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 http://www.helpthehospices.org.uk/. 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
www.justgiving.co.uk/tomlloyd . 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.

Monday, 11 February 2008

One small step for us – one big thank you to Chris

Sunday Morning. Lovely weather. No strike that. Wonderful weather. A perfect time to reduce the height of the leaflets mountain. My daughter saw my glance at breakfast, read my mind and stated: “I want to stay with Mummy”. She-who-must-be-obeyed declared “it would do the child good to be in the fresh air with her Dad.” I promised here it was just leafleting as I know she gets even more board when I canvas. In any case Sunday mornings are not a good time for canvassing. I started cold-canvassing on the back of the current Focus leaflets and last week was very chilly so we both caught a cold. She had it really bad. I allowed here to bring along here scooter as a diversion. I am not sure whether it was not a cunning plan to ensure she would not be able to help me push the material through the letter boxes. Last year she loved it, and begged to do it. What a year can do to a child. She even did not want to sit on my lap at the Panto.

Halfway through the ‘walk’ we cam across a man washing his car.

“Here you go.”
“What is it about?” not even putting a hand to accept it.
“Liberal Democrats” – that was a mistake. I should have said “Princess Mary’s Development” or “Local Issues”. But hay, I am no slick politician.
“Not interested”
“OK, Shame you do not even glance at it, have a nice day” (Well I have to paraphrase as I can’t remember word for word. I generally back off from antagonistic time wasters.)
“They are all the same: liars cheats and corrupt” – again this is the spirit of his abuse.
“If you feel that way, Do something about it. Volunteer. Stand for elections”
“I am doing something! I’m telling you!”


This kind of people really annoys me. They complain and assume the worst about everybody. Well it takes one to know one, is what I say. I believe that the lion’s share of people who get involved in politics at all levers do so to make a positive change. Yes, this holds also to my esteemed competitors, the Wendover Conservatives. I do not question their motives and I respect them for the time and effort they put into promoting Wendover’s cause. Not always successfully though.

It takes a lot of stamina to get anything that is out of the ordinary done. I understand that it took about eight years of campaigning to get the cycle path along Aylesbury Road. So the people who toile for no reward deserve to be thanked not abused by lazy ignorant buffoons who do not realize that they pose a real danger to democracy.

Take for example Chris Peeler who took on a seemingly trivial task during his term as Parish Councillor. Even tough he is no longer on the PC he kept pushing and smoothing bumps on the way, ensuring it happens. It took three years to get the tread to the door of Stars on the Manor Waste. It’s installation last week is wonderful news for all those who found the step into the store too high for comfort or even unnegotiable.

Well done Chris!

That accomplished, the next issue on the ‘ease of accessibility’ is loftier: there should be an easy access to the far platform at the train station. So old people, people on wheel chairs, people with pushchairs or suit cases, and cyclists could cross the rail-tracks with ease and safety. Only the young and fit do not mind climbing up and down the bridge.