This is what you have been writing to us about this week.
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Please note, any letters sent to the Bucks Free Press office are only being picked up periodically as all staff are still working from home.
LETTER OF THE WEEK: Remembering lost loved ones over festive period
There has been a lot of discussion but, even as our lives are curtailed by another lockdown, I don’t think Christmas 2020 will be cancelled.
In fact, we will need the light and love that Christmas brings more than ever after this tumultuous year.
I am writing to invite your readers to join me for The Hospice of St Francis’ virtual Light up a Life event on Sunday, December 6 at 4.30pm. Everyone is welcome, regardless of whether you have a hospice connection.
We will be uniting virtually as a community through inspiring music from local young people and comforting words; pausing to light a candle to remember loved ones and our heroic key workers in this short half hour reflection.
If you would like to dedicate a star to a special person to be featured online and on the Hospice’s tree of stars, or watch the virtual event, please visit – stfrancis.org.uk/lual or call 01442 869550.
The Hospice of St Francis has continued to be sustained by your ongoing support. For this we thank you.
We hope to see you at Light up a Life but, if you can’t be with us, may every blessing be on you and your family this wintertime.
Pru Murray, Hospice of St Francis
‘Is High Wycombe now ‘Aldi town’?’
So, we are to have a third Aldi supermarket in High Wycombe. Aren’t we lucky.
Bicester is known as Tesco Town because of the number of these particular stores in the area. Can we now call High Wycombe Aldi Town? Are we so lacking in our choice of supermarkets that we need yet another one?
Originally we just had Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Safeway. Now we have, Sainsburys, Morrisons, Asda, Waitrose, Iceland, two Large Tescos, two Lidl’s and soon three Aldis, plus yet another McDonald’s adding to the two already in our town.
With this new Aldi opening in Cressex and a new Tesco Express due in Hazlemere, aren’t we getting slightly over populated with these supermarkets?
We used to be called a furniture town. Now we seem to be advertising ourselves as a supermarket town.
Michael Curry, Penn
Change negative perception of town
Eight months ago, Buckinghamshire Council took over from Wycombe District Council. In that time, the world has changed due to Covid-19. Shops, gyms, office spaces and leisure venues have been wounded; many may close forever.
There’s also been an unprecedented shift in city dwellers seeking to move to the shires in search of a garden, fresh air and more space at home in which to set up a home office.
The latter might help fix the former, if we play our cards right.
High Wycombe town centre has long been good for most shopping needs, more so since Eden arrived in 2008, and HWBIDCo has done a great job to dress and promote the town, especially in the last two years.
Thanks to the council, there are welcome physical improvements currently being made to the road surface in the High Street.
In last week’s edition of this paper, we were told that the historic Brunel Train Shed will be renovated at a cost of £4m. We were also told more about the renovation of historic 2/3 High Street, and that the new Centre Square development is tipped for an architectural award.
So why doesn’t any of this make a difference to people’s perception of the town?
Despite these worthy projects, it’s hard to shift negative perceptions – and grab those London exiles to come and live and spend their money here – unless you do something really attention grabbing, and then shout loud from the treetops about it. I believe the answer lies beneath our feet.
Let’s give those new London exiles what they want – fresh air, nature and an historic river that’s been consigned to a concrete tunnel for too long. We townsfolk want it too.
The High Wycombe Society has long supported the deculverting of the river Wye. The confluence of the river and the roads facilitated trade, milling of paper and flour, furniture and other successful industries. In short, it’s the reason that the town exists at all.
Martin Tett and his new council could prove their mettle on this issue. Since the controversial burying of the river in 1967, no council leader has proved capable of bringing it back to the surface.
No town with a waterway would think for one minute of hiding it underground these days; it would be too damaging to the fundamental appeal of the place which is the single biggest reason that people are drawn to a place to live and spend their money on local shops, restaurants and other businesses.
We are all attracted to nature and beauty.
Heather Morley, High Wycombe
‘Can council deliver on climate action promise?’
In July, Buckinghamshire Council, under your leadership, committed to taking meaningful action on climate change, and to produce a Strategy and Action Plan by February 2021.
At a council committee meeting on November 12, the results of a survey of Bucks residents were published, showing that 95% were concerned or very concerned about climate change.
Yet at that same meeting, one of your cabinet team announced a surprise delay in the production of the promised strategy, and a planned public consultation on a draft was pulled at the last minute.
No proper explanation was given for the delay, no indication of a revised timetable, and no summary of the emerging thinking.
We recognise that producing and implementing a comprehensive strategy is not a quick or easy task, and we remain ever ready to work constructively with you to help achieve this.
But where is the necessary sense of urgency and purpose? And where is the evidence of actions being taken now to address the climate emergency, actions that do not need and cannot wait for a ‘perfect’ strategy to arrive?
The situation demands that consideration of climate change impacts has, without delay, to be a key factor in all decision-making across all council functions and all policy areas.
This is not about spending money we haven’t got – it is about HOW we spend the money, about investment now for a better and less costly future. And one without runaway climate change.
Please, Cllr. Tett, demonstrate to the 95% that your council is serious about delivering on your climate action promise.
Mike Chadwick, Coordinator, Bucks Climate Action Alliance
PM’s Green Industrial Revolution plan welcome
The Prime Minister’s ten-point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution is most welcome. It follows on from his speech in October and we have received many hints that it was imminent.
The plan rightly focusses upon the need to harness the talents of British enterprise, to nurture the skills of its workforce and to affirm the drive and innovation of English regions and Scotland and Wales.
However, I am a little concerned at no specific reference to solar PV power. You could read behind the lines and anticipate that plans to ‘make homes, schools and hospitals greener’ could implicitly mean solar power is utilised.
Further, the ‘task force net zero’ might well develop detailed plans that are inclusive of solar. Neither is there a mention of offshore wind.
The public recognise the importance of solar power, in recent polling commissioned from the Bright Blue think-tank, stated that ‘A majority of the public thinks that we need to use more solar (72%), wind (69%), tidal (64%) and hydro (62%) energy to achieve net zero’.
I would also add that the recent IEA report, ‘World Energy Outlook 2020’ clearly inferred that solar power has an instrumental role in the future generation of electricity.
Thus, I am a little perplexed as to why the significant potential for developing solar power appears to have dropped off government’s radar?
With the long-awaited Energy White Paper, a potential revision of the Industrial Strategy and next year’s Cop26 on our shores the UK still has an opportunity to show the scale of its ambition both home and abroad.
Just as the original Industrial Revolution was diverse in its composition, a genuine ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ will be characterised by all forms of clean energy; be it solar, offshore wind, carbon capture and storage or wave and tidal energy.
Yet their potential needs to be capitalised upon and explicit government support is crucial.
The stakes are too high and the opportunities too pressing for us not to rise to this challenge.
The ten-point plan has much to commend it but it also begs some questions.
Andrew Moore, CEO, UKSOL Ltd, Gerrards Cross
How was school dome built without permission?
I was pleased to see in the November 20 BFP that Buckinghamshire Council has refused planning consent for the large dome at Holmer Green Senior School – but can anyone explain how the situation arose?
So far as I know Buckinghamshire Council own the school and Buckinghamshire Council is the planning authority.
Surely the school is required to ask the council before embarking on such a project. Something does not add up.
Name and address withheld
Help raise money for kids in hospital
Over 12,000 children are admitted to hospital every day in the UK and it has never been a scarier time for them.
With unfamiliar wards, health professionals in additional PPE, only being able to have one parent with them, and no visits from their brothers or sisters during the pandemic, it can be very worrying and lonely.
That is why play and distraction services in hospitals are now more vital than ever.
Having access to toys and entertainment, when recovering or waiting for treatment, or using play as a distraction for procedures can help to alleviate pain, aid recovery and bring joy back into children’s lives.
At the children’s charity Starlight, thanks to our supporters, we provide hospitals with boxes, filled with toys, games and puzzles to be used on wards.
This year, Starlight’s fundraising income has fallen due to many cancelled events, which is why we have started our Time to Play campaign.
Our goal is to raise £300,000 before the end of the year to help 30,000 children get access to play in hospital and limit the negative effects of illness on their childhood.
It’s easy to support and our website has fun ideas of how to take part, including our Stream for Starlight fundraiser for computer gamers.
Or if you are able to, please considering making a simple one-off donation. However big or small, it will help Starlight to continue to be there to support children and their families this Christmas.
I’m hoping readers will join together and help support Starlight, to bring back joy into the lives of the 98,000 seriously ill children living in the UK’s lives this Christmas.
Visit www.starlight.org.uk/time to help.
Cathy Gilman, CEO, Starlight Children’s Foundation
‘Empty’ climate change promises?
Your report on a planned £4.4m project for a new Aldi and drive-through McDonald’s at Cressex Island in High Wycombe (Bucks Free Press, November 20, 2020, pages one and four) illustrates once again the lack of joined-up thinking in Buckinghamshire Council.
How can the council claim, on one hand, to be serious about their commitment to addressing carbon emissions and poor air quality in a promised climate change and Air Quality Strategy, while at the same time be actively facilitating and funding a drive-through restaurant adjacent to one of the most polluted areas of High Wycombe?
Should we not, therefore, assume that their recent announcement of a delay in the strategy actually signals that they have no intention of going beyond rhetoric and empty promises?
Steve Morton, Wycombe Friends of the Earth
EU Commission’s staff discipline procedure is better
While Sir Alex Allan resigns and Home Secretary Priti Patel stays in her post, the European Commission’s staff disciplinary procedure seems to work better.
In 2019, four lost their jobs. Four got reprimands after initial warnings failed. A retired official’s net retirement pension was cut by half for breaking national laws outside of work including illegal possession of arms.
The 2019 report of the Investigation and Disciplinary Office of the Commission (IDOC) has been published.
IDOC covers the European Commission itself. It covers the agencies that work directly for the Commission, such as the Joint Research Centre’s scientific testing labs.
It also deals with the European External Action Service, which is like a diplomatic service.
The European Union’s Staff Regulations have been published. For example, Commission staff are not allowed to comment publicly on their work while they are employed.
Nor are Commission staff allowed to take instructions from anyone outside of the Commission.
Phil Jones, European Movement UK