Monday, 8 December 2008

Direction of Housing Growth at Aylesbury December 2008

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Now that I have read the consultation document, listened to a presentation at the Local Area Forum and let it all sink in, I am clear on two points: 1. The major decisions have been made for us and we are only consulted on the trifles; 2. There is no real ambitious vision for the vale.

This consultation is a sham. It is more of a cover up for the previous ridiculous “consultation”. The fact that we have again the Southern Arc as an option despite it being rejected by the residents and found to be extremely lacking in a few important issues. The same major problems haunt all the “new” options ‘put’ in front of us: currently almost all schools are to the south of Aylesbury. Some schools to the north of the town will help elevate the Rut-Run Congestion. Moreover, writing a consultation a second time will not change the flood risks identified during the first round.

However, there are more important issues to consider. The job opportunities have been dwindling in our vale for the last decade. The wording of the consultation indicates the planners assume the new development will be mainly dormitory residence putting burden on the already over encumbers transportation to London and the Thames corridor. This development could have been used as an opportunity two fold: leveraging transport and job opportunities. Building in the north of Aylesbury would lend strength to the need for a train link to Oxford and Milton Keens. I find the assertion that just more people living here will generate more jobs ridicules. To really encourage local employment we need what I call “seeds of growth”. A centre of academic research such as a university concentrating on subjects that are relevant to high-tech or Start up ventures.

I believe the development is inevitable and that eventually all the options in the “Consultation”, and more, will be built up. Therefore, I would prefer a solution that will preserve as much of the green belt as possible. To my mind the best solution that will preserve the surrounding green and neighbouring villages is modern high rises with a narrow foot print. Alas, the experience of the 60ies and 70ies has left a lasting intolerance in peoples minds. However, Aylesbury must grow up into a proper city in order to preserve the character of its surrounding and ensure prosperity of its residence. Lets face it, Aylesbury is a characterless town. Adding more kennel-like houses will not help.

A desperate attempt to cloak the consultation is a pretence of ‘green’ considerations is the promise to “provide a minimum of 10% of the total energy requirements … renewable or low carbon energy”. There is even a wind turbine on one of the diagrams. Well it is just an intention that could be discarded as un practical later. I ask why just 10% and what are the other low carbon solutions? What are the guarantees that these ‘intentions’ would be enforced?

I wonder what is hiding behind the finding that for the Combined East and Southern Growth Arc “Transport modelling suggests that it may be the worst performing of the three options.” I think it refers to the fact it will be costly to construct both sets of trunk roads required for the Eastern and the southern construction. I cannot see how this would be worst congestion-wise; to my layman’s logic it is the other way round.

Last and not least the intention to allow for sustainable transport should be strengthened. I would like to see a clear promise to provide a wide network of dedicated cycle paths.

I am not going to respond to the questions in the consultation questionnaire as they insult my intelligence and do not focus at the real issues.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

BNP List

It was not that hard to find the all talked about list of that dark party. There is an interesting map presenting the hotspots on

All I’ll say about the list is:

HP Area

Count of BNP Members









Flackwell Heath


Great Missenden




High Wycombe


Holmer Green




Wooburn Green




Hemel Hempstead






Total HP area



Tuesday, 11 November 2008

AVDC Consultation on Growth - Mark II

At the last Wendover Parish Council, Councillor Richards pointed out that the direction of development in Aylesbury chosen will have implications on later plans for Wendover. He could not elaborate as he is on the AVDC planning committee. The consultation was presented at the last Wendover Local Area Forum (LAF) which gave the Parish Chair, Sue Toft Hunt a chance to ask a very good and direct question: Will it be a bad omen for Wendover if the Southern Arc Option is chosen as it would make it cheaper to continue it down to Wendover? The response she got is enlightening. It seems there is a planning golden rule discouraging joining up urban sprawls.

Wendover is marked for future tier 2 development. So if you do not want further massive development in our village (in the far future) then it might be wise to support the southern arc option. However, there are so many things wrong with it that were pointed out during the last round of consultation.

Personally I do not like none of the proposed options as they do not address sufficiently the question of where will people work. Over the last decade, “when the sun was shining”, Aylesbury lost about 7-8% of job places. We are now in economic dier straits and more jobs are expected to be struck out the books. Thus, most of the new residents will be commuting. I would have preferred a northern theme for the development where the new residents would be encouraged to commute to Oxford and Milton Keynes. This will also help promoting the rail link between Oxford and Milton Keynes.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Icelandic Buckinghamshire

According to the BBC News Buckinghamshire has been caught with about 5 million stuck in Icelandic banks. Well Kent has 50 million at stake. Traulling down the list I see that our county is in good company. If I am not mistaken the county’s budget for next year is around 270 million.

I think Brown should announce that he suspect the Icelandic government is aiming WMDs against the American base there and take a joint action with Bush.

Sharon Bowles: Statistics are not boring

I just learnt that Sharon Bowles, my favourite MEP, has recently been appointed as the European Parliament’s representative on the European Statistical Advisory Committee.

Good on Ye Sharon!

This committee is very important as it will focus on making sure that statics used for controlling EU funding are reliable, and held to the same international standards. In other words she will be promoting informed decision making instead of just going on stereotypes and prejudices. For instance I came across an article comparing the EU states road safety track. It showed how viewing the standardized statistics comparing states and cities leverages new insight into the issue of death on the roads. So how do you think the UK faired? Not so badly as you would think. And the reason is we are highly congested so the actual driving speeds are reduced resulting in less people getting killed. Where congestion was not that of an issue, poor road maintenance was the main driver for accidents.

So I have to disagree with Sharon when she sais: “Statistics may not be sexy, and may be thought boring, but they are very important!” I would say that about rules and regulations (law in short). Once one sees good statistics in action and experiences the pleasure of making an informed decision, one realizes that they are essential and sexy when placed in the right hands.

By the way, check 'What Has Europe Done?' out

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Another step towards resolution

The Chair of the Wendover Watchdogs wrote to BCC questioning the dispute regarding the ownership of the paved area used by Rumsey's for their tables and chairs for which they paid Wendover Parish Council (WPC). This small area right up to the corner of No.26 Back Street has always been maintained by WPC, and was repaired less than two years ago by WPC and in its entirety also included in the rent. The rent ceased when the "Green Affair" erupted resulting in a loss of income for the people of Wendover.

Mr. Colin Perrottet's response is enlightening:

"... . Buckinghamshire County Council have not indicated to Mrs. Green that it
belongs to her.
The area of land to the side of No 26, High Street, where Rumsey's place
their tables and chairs was considered to be part of the public highway, but
at the early on in the dispute with Mrs. Green, it was established that this
is part of the Manor Waste and therefore under the jurisdiction of Wendover
Parish Council."

If A is an integral part of B and B belongs to P then it is clear that also
A belongs to P. But he will not go as far as to say that until an
investigation that has begun about a year ago discovers this mathematical

Nu well, at least it is a step in the right direction.

I really hope that Mrs. Green has not put in motion a trail of events that will cause a situation where Rumsey's will not be able to use the pavement - I love their chocolate and I love the European feel they bring to Wendover.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Is a change planned for RAF Halton?

Canvassing last year, the issue of reduction in civilian jobs at RAF Halton was raised by several people. However, officials kept assuring us that nothing has changed. Well they also insist there was no change to the policing in Wendover. So I was very concerned.

The response David Lidington just received from Bob Ainsworth to the question How many armed forces personnel have received recruit training at RAF Halton in each year since 1998?” suggests there evidence of a significant decline in activity at the camp ( The only activity that is clearly petering out it the trade training for supply, catering and administration roles which was small number anyway (Number 1 School of Technical Training relocated to RAF Cosford in 1990). However, in 2004 the number of recruit training, one of the main activities in the cap, was halved ( last year it was rose to about 66% of the 2003 activity).

I wonder what were the results of “Air Command Study Into the Future of RAF Halton”? and have activities been moved before this study was completed?

We now know that "RAF Halton had been named in the Defence Estate Development Plan 2008 as one of a number of bases that may be amalgamated into a larger facility to save money. There are another 45 bases named in the MoD plan that may close." (quoted from

Said plan states: "The RAF is considering the creation of a single ‘gateway’ to the RAF for Other Ranks and a through-life training organisation for RAF personnel. However, RAF Halton is in poor condition and an alternative site may be considered." I hope the BCC & AVDC will not just ring thier hands and rolle thier eys and find crative ways to convice the MOD that bucks is the best place for its activities.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

A Milestone has been reached

On the way to the last parish meeting, I promised myself I will not say a word as a show of support to the “Way Ahead” effort. It was hard to sit on my hands when the public was given the opportunity to speak. The new Chair, Sue Toft-Hunt, impressed me. She controlled the meeting and managed Councillor Ballantine. The rest rallied behind her. All in all, the facilitator, Pat Edwards, seems to have been value for money. I look forward to ‘boring, nose to the grindstone’ parish meetings. However, the ‘Green Affair’ is still unresolved, leaving the land given to the good people of Wendover at risk due to this precedent.
There were several issues discussed, each merits an entry sometime. Most symbolically, Councillor Worth reported that clearing the overgrowth on London Road has revealed both an old hedge and a Milestone that probably last saw light about 30 years ago.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Innovative approach

The wonders of modern technology alerted me to Adam’s “Stunning structures”. He sais: “My initial reaction when I first saw the shell of the building at the beginning of the year, was that it was designed to emulate a butterfly”. As I have not been up that way for some time now I made a point of detouring there on my way to the Gym @ the Halton Tennis Centre. The pictures here are mine but very similar to Adam’s. It is great these guys got planning permission. In areas like the Lake District it makes sense to have a certain uniformity of look (the slate roof etc.) but most of our area is uninspired red-brick pigeon holes. I welcome the daring to be innovative and I hope to see more such experiments in our area. I have a bellyful of grumbles about the poky little shoe boxes that characterize our region. Having said that, each time I go canvassing or leafleting I come across some hidden (and not so hidden) gems I have forgotten about and I do love the Wendover High Street.

Speaking of thinking ‘out of the box’. A few days ago a team resurfaced a short strip of tarmac opposite my window. They worked vigorously and efficiently. However, they did what they were told to do and that is it. They paid no attention to a pot hole they had to walk over a few times. I will not be surprised they even did not report it. I remember a promise in one of the BCC Pravda leaflets of mending also potholes that were not originally marked if noticed when the crews are on site. This seems to be the way things are done in our local government. Just the other day I visited a VAHT (Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust) resident who suffered a similar problem: workmen guttered her kitchen during a scheduled work but stopped when they encountered damp wood. The family was left living in the house with no kitchen for about 9 weeks but the contractor did not report the situation to VAHT nor did any body come over for a follow up inspection. It is time local government here got a shake. Vote for a change in the coming elections.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Walnut Tree Meadow

It’s been a year, I think, since the consultation regarding Walnut Tree Meadow and lo & behold two wide entrances are in place. A few Parish Council meetings ago, Councillor Worth mentioned his dream to bring the meadow under the wings of the Parish. I think it is a great idea and I hope he will see it through as he has done so successfully with other pet projects of his - such as the Wild Flower Meadow and the London Rd. site kindly donated by the Lord of the Manor. I wonder how many people in Wendover are aware of the plans for that site and their progression.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Mixed Feelings

This evening the new, fully manned (or should I say womaned), Parish Council met at last. It was refreshing to listen to a meeting that was not bogged down by undercurrents of tension. Well almost none. There was some friction between the Chair, Councillor Gregory, and Councillor Chris Richards. Clearly Chris was uneasy about the manner Nicky Gregory is hanging on to the position of Chair and some decisions made in a closed-to-the-public meeting. I hope the new councillors noticed that Nicky hastened to shut him up on two occasions. What he did manage to get though is very worrying. I noted that he told the Chair that he was not happy with “How things were agreed”.

It is wrong, wrong, wrong, that Nicky is still the Chair for many reasons. Some of which were listed by Mrs. Eileen Mckechnie from the public gallery. I left the previous meeting with the clear impression that she accepted the position as an interim measure - just until the new councillors are in. I was surprised and annoyed to find out that she pulled a ‘Marion Clayton’ – she used crafty wording that sounds good but conceals the real intention. Now she sais she’ll stay on until the new councillors learn how to be ones. Sounds reasonable no? NO! After each election you get inexperienced councillors but they do elect a Chair at the first meeting where the continuity of knowledge and correct procedure is ensured through the guidance of the Parish Clerk. Having heard the discussions today it is clear there are councillors that can take up the challenge of Chairship. Moreover, Councillor Gregory thought they were all experienced enough to vote for almost £5000 ponds to be spent on a vehicle activated sign.

But that is nothing compared to how infuriated I felt when Councillor Richards quoted a decision made behind closed doors to send a letter to a parishioner to ”apologize for causing unnecessary distress”!!!! If that is to whom I think it is, it means that they have taken a side on the “Mrs. Green Affair” just before they declared an independent investigator is going to look into it. They are saying that the councillors that resigned and the Parish Clerk were wrong without waiting for the investigation. As it happens I believe they were protecting the interests of the people of Wendover.

So! Good luck to the new councillors. I can’t resist a direct plea to the councillors:
1. Don’t wait for the investigation and do not draw all your knowledge about the “Green Affair” and its impact from a one sided presentation a “management meeting” would be.
2. Please, Please, Please spare me the agony of watching Councillor Balantine presenting the planning applications. Today she stepped well out of the mark with her comment about one of the applicants who to her opinion “can’t be trusted.”
3. If you manage to clear the “Green Affair” you seem like a bunch that could do good for Wendover – onwards and upwards.

I am in total support of the Vehicle Activate Sign that Councillor Worth is campaigning for. He mentioned a very interesting statistic: in a recent survey done on the London Road the average speed was about 45 MPH. I also think that AVDC Councillor McPartland made a lot of sense with his suggestion that the Parish Council establish a police liaison group.

You see not all is bad.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Cars Parked on Shared Cycle Path and Intimidating Behaviour

At around 10 am on the 26th of June 2008 I was riding my bicycle along the Aylesbury road shared path in Wendover. As I was approaching the petrol station I noticed that the section of the shared path that is adjacent to the used cars dealer was blocked by two parking cars and I saw a woman with a double seated pram that was forced to walk along these cars in the road itself. I took a few pictures on my phone camera and immediately was confronted by a man who later on drove away in one of the cars. The man did not waist time and immediately started threatening me. Apart from using abusive language he also deliberately bumped me with his bear gut trying to get his face near mine and raised his had in a menacing manner. I resigned myself to being hit especially when we were joined by other people, presumably from the used car dealer’s, who added fuel to the fire by also threatening me with violence (a thin man with a colourful Mohock hair do). I am happy to report that I managed not to loose my calm and did not mirror their behaviour. One mistake I did was to give the man my business card and ask him for his name. His replay sounded like a threat to me and now he knows where I live.

I have lodged an official police complaint: Crime reference number: AJ3120337/08.

I am sending this letter to Buck County Council as the shared path is an important rout used by people on mobility scooters, people with prams and adults and children on bicycles and scooters. Some enforcement is needed to keep the path clear.

I am including a carbon copy to the Wendover Parish council so they might consider officially requesting the PCSOs and BCC traffic wardens to give the issue of cars parking on the shared path a high priority.

Friday, 20 June 2008

First Reading of Aproved Details for the Former Princess Mary Hospital site

I just received a letter from AVDC informing me that “After taking into account planning policies and any comments we received, permission has been Details Approved.” You can see the whole range of documents on the AVDC site when it works. I noticed it does not work with FierFox.

I could not find on the website a document that lists the comments and the planners reaction. Nor is there an easy way to identify the changes to the original proposal.

It seems a lot of effort was invested into the question of a one-way vs. two way solution and I think that they opted for the two way option (see “Summary of Highway Design Proposals 804708”). I was happy to find a lengthy discussion of a cycle rout (see “Further Highway Considerations 790381”).

I noticed that the number of houses probably has not changed although their appearance and height were tweaked.

Now we need to monitor the implementation and the promise for a cycle rout to the schools and to the Centre of Wendover + Toucan Crossing. I am slightly worried that as the two-way system was chosen the 20MPH restriction will not be long lived.

Friday, 6 June 2008

The Nomination is closed

Today at midday the nomination for the coming flash elections to the Wendover Parish Council was closed. Exactly nine courageous citizens have decided to stick their head over the parapit and stepped forward. This means no election:

Name of Candidate

COOLEY Preeta Josephine




MYERS Alan Sydney


SAUNDERS Karen Brigette

STAMPER Cheryl Madeleine

WORTH Stephen Charles

Of the nine six are women. That will make the Parish council 8 women and 5 men. Of those who resigned only Steven worth put his hand up. I suppose the rest intended to wait for the results of the investigation into the Green affair before suggesting themselves for co-option. As all seats are taken it is a great loss to the community.

It is paramount that said investigation is not only carried out objectively but is also seen to be so. I believe that originally it was intended that Irene Thompson (Chief Executive Officer, Bucks Association of Local Councils) would conduct it but the letter she placed in the Bucks Herald (21 May issue) made it clear she is biased. I would recommend that any person linked to the affair or that associates with people involved, keep their distance so there will be no room for doubt. Those of you who have followed the sad development will understand me when I recommend that nobody of the previous Parish council nor anybody who is an active member of the Aylesbury Vale Constituency Conservative Party is involved. I am not saying they are not to be trusted but I do believe it is important to ensure justice is also seen to be done. I hope that the investigation report will not be done under the instruction of the Parish council. Imagine how it would look if the report is submitted to the Parish Council for approval? Moreover, I hope it is made public in its entirety.

For the new councillors, a word of friendly advice:

  1. The Green affair is toxic for your health – keep away from it.
  2. Fiona is a good Parish Clark. Be very suspicious of anybody who tells you otherwise.

I’ll be watching

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Why Did They Resign?

I saw Harriet Snookes of the Bucks Herald talking to Fiona, the Parish Clark, and Mrs. Green, a Wendover Resident in dispute with the parish over a square meter. Harriet has a really hard job there, to sort out the facts about the dispute. But that is only the Casus Beli. I hope she does not loose the plot there. The real question is not who is right (in this case everybody is right and everybody is wrong) but why was this not settled in the usual amicable manner that characterised the Wendover Parish Council until now, and what was the straw that broke the patience of the councillors who voted with their feet.

I obtained copies of some of the resignations letters under the Freedom of Information Act. There seems to be a similar theme running through them. I read in them the pain of having been forced to divorce from a long standing commitment to serving Wendover with love.

When Norman Western read out his letter of resignation, what impressed me the most was not his words - powerful as they were - but his voice. It conveyed deep anger and hurt. He said that he had hoped that he would be able to contribute something of value to benefit the community of Wendover as a whole. That, he wrote, has proved a vain hope. He blamed the corrosive environment: ‘Council meetings have become totally emasculated, due to the continuous, “nit picking” as part of the ongoing vendetta against the Parish Clerk.” This, he said, caused him considerable emotional distress.

Another who displayed exasperation is Angus McKechnie. He stormed out of the meeting when he realized that the ‘appalling and dreadful behaviour’ of Councillors Gregory and Ballantine was to continue to sandbag the proceedings. Others have pointed out these two as the ones who have put the sticks in the wheels of the Parish Council. Eileen Mckechnie goes further to mention Councillor Clayton.

Now I would not hasten to tarnish Councillors Gregory and Ballantine with the same brush. When I started to listen in to the Parish Council meetings, I knew no one and did not know their political affiliation. Up to the unfortunate eruption of the Mrs. Green Issue the council was ticking along very nicely and I formulated my opinion of the councillors based on what they said, how they said it and what was reported that they did. Some impressed me very much.

I tended to agree with most of what Councillor Gregory proposed and my impression was of an experienced sharp councillor. When I met her and her sister, Mrs. Green on several occasions they were always warm towards me and I could imagine them coming over for afternoon tea and scones in my wife’s wonderful garden (Plug: So what went wrong? Impatience, temper, involvement of lawyers, and single mindedness. I can see how constant pressure and bad advice have slowly wrong-footed this otherwise good councillor. Originally the general mood of the council was that this issue should be resolved fast and if possible without bad blood. But as it dragged on and more heated words were said, Mrs Gregory found her support was dwindling. That made her actions more desperate. And this is where the rest of the council is to blame. They should have resolved it. I do not know what went on outside the Parish Meetings. But I think there was an attempt to clear the water. That seemed to have done the trick for a meeting or two. I could see the pressure she felt and that she truly believed she was right – a hand should have been extended to pull her out (I know, it is easier said than done). I felt for her when I realized her only ally left was Councillor Ballantine.

Councillor Ballantine? She might have been an excellent councillor in the past. But almost from the word Go, I marked her in my mind as a Liability.

Alas, the vote of no-confidence the resignation letters convey does not compel their subjects. I hope they read the writing on the wall. For the best of Wendover, I plea to all the rest of the councillors that have not resign yet, to do so to help save face and open the way to the resolution of this affair.

Writing this saddens me. I would prefer to end with a positive note. Allow me to quote from Dr. Sheila King who was the first casualty of this saga:

“I would like to acknowledge the enormous support and sound advice I have received as Chair of the Council from two Councillors in particular – namely Ted Wilkinson and Eileen McKechnie. I would also like to acknowledge the excellent work of some members of the Council – most notable Stephen Worth and Joel Stevens – who have quietly and productively gone about what I believe to be the true business of Councillors ie significantly improving the environs of Wendover for all.”

May we always see the full half.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Lost for Words

The wonderful weather the last few days has encouraged us to get out to the garden and spend some family quality time preparing the garden for its opening on the 25th of May in aid of the Ian Rennie charity, see However, for some the enjoyment of this wonderful spring has been tarnished. No, I am not talking about the Labour party. I am thinking about our Wendover Parish Council.

Yesterday I was given a compliment (paraphrasing): “We have been checking your blog for a comment on the Parish Meeting last Monday. Why have you not written anything?” Well, I could say I was very busy with my work (which is true), my wife gave me a lot to do in the Garden, I was working on my contribution to the Chiltern Writers Group Anniversary Anthology, or just that I did not want to spoil my excellent mode induced by the eruption of spring in the Garden. But this would not be true. When I came home Monday I was itching to bang into the blog my anger but when I put fingers to keyboard I just could not find the right words. I was shell-shocked, flabbergasted and dumfounded.

I sat through the meeting in sheer agony. There are several dimensions to the calamity the parish is experiencing. The most important in my mind is the tension between certain councillors (and their “advisors”) and the Parish Clerk, Fiona. I suppose this is another reason I got stuck with writing an entry on Monday. People expect me to ‘declare’ on what side of this issue I fall. I do not really want to be dragged into this murky swamp. I do however fear that one of the casualties of this sorry state of affairs might be Fiona.

Loosing Fiona, or just loosing here enthusiasm for the job will hurt the Parish much more than loosing certain councillors. We have already lost councillors I have learnt to respect and appreciate their immensely important contribution to the Parish. It started with the resignation of Dr Sheila King and now we face an avalanche of resignations. To-date:

Ted Wilkinson
Eileen McKechnie
Angus McKechnie
Norman Western
Steve Bowles
Brian Prior

Those of us who follow the Parish Council will appreciate the severe blow this loss is. It was brought home immediately in the last meeting where Councillor Ballantine made a pigs breakfast of her attempt to step into Steve’s shoes.

But I digress from the main issue, Fiona. My outsider’s impression of Fiona is that she is dedicated, hard working, friendly and professional. The parish has invested in her training and until the ‘Green Affair’ flamed up last year, she was chugging along very nicely, thank you very much. Yes, she is on a learning curve. The business of keeping democracy ticking is very complex. The training Parish Counsellors get is mainly of how to find the right rule or regulation. This ‘lawyer’ type thinking is critical to the correct running of the Parish. The Chair and Councillors have often sent Fiona off to check the correct way of approaching issues. But when she sticks to the letter of the rule book (her bible) there are those who see parallels to Sir Humphrey manipulating the government machine. That is not what I see. What I see is a good Parish Clark who has our village good at her hart and that has the potential to become an excellent Clark. What will make her excellent? Experience. Experience and seniority provide one with the perspective that allows one to operate without constantly referring to the Book. This leads to a more relaxed and mature approach to doing ones job, handling the takes and duties, and interpreting the Councils decisions.

Last Monday the leaking Ship hit a debilitating storm, lost its second captain and many good hands. Whatever measures are taken to keep it afloat, in Valen’s name, do not execute the chief mechanic. We need the engine running. First to work the pumps and then to get back on course.

There, I think I managed to get through this entry without getting involved in the ‘Green Affair’. I want to keep myself impartial on this one.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

The Golden Path

I remember when I read about the first cars. A rule was imposed that required a person waving a red lag walking in front of the noisy stinking Automobile. Ridicules isn’t it? Stop and think, what is the number one killer nowadays? It’s road accidents. So they had a point. But being conservative, sticking to only what you know leads to absurdities and stagnation. Was the industrial revolution good or bad? Should have Britain embrace it or reject it? Should all slaves be freed? Should women get the vote? We take for granted change that previous generations foght tooth and nail for and against, predicting the end of the world and Utopia. I expect that in a few generations Genetic research will not be so controversial as it is today and the objectors would be regarded as outdated as those who could not fathom the radical idea that the earth is round or thought the Eifel Tower is a mistake. I expect that in a year or two people will not even remember that once we had to campaign for eight years to get a cycle path along Aylesbury Raod.
It takes a good dollop if intuition and open mindedness to judge whether a change or innovation is worth the risk it carries or even to guesstimate the relevant risks. We all take these risks, telling ourselves rightly or wrongly they are calculated. We get married, we take a mortgage, we drive a car, we change jobs, we replace the ruling party and so forth.
We are very bad judges of risk. We over exaggerate the odds when the result might be calamitous and underestimate when it is inconvenient. The probability of being injured in a terrorist attack is miniscule compared to the likelihood of being hit by a motor vehicle. What do you fear more? Where is more money spent?
So does a path shred by pedestrians and cyclists pose a mortal threat? A disaster waiting to happen? Yes, if you envision a Tour-de-France rally whizzing down, expecting the path to be pedestrian free. No if you are more realistic and expect the cyclists to be casual bicyclers, who respect others and ride responsibly.
So courteous and lawful behaviour is the key. A two prong approach is called for: education and enforcement. The ‘Get Wendover Cycling’ Group will help promote the former and I hope the Parish council will guide the PCSO’s to keep an eye out for the latter.
The picture is similar to the one published in the Bucks Herald. It was a really cold day and very windy but we came because showing support for cycling in Wendover in general, and to cycle paths in particular, is important to us. But cycling is not the aim. It is the mean towards several personal & environmental benefits. I will not insult your intelligence by listing them.

Monday, 31 March 2008

revision of the planning application for the development at the Princess Mary’s Hospital Site

A revision of the planning application for the development at the Princess Mary’s Hospital Site has been published ( under the same application code of 07/03446/ADP; look for documents with recent dates on them).
The highlights I picked up are;
The four story houses will be now 3.5 stories and lower by 1 meter.
Overhaul of the design and parking allocation for the MS centre.
The Cycle route along Wood lane has been redesigned. It is now alongside the road which is good news but it does not seem to follow Wood Lane all the way in nor do I find any other cycle paths marked within the development (look for CT1 and CT2 on the drawings).
The developers will contribute towards a cycle path to the John Colet and a Toucan crossing. The responsibility for the work stays BCC’s. I could not find detailed design or a the amount agreed. It could be just that I could not download much as the AVDC planning website is not stable.
The Bin/Cycle stores have been redesigned to prevent shared storage (hurrah Brian).
A detailed discussion of the merits of a two way system.

What was missing (or I could not find or download)?
Reduction in the density.
Cycle paths inside the development.
Cycle paths between the wood and the development.
A reference to the bus service or its extension into the development.
The promised diversions of the bus service at certain hours to the train station (as mentioned in the Conservatives leaflet).

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Wendover Train Station is not Accessible to All

The Wendover News editor was kind enough to place the folowing in the April edition:

If you ask for assistance to cross over to or from the far platform at our train station you will be told to travel to the next station up or down the line. Thus many are discouraged from using the train. This affects many potential commuters: wheel chair users, people with pushchairs or luggage, and cyclists. Many say they can walk (slowly) to the station but cannot negotiate the stairs. And for the fitter amongst us, a cycle friendly station will not only benefit Wendoverians but also encourage visitors to come with their cycles rather than their cars. In particular I have in mind the expected increase in visitors to Wendover Woods that worries the residence of Hale Lane who fear it would become congested. Chiltern Rail and Bucks County Council need to see there is a real demand for a solution such as a lift or a swivel bridge to justify the high expense associated. I would like to set up a campaign group dedicated to this issue. Please do consider volunteering to help. I prefer to be contacted through my email: You may call 01296 696 017 or drop a note to Acer Corner, 10 Manor Road, Wendover HP22 6HQ.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Help the Hospices

Two things caught my eye the first time I saw my to-be secondary school. It had bars on the windows and it had a proper oval running track. I was more concerned that the school looked like a prison than to think about the other feature. I did not know much about what happened at this big sports field. The bars on the windows became invisible to me as the school suited me very well thank you very much. But that time slot in the schedule marked as ‘PE’ was torture. The only time I was the head runner was when the rest of the class was on their second or third lap whilst I was pretending not to walk the first one. I hated running and my hate grew in Basic trainings and Officer’s course. Only much later did I learn I had asthma.

Thus I appreciate doubly anybody that pushes himself to running against their natural inclination, such as Tom Lloyd. Here is an email he sent me:

I am running the London Marathon on April 13th in aid of Help the Hospices. It is a really wonderful charity and you can find out more about their work at We are now about 7 weeks away and until last week the training was going well. Unfortunately I have been struck with "the bug" so am limping around a bit. I did it 2 years ago and remembered actually enjoying the training, but I'm that much older and not a lot wiser (why else go through the freezing 6 am three hour Sunday morning runs, not to mention the rest of the weeks training).

So please make me feel that it really is all worthwhile and sponsor me at . Many of you sponsered me last time, which was fantastic as we managed to raise an awesome £3000. Let's see if we can get near to it this time.

Best Wishes

Tom (Lloyd)

All I can say is ‘Don’t give up Tom’ you are a better man than me. And to you: 'Go on, help him break that £3000 target.'

Saturday, 23 February 2008

The tree savers grow up to community proactivety

Some idiot wants to cut down the trees on Aylesbury Road!

Did that put your back up? A similar case got my mother campaigning many years ago – the Tel-Aviv city hall wanted to widen King George Street. I think I was about six or seven when she put a petition in my hand: “Get as many signatures as you can”. The truth is that I did not appreciate what it was all about and I was annoyed I could not stay at home and read. Those trees were planted almost together with the corner stone for Tel-Aviv and they are still there, but for one that was killed by a terrorist bomb alongside several men, women and children.

It seems very British to get all worked up about saving trees. In fact that is probably the issue that got most community activist going in the first place. Holding back the chain saw hanging over the Aylesbury Road trees was the community spark the resulted in the Wendover Society in 1965.

The Society had its AGM yesterday. The guest speaker discussed another community body: The Wendover Community Trust. Both organizations have done lots of good and continue doing so. I went to the AGM mainly as a show of support. I admit I was also curios to hear about the proposed constitution as the Wendover Cycling Group (temporary name) is grappling with its own.

I did notice the same names being mentioned in connection to different organizations. This was accentuated by the fact that there was no new face nor any change in office proposed at the AGM. Don’t get me wrong. Well done to them all. Most of the people in question did a very good job up to now and I expect they will carry on in the same positive spirit. I just want to point out that there is this clique of people who are doing a lot for Wendover, fighting our corner, propping up those who need support and doing good in general. And you’ll encounter almost the same faces in what ever meeting you go to. I suppose that this has something to do with the fact that most people are just engrossed in the fight to keep their head above the white rapids of life.

Once you volunteer your sense of responsibility is awakened. It feeds on your activities and drives you on to more in an ever strengthening feedback cycle. You start noticing things. You start caring. And worse of all, each time you hear of a position that is not filled YOU feel guilty for not putting your name done or worse you say you will do it even if you are over committed. I never realized this before. I have now more respect than ever for these unsung community heroes, but it would be nice to see more new faces. Not only to spread out the burden but also to introduce novel ideas and approaches. Naturally I would prefer if they were not conservative (with and without capitalization). For now I count myself as a new face.

To end in a positive note: I have put myself forward for the elections for parent governors at the John Hampden. I was delighted to here that six parents are ‘fighting’ for the two open positions. That bodes very well for our community.

By the way, check out the new Wendover Society website or even better take part in the discussions in the forum.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Darwin Day - 12th of February

I had this published in the Wendover News. As I got surprisingly very good feedback I repeat it hear. Yes, I expect that some of the peopel I met yeasterday might check my blog to see some Humanist related discussion:

There are two great men’s birthdays I religiously mark. The 25th of December and the 12th of February. On 12 February 1809 two great men were born: Abraham Lincoln, emancipator of American slaves, and Charles Darwin, emancipator of the human mind. Their positive legacies still endure. This date is celebrated around the world under different names of which one is Darwin Day (google it - there is much to learn about it). It is an opportunity to remember and celebrate the achievements of free thinking. It is an occasion to tell our children about the courage it takes to think beyond the dictate of “common agreement”. Like Abraham in the Old Testament, who could not accept the logic of idol worshipping and did not bow to group pressure or Galileo Galilei, who was convicted of grave suspicion of heresy for "following the position of Copernicus, which is contrary to the true sense and authority of Holy Scripture,". Another important aspect of Darwin Day is the promotion of learning and scientific thinking. It is a lesson Jews have had reinforced each time they had to leave their abode (the list is long): it is easy to loose your house and wealth, but good education will always help you maintain your humanity and help you get back on your feet. And without scientific rigour there is no proper progress of learning. Thus it is easy to understand why I choose to mark the 25th of December as it is Sir Isaac Newton’s birthday.
Dr. Eli Y. Kling a Humanist

Thursday, 14 February 2008

(No) Planning for Cycling at the Princess Mary Hospital Development

{taken form the AVDC planning website; the 'Gree Roots' here are not what you think}

Here is the major part of a very good response to the PMH planning application written by Brian Bostock. This is a very detailed and constructive review of the all important but always overlooked aspect of sustainable routs.

Nowhere in the text of this document (he is talking about the 'Transport Statment') can I find any reference to the needs of cyclists. This seems remiss bearing in mind the need to minimise local car journeys.
Whilst the various supporting drawings show footpath/cycleways it is not obvious how these link up to get cyclists to the High Street and local schools. For example there is a footway/cycleway in Babington Road that ends before the B4009. Where are cyclists meant to go from here? Another example is on drawing 2005/0584/014 Proposed Junction Improvement. On the north side of the new roundabout, there is a statement ”Proposed footway/cycleway to tie in with the existing”. To tie in with the existing what? There is no existing footway/cycleway on this side of the road, only a narrow footway. If this is to be upgraded to dual use it will have to be widened down to the existing toucan crossing near Wharf Road and along to the school in Halton. On the Wendover side of the mini roundabout there is a similar statement that raises the same question. At present there is no cycle path beyond where the new mini roundabout is to be constructed. At this point cyclists are instructed to rejoin the Tring Road.

I believe the architects should have produced a plan showing just the cycle routes so that it would be possible to see how the various parts fit together in a way that will encourage people to cycle into Wendover and to local schools. Perhaps developers attention should be brought AVD Local Plan, Chapter 4, General Policy 27 that requires developers to provide facilities that will encourage cycling .

On page 19 of the Transport Statement para 6.36 states “consider new and existing streets as 20mph zone” BCC Cycling Policy states that traffic calming is the second choice in a hierarchy of schemes to encourage cycling. Bearing this in mind 20 mph speed limit should be made mandatory.

Plan09 shows Footpath 24 passing through the development and Footpath 13 passing just above it. If the status of these footpaths was altered to allow cycling then this will give cyclists better access into the centre of Wendover and provide an alternative to the current design that seems to require them to travel down to the new roundabouts and then dismount to cross the road. The change of use would also give improved access to cycle routes in Wendover Woods

Drawing 2005/0584/030. shows a short length of cycleway 1m. wide. If the whole site was made a 20mph zone this short section of cycleway would not be necessary. Also there is a footway/cycleway running along-side, so this bit of onroad cycle path seems unnecessary.

Several drawings show areas labelled BS/CS, signifying Bin Store/Cycle Store.
Safe cycle storage requires a secure structure allocated to an individual property otherwise the designated areas will not be fit for the intended purpose.

If you agree that it would be valuable to get a cycle route plan from the architects prior to AVDC making a final decision in earlier April perhaps it would be possible for members of the newly formed Wendover/Halton cycling group to meet with yourselves to inject the experience of local cyclists into the plan. This would put into practice the liaison with local cycling groups as outlined in BCC 's Cycling Policy. Your comments on this proposal would be appreciated.