Get Wendover Cycling ( has worked a proposal you can see for now in Google maps  (blue marks existing paths and the red the suggested links). 
    5. Elegant and good quality cycle locking facilities should be peppered along the cycling network. Especially at the Wendover Manor Waste and the Train Station. 
  2. Public transport should be significantly improved. 
    1. The frequency of the buses should be increased - including in weekends. 
    2. Halton should be served. 
    3. A link should be created between the Wendover Train station and Tring Train Station. 
    4. A recent joint announcement of the John Colet School and the Wendover Swimming Association  said that it is highly likely that the swimming pool at the John Colet School will not reopen. I hope the candidates standing for the BCC election will work to find a solution where the pool is saved – perhaps the Wendover Parish Council could take it over – all it takes is some good will and adequate precepting (budgeting). 
I hope that the candidates concentrate on local issues. My personal (not evidence based) prediction is that the good people of the Wendover Ward will not change their voting pattern significantly. 

Voting is an obligation as it is a right

Friday, 10 February 2012

Do not waste tax money on litigation attack on HS2

(This was written on Monday the 6th of Feb but due to a technical error was not published immediaty)

Oh dear, Oh dear, Oh dear. This evening Mr. Chapman, for whom I have a lot of time, asked the Wendover Parish Council for £50,000 on behalf of the Wendover anti-HS2 group. The purpose is to support a legal challenge to the consultation that took place last year. This is to be on different grounds to the 51M group that will be challenging “only” one aspect of the consultation. The Wendover anti-HS2 group want to join forces with other bodies to challenge the consultation on the environmental impact.

It was to be expected that the people who were disappointed with the decision to go ahead with HS2 will take a scatter gun approach and try every avenue possible to bog down the HS2 project. I am sure the government has budgeted for a full battery of top notch lawyers. Remember, that is tax payer money and it has to come on the expense of something else – longer tunnels for instance. Now imagine Bucks County Council, AVDC, and Wendover Parish Council use your tax money to pay for QCs to mount the litigation. That means you and I will be paying for consultants, barristers, and QCs on both sides if we want it or not. The only people who benefit from litigation are lawyers.

If people want to donate money to the anti-HS2 organisations that is their choice and based on last years’ experience, the donations will flow in. However, using tax money is another matter:

  1. The government is about to enter a separate consultation on the impact to the environment. So challenging the consultation that is done and duster on this ground is wasteful and illogical.
  2. We should be focusing on negotiating better noise mitigation measures and perhaps even an extra stop somewhere near Aylesbury. If we had the money they intend to collect (£180,000) we could build something ourselves on top of what HS2 LTD will do or just plant trees.
  3. There is no clear evidence that most residents wish to spend money on such litigation.
  4. I believe that most people holding public office and working in the public sector have good intentions, are mostly competent, and try to do what is right for the UK (that said, I also believe that the scrutiny generated by our political system helps keep them such). Moreover, I would be surprised if the opposition to the consultation was not for-predicted. Therefore, I would expect that the consultation was carried out with great care. As do BCC & AVDC conduct their own consultation. Thus, the likelihood of a significant, substantial win of a legal challenge is very low in my mind.
  5. Once a consultation is over, lets move on to the next base and ensure minimum impact on Wendover, maximum compensation, and improvement to facilities such as roads, parking, cycle routes and public transport.

As a closing note: The HS2 project has evoked a very emotional response that has seemed to sweep the village. This group-think has created a situation that opinions that are not aligned with the “correct” thinking are treated as high treason. Please, please, please, do not attack people that think differently to you – respect them for their courage to voice an alternative view.

Monday, 20 June 2011

And here we go again

Worrying, very worrying, but not unexpected. I really, really, really wanted to believe that the new and veteran parish councillors would do their best to conduct their work in a good if not pleasant atmosphere. I predicted that there would be some friction but I expected it much later. I was wrong, already in the June meeting there were singes that several councillors “were not trying their hardest” to get along with the Parish Clerk – Fiona. But I was not prepared for the statement Fiona’s husband, Tony, read out last week, at the July Parish meeting. After he sat down, there was a moment of silence and then with no comment the Parish council returned to the agenda.

Fiona is a very good Parish Clerk. She is very dedicated and has contributed much to the village. The people who would like to see her “put in her place” are those who are not happy with the way she sticks to the rules, regulations and the law.

Tony kindly provided me with the text he read – I think it speaks for itself:

The role of the clerk is a strange one, the council appoint a clerk to advise what members can and cannot do.  Individuals may not wish to accept that, but surely holding a public position carries responsibilities.
What  is not acceptable is that my wife, your clerk, has had to suffer being told how one of your new members ‘hates’ her, has been referred to as ‘that twit of a clerk’ to members of the public and how the first thing that a new member has on his agenda is ,’to get rid of the clerk’.   Strange how some people think that everyone agrees with them but obviously not the ones who have been so offended as to wish to share these comments.
Outstanding complaints are still to be addressed with new complaints against bullying and harassment.  This will be an interesting situation as two of these people sit on your staffing committee, believing that they understand the very delicate matter of treating staff with dignity and respect.
I believe that most of you are fair minded, but these issues have to be addressed for the sake of this council and more importantly as far as I’m concerned the sake of my wife, your clerk.
Nights spent awake and visits to Stoke Mandeville in the middle of the night caused by stress and upset, are not acceptable and will not be tolerated.
I also believe unless issues are dealt with, not only will you lose your very hard working and conscientious Clerk but the minority will once again bring this council to it’s knees and I’m sure to most of you that’s not what you want.
Finally on a more personal note, I will not sit by and watch my wife, your clerk come home in tears because of a member or members of this council.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

results are in

To follow the disappointments of yesterday we have the results for the elections for the Wendover Parish Council:

There are 5,679 electors listed for Wendover. The Turnout is reported to be 49.1% which makes it 2,788 votes casted of which 125 were spoilt. The percents above are of the 2,663 counted voters.

Although I did not get in, I find it encouraging that about a third of the voters supported me. I would hazard a guess that the people who voted for me did not vote for Marion Clayton.

Congratulations to those who are going to represent us in the District Council and the Parish Council. I hope they do good – may the force be with them.

The fist meeting of the new Wendover Parish Council is scheduled for Tuesday the 17th of May where a new Chair will be elected. Let’s hope that the new chair will not have the tough and thankless treatment the last few chairs experienced.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

I am standing for the Wendover Parish Council 2011 Elections

Those who know me and my involvement & interest in the parish life will not be surprised to find my name on the list of candidates for the Wendover Parish Council.

My interpretation of the ‘Big Society’ concept is that the Parish Council should take on more responsibilities and initiatives. The Aylesbury Town Council have been leading on actively taking over responsibility for local tasks that were done by AVDC and BCC. They had an up hill battle with the politrucs that did not want to downsize their empires. But the current atmosphere of cuts and local government focus will encourage AVDC and BCC to shed activities to the parishes where it make sense. I do not believe that they may be carried out by volunteers (I include in this the library service). Therefore, I would strongly support increasing the precept significantly – “local taxes to drive local action, prioritised by the Wendover residents”.

I am self employed and my current client is an hour’s drive away. I strongly believe that the parish council activities should be “work life friendly” allowing people of all walks of life and family stages to participate. An important step in that direction is getting the communications right. I know that the business as usual stuff does not really interest most people in the village. On the other hand, it is really frustrating when you do learn of something that gets your buck up only after it becomes a fact. A good example is the BCC and AVDC consultations that are actively circulated only to council members and Jo Blogs has to constantly monitor the websites to see what is coming up – one cannot even register on a mailing list.

I will endeavour to support innovative approaches to building design instead of the cramped show boxes mushrooming around us. Moreover, I sign up to the approach that people should be allowed to improve their home without too much intervention and Big Brother attitudes.

You will not be surprised to hear that I will actively encourage initiatives to improve the cycling and pedestrian environment in the town.

I would like to make a special note of one of the candidates for whom I have a lot of time – Steven Worth. Not only does he really care about the village but he got many projects done for very little cost. I will try and learn from him and follow his example. I think that one of his secrets is to not drop the ball when big issues excite the rest of the Parish Council and the Parishioners.

Candidates for the District Counsel Elections

Liberal Democrats

• Christine M. Smith

• Simon J. Weaver

• Katie Willis


• Steve Bowles

• Chris Richards

• Peter Stachan

Candidates for the Wendover Parish Council Elections

Stephen C. Worth

Bob Duggan (

Cheryl M. Stamper

Tom Walsh

Oliver Statham

Karen B. Saunders

Emma Louise Carroll

Eli Kling

Hussein Ghomshei

Marion Clayton

James Grant

Bob Lewis

Nicky Gregory

Jannifer A. Ballantine

Roz Green

Friday, 26 March 2010

Princess Mary Gate – Are they already trying to pull one over us?

Wendover residents living near the new Princess Mary building site are up in arms again. A new planning application has been submitted. They claim it is for new units that are in excess of the original 400 permitted.

They have shared with me a letter sent to the Wendover Parish council

RE: planning application 10/10/00157/APP

We would like to raise our objection to the planning application for the erection of three 3 bedroom houses and one 2 bed apartment at the site of NAAFI Babington Rd, Halton Camp. These homes were not on the original plans.

As you know, the Princess Mary Gate development of 400 dwellings and hospital was very controversial and many concessions have already been made. There was a strong feeling at the time from both councillors and the public that if we are to live with this development, no further homes should be added to the site. The site is next to and within an area of outstanding natural beauty and the development’s size is already an overbearing presence on the natural environment.

From our personal standpoint, the latest plan to build homes next to our property will have serious consequences regarding the following:

  •       Overshadowing
  •       Overlooking and loss of privacy
  •       Overbearing nature of proposal
  •       Loss of trees
  •       Loss of ecological habitats
  •       Design and appearance
  •       Layout and density of buildings
  •       Effect on listed buildings and conservation areas
  •       Noise and disturbance from the scheme
With this in mind, we expect the Wendover Parish Council to have serious concerns about the site being further developed and with this latest application, the scale of the proposed dwellings considering the amount of space available and the proximity to other homes including our own.

To illustrate the consequences of the application, we have created a photo mock-up showing you the before and after effects of the plan (see attached). We have used an existing building from our area that matches the intentions of the developers, so it should be a close fit to the final look. Even if the design is different, the height is indicative. We have not included the one 2 bed apartment in this photo as we cannot envisage where it will be placed in such a small area of land, but we feel it will have a more negative impact and look more of an eyesore than the one already envisaged here.

Alas, I will not be able to attend the Parish Council meeting (I am not sure this subject will come up). However, People in the know have suggested the correct address is AVDC/Development Control where residents are allowed to present their objections.

Give them a finger they will want the whole hand.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Are the schools right to stay closed?

A joke that is timeless goes:
The first Jewish president of the United States is elected. He invites his mother to the inauguration. As she lives on the other side of the continent he arranges luxurious transport: Limos, military choppers, Air Force One. The works. At the White-House she is treated like a queen. When she returns home she meets a friend who asks her “I didn’t see you at synagogue, how was your weekend?” to which she answers: “You remember my son the LAWYER? I visited his brother.”

Yes, I come from a culture where education is paramount and the typical coveted career is of the high academic type; such as a scientist, a medical doctor or a lawyer. However, American ambulance chasing has distorted law practice that used to be defending basic freedoms to stifling entrepreneurship and leadership. As has been the case with the closure of work places and schools over the last week. So I have stricken-out Law from my daughters ambition list and added Information Worker. The latter is the job of the future and will be increasingly done by telecommuting (working from home).

Presently, I am working on a project Wales. Some of the people working around me live in very rural settings and it was understandable they could not reach work. However, I observed a clear pattern: the lion’s share of the people who came in were contractors. In other words people who would not have been paid had they stayed home. QED: where there is a will there is a way. To be fair there were a handful of employees who came in. One even walked for about an hour. But they were the exception rather than the rule.

Not convinced most schools in Buckinghamshire could have been open? Well what I experienced today proves that. With great trepidation my wife checked the school closure announcements on the BCC website. She called me over much exited. Basically, the message was that if enough parents showed up today (Sunday) with shovels the school will open. Naturally I was not the only parent to get there well before the allotted hour eager to clear away any excuses. As we worked more arrived. So many parents appeared much more than the minimum required was cleared. See pictures. So, it was not the roads that were a problem, nor the teachers not being able to leave their homes, nor the commute for some of the students – it was the school grounds. I believe, this issue could have been addressed earlier: The parents would have come earlier, community service ‘convicts’ could have been employed, the brownies and scouts could have been brought in, RAF Halton could have been asked to provide volunteers, parents with 4X4 could have lent a hand to getting students and teachers to school and so forth.

However, the item in the Buck Herald “Are the schools right to stay closed?” quotes BCC Councillor Clayton saying that the decision is taken by head teachers. I expect they also take into account the message BBC communicates between the lines as well as what their colleagues do. Contrast these two possible memos from BCC: ”You decide, but if something goes wrong its your head. Here is a list of things that can go wrong;” vs. “It is our patriotic duty to present a positive example and to help the ailing economy by freeing those that can work to do so. Use our British ingenuity, here are some ideas.” Yes, it is a matter of leadership (lack of). Note, There were head teaches that opened their schools if at least five teachers arrived, including the northern most school in Scotland and other areas much more affected than Buckinghamshire.

BCC and AVDC have been too long in the hands of the conservatives. Their majority has induced a certain arrogance and complicacy in their approach to issues. We need new people that will bring enthusiasm, new ideas, originality and some Leadership rather than just doing the minimum legally required.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

The Wendover Library Facilities

Last Monday (7th Dec 09) the Wendover Parish Council discussed the disappointing news that AVDC is considering changing the rules of the game with regards to the Wendover Library car park charges and toilets. I cannot help imagining how it came about:

Jim Hacker: I am in a catch 22 situation. We must cut drastically the budget but there are elections to AVDC in June. I am dammed if I cut services and I am dammed if I don’t.

Sir Humphrey: That is easy. Lets divert the public’s attention from the real issues. Let’s start a war.

Jim Hacker: OK, but lets make it many small wars. I notice the people of Wendover have been complaining there is not enough parking provision. So we can make money out of this scarce resource. Lets increase the parking charges and get the parking wardens on double shifts. How would you suggest we camouflage this? We tried it last year in Aylesbury and had to make a shameful U turn.

Sir Humphrey: A very good choice Sir. You might consider two diversions: abolish the first free hour of parking in the Library Parking and close the toilets.

Jim Hacker: That will get them jumping. Nothing like closing the toilets to focus the attention. It is like the wife ‘holding her favours’ to ‘convince’ me to go on the trip to the USA; but really covering up for the affair she is having. Brilliant!

Sir Humphrey: Err. Don’t look at me like that. It was not me hiding in your cupboard when you came home last night. May I suggest a slight improvement? Tell the Wendover Parish Council that the changes will take immediate effect. Suggest that if they do not take over the care of the toilets they will be closed next week. Just before the Christmas shopping rush.

Jim Hacker: But they have not provided in the Precept for this … Ah, I see genius.

I probably have given too much credit to the AVDC counsellors but we are in risk of missing the point if we only concentrate on the toilets issue – important as it is. The parish council is pushing back and requesting that AVDC improve the state of the toilets at the Library card park and hand them over to the WPC in an orderly manner and in a schedule that allows for percepting. In the long run this is a good solution as no matter if the cost comes out of AVDC or Wendover Parish Council budgets it boils down to our local taxes. So it is us paying for the facilities either way. I like the idea that the responsibility is transferring from District to Parish. It strengthens the case for Quality Status and the people responsible will probably will also be users of the car park – closer to the eye closer to the hart.

Do not get me wrong. Good, clean and accessible public toilets are crucial to keeping our High Street survival. You just try finding alternative toilets in the pubs and coffee shops – go on lets see you.

Whenever the Far-East is mentioned near my mother in law, she grimaces. Rightly or wrongly it has, in her mind, a connotation with filthy toilets. She has never been to the Far-East and we told her that her preconceptions are based on Chinese whispers (pan intended) and that we could plan a trip that will guarantee top quality facilities. But the stereotype is stronger than facts. My personal experience in Venice was not of grimy toilets (I could live with that) but of their absence. The hardship of the four days of the Carnival where the time between breakfast and dinner was spent with no prospect of even a urinal has scarred me for life – Over my dead body are we going there again. And don’t get me started about the pubs and coffee shops that lock their toilets. There are even McDonald's branches where the toilets are not accessible to all anymore.

See! They did it. I got distracted from the issue I really wanted to write about – the implication of increasing the parking charges. Already the AVDC charges are skewed. The District has cynically opted for the advance payment ticket machine. This means one must guess the parking duration which as a rule results in overpayment and a stressful shopping experience.

So, if they increase the parking charges I would like them to charge for the actual time parked. Especially if they will abolish the first free hour.

P.S. Apropos spinning miss-information, have a look at “Sarah Palin: Obama must boycott Copenhagen” - When I finished reading it my belly ached from laughing until I realized how sad it is.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

David Lidington: Lloyds Group

The Bcuks Herald informed us on the 1st of December that "Lidington to debate HBOS job cuts in Parliament tonight". I found the text of this debate on TheyWorkForYou. For a change, our MP did his homework and lists many interesting facts I was not aware of. If I were the editor of the Bucks Herald I would send my investigative reporters on trail set by this speech. The first investigation should be into why did the Bucks Herald miss most of these?

Did you know that one in three in our Vale works in the public sector. This mainly covers BCC, AVDC, and the NHS Trust. Even if we subtract the NHS we are still left with a proportion that will not shame any communist system. In fact Mr. Lidington sais that the conservative administration in the last decade made things worse to the extent that "Aylesbury is often seen as linked either to the Thames valley and the M40/M4 corridor area of the south-east economy, or to Milton Keynes-or indeed to both. However, when we analyse the structure of Aylesbury's economy, we find that for a long time it has been less developed and less high-tech than either the Thames valley or Milton Keynes."

Mr. Lidington said that "Like all the other growth areas, Aylesbury vale had a sizeable proportion-just under £2 million-of funding that the Government had provisionally allocated for next year withdrawn by the Department for Communities and Local Government in order to fund the so-called kick-start scheme for housing development. That clawback by the Department represented a reduction of almost half Aylesbury's original GAF budget for the next year and nearly 20 per cent. of the funding allocated over the entire three-year period." So They promised us money for the infrastructure for the new 9000 units and then took it away once the consultation was over. Nice move.

He then goes on to make a few suggestions where the government might help (go read for yourself). While we are waiting with baited breath for the written response from Ian Lucas (Parliamentary Under-Secretary {Business and Regulatory Reform}, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), I would like to add a suggestion of my own: we need a real university center here, teaching real sciences. A research center always attracts High-Tech.

One of Lidingotn's suggestions informed me that "Government to accept the application made by Aylesbury Vale district council to be one of the pilot areas for the tax increment finance scheme." - Hay Bucks Heral! Why did you not report this? How about tacking this up as a campiagn. I think it is a briliant idea.