From the River Wye to expensive theatre treats, this is what you have been writing to us about this week.
If you would like to write us a letter, email email@example.com or write to Letters Editor, Bucks Free Press, Loudwater Mill, Station Road, Loudwater, HP10 9TY.
Domestic abuse bill is crucial
Last Thursday, the Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill passed its Second Reading in the Commons, meaning it is now one step closer to becoming law.
My understanding of the Bill is that it seeks to create a statutory definition for domestic abuse, strengthen protection for victims of abuse, and prevent individuals from potentially abusive situations. Having personally dealt with the human consequences of domestic abuse cases as a lawyer, this Bill is a breakthrough in combating domestic abuse in the 21st century.
The updated definition of domestic abuse recognises that abuse can take many different forms beyond physical abuse, including psychological, physical, sexual, economic and emotional. This is crucial as it will help more victims and the courts recognise the dehumanising and manipulative nature of abuse which at the end of the day boils down to a matter of control for the abuser.
In reflection, we as a community should also recognise that, far beyond the television trope of “drunken man beats wife”. Domestic abuse is a scourge that affects men, women, children, and people in same-sex relationships, and that we should come together for the victims in their time of need.
Whilst our scope as local councillors is limited, my colleagues and I will offer whatever assistance that is within our capacity to help with domestic abuse. I would also encourage those living in the shadow of abuse to take action by calling the police, the National Domestic Violence Helpline (0808 200 0247) or the Men’s Advice Line (0808 801 0327). There are also charities in our area that accommodates victims in different kinds of circumstances.
I am pleased by the progress that we as a country have made and hope that the Bill will soon find its way to our statue books.
Jackson Ng, Beaconsfield Town Council
A plea ahead of new unitary council
No doubt the Shadow Board which is making all the arrangements for the creation of the new Unitary Authority next year will be considering the remuneration levels that should be set for the Councillors who will be voted in next May.
When the County Council was pressing their case for a single Unitary Authority they made a great play about reducing drastically the number of Councillors who would be required to run it. Unfortunately Mr Brokenshire, the Minister responsible, did not agree and approved far higher numbers.
As obviously the workload will be correspondingly less than planned may I make a plea through your newspaper that the Shadow Board takes the aggregate sum of all the remuneration received by the councillors, cabinet members, committee chairmen and their deputies in the existing councils, reduces it by 25 per cent in order to come up with the total remuneration to be shared out in the new Unitary.
In this way there will be some saving in the operational expense of the new Authority and some saving for the hard-pressed taxpayers of Buckinghamshire.
Roger Colomb, address withheld
What will happen to library after unitary?
The news that the old library in High Wycombe is finally to be put to some use shows clearly what is wrong with local politics (‘Work on old library gets underway’, BFP October 4.) The old building has been slowly deteriorating since 2008 when the new library opened. Bucks CC left the building to rot whilst they dithered and did nothing for a decade. Suddenly it is to become a new office centre for social workers. At what cost?
Did no-one in County Hall spot that first Sajid Javid and then James Brokenshire had agreed on the unification project, that the enabling legislation became law, and so Bucks CC would be terminated on March 31 2020?
Why did our councillors agree to start and fund such an expensive refurbishment when it might never be finished?
Did no-one at Aylesbury also notice that the national government has “paused” HS2 in an attempt to postpone a decision until after the next general election. Our county councillors could have followed this example and shelved this refurbishment until the new unified authority was in place. The new authority could then prepare a scheme relevant to changed circumstances. It is not compulsory for our councillors to spend taxpayers’ money? Why the rush after ten years of deliberate neglect?
Would any of our county councillors care to explain how they know this site will ever be used for any activity of the new unified authority after April 1st 2020?
Andrew Barrow, Hazlemere
Theatre refreshments are pricey
I went to the Swan Theatre last week to see Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat. It was brilliant – but in the interval I bought my friend and myself an ice cream – it was £4.20 for one. I could not believe it and I would like to know how the Swan can possibly charge such a disgraceful price. I feel very sorry for those with families, you need to have a lot of money (the seats were not cheap) to go to the theatre. I, for one, won’t be buying an ice cream anymore.
Name and address withheld
Big success for youth centre
Eastside youth centre was judged as the Youth Organisation of the Year at the big night out organised by Action 4 Youth held at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury held in September.
The main of the reasons for the award was roles that young people play at the centre of running the tuck shop, supervising activities and befriending new members and helping them settle in.
Also having five young people complete the A4Y Young Leaders Award and being one of the very few clubs where 95% of the membership between the ages of 13-17 years also helped towards the award. The club sessions Wednesday and Friday attract over 45+ attendance.
We also have plans for another evening for younger children on Mondays.
From 1965 to date East Side Youth Club has operated from its current location on the site of the Highcrest Academy providing the young people of East. We help encourage, inspire and support their personal development and encourage them to be aware of their rights and responsibilities not only to themselves but to the wider community.
The centre has also provided a meeting place for other charities involved with young people, currently Bucks Young Carers and Wycombe Youth Action on a regular basis, with other groups hiring the centre occasionally.
In 2012 the centre was on the brink of closure as a result of Bucks County Council changes to Youth Provision. It was then that a local group of volunteers came together, formed a charity and successfully bid to take the club over and keep it open for the community.
We are proud that since then we have managed to run the centre at a fraction of the previous cost while keeping the doors open for longer. BCC granted us funds initially to run for an estimated five years.
We have managed to stretch this and have received financial help for projects over the last couple of years from Wycombe District Council, Heart of Bucks and the National Lottery small grants fund.
Having just been awarded “Bucks Youth Organisation of the Year” by Action4Youth, we are more determined than ever to keep the centre going. We are always looking for funding support and volunteers from the community to help take the youth centre forward to next decade. All at the East Side Youth club would like to thank you in advance for your support; if you would like to know more about what we do or indeed visit us please do not hesitate to contact the chair on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lakshan Wanigasooriya, Chairman, East Side Youth Centre
An open letter to WDC about the Wye
Fundamentally, High Wycombe is a river town. Our river brought, or enabled, all the significant reasons why our town exists at all. And yet it is buried underground for the key town centre section between Westbourne Street and the Police Station. Every other village, town or city in this country that has a river, treasures it and capitalises on its appeal. It’s a travesty that we don’t. The opportunity to bring back the river was lost when Eden was built a decade ago. And we fear that the same thing will happen now, as all attention is fixed on the move to a Unitary Authority, with its bigger concerns, next spring.
Your own WDC Local Plan, only just adopted by your council in August of this year, after an extensive Public Examination by a senior Planning Inspector who declared it “sound”, states on page 91: “Secure further environmental enhancements to the River Wye and Hughenden stream corridors including opening them up”. Then again on page 92: “Make significant improvements to the quality of the town centre by rerouting traffic and ‘opening’ up the River Wye”.
You have adopted a plan that states categorically that you will open up the river. When?
We are a town-wide society that includes members who live in the town, who care deeply enough about the heritage and current/future state of the town that we get involved in many aspects of how the council looks after it. In our fifty-year history, we have rarely cared more about an issue than de-culverting the Wye.
Earlier this year we launched a Facebook campaign amongst our members and the wider public, to generate interest in this subject. Posts covered aspects such as:
• It’s an historic river town so let’s show it
• It brought or enabled all the things in our illustrious history - the town’s narrative is told through the river’s story
• It’s our money and our town, and we want our river back
• This is a rare chalk stream - treasure it!
• Nature - trees - water - etc are good for the soul and for our health (air quality, mental health, etc)
• Every other town/village/city with a river cherishes it and capitalises on its appeal
• Make the town beautiful and people will look after it better. The converse is also true (the broken windows theory)
• To effect regeneration, what we need is a game changer, not just a minor cosmetic update
• Retail is really tough right now so you either innovate or die. This helps Eden as much as anywhere else in the town centre
• Riverside Cafe Culture would make people think differently (and much more positively) about the town as a whole
Our intermittent Facebook posts in January/February and again in June attracted many Likes, Loves, Shares and Comments (585 in total so far) and were picked up by the Bucks Free Press. This is a subject that we feel very strongly about, and there are scores of other local residents who feel the same way.
There have been suggestions that the section between Westbourne Street and Sainsburys could be left underground, and that the stretch in front of Sainsburys up to the Oxford Road/M&S roundabout could simply be a shallow rill, as a nod to the river beneath. We are not remotely convinced by this alternative. This section, attractive in itself, can be enhanced by a dramatic remodelling of the Oxford Road/M&S roundabout. We re-iterate that High Wycombe is a river town; not a ‘rill town’. Second best isn’t good enough for Marlow, Amersham or Beaconsfield, so why would it be good enough for High Wycombe?
We now urge you to make a commitment to raising the River Wye - our precious River Wye. We understand that it may take longer to make it happen, due to the transition to the new Buckinghamshire Council. But please let this be your legacy, as you hand the reins over, that you do the right thing and ensure that it’s a priority within a five-year period.
Tony Hatton, on behalf of the trustees and members of the High Wycombe Society