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Chairman's Report - July 2019
Sunshine today, rain tomorrow. I hope that you are enjoying a typical English summer, albeit one where record temperatures test the constitution. The soil at my allotment had become exceedingly dry so for me the downpours have been most welcome. The cropping of most items has turned out well. We are self-sufficient in a wide range of vegetables and look forward to a bumper fruit crop.
Additions to the flower border have resulted in a significant increase in the bee visitors and hedgehogs are prospering in the gardens hereabout. We can all contribute to enhancing our environment not least by supporting Cllr Jocelyn Towns' new initiative to engage residents in determining ways of improving their surroundings as well as reducing the impact of cars and waste. We have a town envied by many and it is up to us to keep it that way.
The last briefing from the Bucks County Council told us that sensors had been fitted to the bridge that would measure the width and height of vehicles passing through the bollards. I understood this would be linked to a record of each vehicle's identity. From this I understand that an analysis of results will provide the necessary data to enable the design of replacement bollards to be optimised. I hope that it will provide the data necessary to persuade the authorities to reset the weight limits and width restriction to the benefit of local drivers whilst ensuring the very necessary protection we have been seeking for far too long.
Out of the blue we recently received a gift of one hundred and ten 35 mm slides taken during the rebuilding of the bridge in 1965/6. I have digitised them and a selected number will illustrate a talk that I will be giving on 19 August. Janet Smith will lead on research into the remaining evidence of medieval Marlow. Adam Baxter will explore the impact of the coming of the railway to the town. See page 18 for details of this LHG event.
Parking remains contentious. We can take comfort from the way that parking in our town centre seems to meet the needs of short stay visitors. The failure over the last 20 years to plan to mitigate the overall demand for parking, particularly the failure to provide additional spaces for incoming workers, has resulted in the free-for-all that currently exists in all residential areas.
The rejection on appeal at Planning Inspectorate of WDC's original refusal decision will now permit a development at the rear of 7 High Street (accessed via Liston Road). This development will result in the loss of on-site parking and the displacement of the need onto surrounding streets.
This situation has led to an exchange of correspondence with Cllr David Johncock, the WDC Cabinet Member for Planning & Sustainability. It has revealed the gulf between aspiration and reality. Local authorities are encouraged to endorse car free sustainable development based on the assumption that public transport can meet the commuter need. But a short visit to Globe Park shows the failure of that approach. The BCC Parking Guidance Documentation, published in 2014 and adopted in 2015 following lengthy consultation, is the current baseline. This fails totally to protect the town from an ever increasing demand for central parking as a result of approved commercial development. Numbers 7-9 West Street are currently being rebuilt to provide office accommodation with up to 55 workspaces according to the published drawings. No parking provision was required for this change of use - in accordance with the BCC guidance.
Cllr Johncock, who certainly has my sympathy has said ".. we will be reviewing the Parking Guide is due course and this will consider whether there needs to be a formal change in policy. However, this is not a piece of work that we can undertake prior to becoming a Unitary and, indeed, there is logic in waiting until then so that we do create a genuine Unitary-wide standard." So don't hold your breath!
My thanks go to David Putnam for his thorough analysis of this issue which has helped to inform our arguments.
A big "Thank You" goes to our Town Council for funding and contracting the recent refurbishment of our iconic Frohman Statue. Age takes its toll and the location of the statue inevitably results in accelerated wear and tear. I believe that we should keep it in place for as long as economically possible.
Wiltshire Road Roundabout
Another pat on the back for the MTC is fully deserved. The embellishment of the Wiltshire Road roundabout with hanging baskets and flower troughs has greatly enhanced this gateway into our town. Strangely Bucks CC receives and retains the revenue from the advertising on the roundabout. We pay from MTC’s council tax for the flowers.
Handy Cross by Bus?
The impending closure of the Waitrose Shop in Marlow will inevitably lead to more cars driving to Handy Cross in order for their owners to purchase 'Waitrose Essentials'. They cannot get there by bus, the sustainable option. None of us can travel by public transport to the Handy Cross coach interchange, the Sports Complex or to High Wycombe Railway Station. The planned 150 bed hotel will also be inaccessible without a car.
Do you agree with me that it is about time that Handy Cross was linked to Marlow by bus? Did those originally planning the redevelopment of Handy Cross envisage it as an island accessible only by car?
The Society will have a stand at the Marlow Community Association’s Carnival on Saturday 21 September. Please support this event and drop by to talk with the team about all the issues in which the Society takes a part.
Patricia Burstall Memorial
I was very pleased to learn that a permanent memorial to Patricia Burstall has been fully funded by public subscription. The memorial is to be installed, most appropriately, in All Saints Church, Bisham.