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Chairman's Report - December 2019
It was with great sadness that I learnt of the death of our Vice President Don Grattan in August. His was a distinguished career and I have placed tributes to him on our web site. His contribution to education was great and after retiring and moving to Marlow he enthusiastically took up cudgels on behalf of the Society. I represented the Society at his funeral.
After consulting your Committee I recommended to our President, Sir Keith Stuart, that he should invite Janet Smith to become a Vice President of the Society. I was delighted to learn of her acceptance. Janet comes from a longstanding Marlow family. Her knowledge of Marlow history and its inhabitants is legion. She presents her local history research to a wide audience and is a cornucopia of detailed information on which I regularly depend.
To my surprise I received a letter from our then Member of Parliament, Dominic Grieve, at the beginning of November. The second surprise was that he had read the Chairman's Report in our last newsletter on the subject of the absence of a bus service between Marlow and the Handy Cross interchange and sports centre. He subsequently wrote to Arriva to see if there was an interest is establishing a link and was told that Arriva is reviewing the commercial viability of operating a service and are discussing with the Local Authority to see if any financial assistance was forthcoming.
I will now have to wait to see if our next MP takes a similar interest in Marlow!
On the Friday before Remembrance Day I was selling poppies at the rear of Sainsbury's. Within one hour I asked six drivers parked on the double yellow lines to turn off their engines pointing out that I did not wish to breath in the pollution they were creating. All complied, some with a touch of bewilderment. At the same time many young students were passing and all were exposed to unnecessary pollution. The adverse effects of pollution on young lungs has been clearly established, but did these drivers and all the others who do the same thing ever day actually care?
The Cadent Gas Company parked two lorries at the junction of Spittal St and the Little Marlow Road last week. The set up temporary traffic lights and soon you could not see the end of the queues. I walked back from Foxes Piece to see that the 100 yards or so of cars in the queue were all running their engines. As I reached the lights I saw a Cadent van parked on the verge with its engine running. I went to speak with the driver who removed a full face mask with an air filter before he responded. I suggested that it was somewhat anomalous that he should be wearing full breathing protection whilst generating unnecessary pollution. He turned off his engine. We can all do the same. Please read the separate article on the Marlow AQMA on page 13.
The Environment Agency seems to have completed its programme of flooding prevention measures. The Gossmore playing field is now green. In spite of recent rain there does not appear to have been any flooding. The Bisham Brook has been cleared by the EA, a long sought improvement. Let us hope that the money was well spent.
We have established a useful relationship with the Trustees of the Riley Park Trust. The whole town should support this voluntarily run vital green space in our town centre. Mary and Tony Shannon played a vital role for many years in ensuring its continuance and I thank them for all they have done as the baton passes to the new trustees.
As I am in a good mood I must also remember to thank the Parish, Town, District and County Councillors who collaborate so well with the Society. The role of a Councillor can be an unpopular and taxing one. I appreciate the time that they give freely in ensuring the social and local organisation of our community is effected within the many constraints placed upon it.
The Bucks Council Shadow Authority has issued a strategy paper outlining its Regeneration Strategy for High Wycombe, Princes Risborough and Marlow. Search for this title or use the link below. This is a strategy which, when fully developed will impact on us all. The Society will be monitoring its progress but I strongly urge you to take a look at the Marlow section if nothing else. Read about its "Protect and Preserve" policies. If we do not influence our future someone else will.
Regeneration Stategy HW, PR, Marlow Nov2019 (.pdf 8Mb)
The replacement of the pavement in Spittal Street has been a major disappointment. Clearly it is not fit for purpose. The work was funded by Sorbon Estates. I have been advised that the County Council which must signing-off the work is refusing to do so. Negotiation is taking place between WDC, County and Sorbon's contractors. Meanwhile I suggest that you jump over the cracks to avoid bad luck.
The change of the Local Authority structure creating the new Buckinghamshire Council should result in a devolution of responsibility and finance to our own Town and other Parish Councils. Local democracy will be better served that way. The creation of Bucks Council “local hubs” may well ensure that power is retained centrally. I will continue to urge for more local accountability.
Our Local History Group has published a comprehensive programme of talks and walks for 2020. Please join us at one of the talks and find out the hidden stories about our historic town from one of the organised walks. Thanks are due to Keith Ray for chairing the History Group and Geoff Wood for organising the walks.
The enthusiastic promotion of our Society at the Marlow Carnival resulted is a long list of new members. I welcome you all and hope that you will be able to participate in our activities during 2020.
As December will have begun before this Newsletter reaches you may I wish to all the Marlow Society's members a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous, healthy and safe New Year. Your Society will do its best to Protect and Preserve the town and its surrounding parishes. Please support us and keep in touch.