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.