Over recent weeks my good self has been following events in American and the outcome of the Presidential elections.
Now you are probably wondering what the events so far away in the USA could have in common with good old High Wycombe?
Well, the candidate who became President fought the election under the slogan ‘Let’s make America Great again‘, a slogan which was first used in the 1980’s by Ronald Regan.
In my opinion it’s not only America that’s down on its luck and needs making great again, surely Wycombe needs to be made great again too? By ‘great’ I mean a great place to live and with a thriving local economy too.
So how do we make Wycombe great again?
Well, here are my thoughts.
1. Restore a sense of community and reward those who helped build Wycombe.
Over the years the sense of community spirit has disappeared from suburbs of the town. Long standing residents have moved out and houses turned into rented houses occupied by those who will only be in residence for a few weeks or months.
I propose that the true people of Wycombe be rewarded for what they have done to help build the town with encouragement to stay in residence in the town rather than moving out.
If someone, or their direct family, has lived in a house for fifty consecutive years they should be exempt from paying Council Tax. They should also get free parking in the town centre car parks and complimentary tickets to the local theatre and other local attractions.
2. Take control of the bin collections
The residents of Wycombe only have their black bins emptied once every fortnight through a scheme administered by an authority outside Wycombe.
At the moment a commercial contractor runs the bin collection service, they obviously make a profit on the operation.
Instead of giving privateers the opportunity to make money from municipal services surely the bin collections should be organised by the municipal authority themselves with workers under their direct control? That way there would be no money wasted on the ‘profit element’ and perhaps we could have weekly black bin collections restored?
3. Take control of the social housing
Once upon a time, as their name suggests, the Council houses were owned and operated by the local Council.
A rush to devolve the housing stock to ‘housing associations’ has taken place, this was in my opinion a bad idea.
Surely the social housing should be controlled centrally so things can be kept in check? Social housing should be run by the state not third party organisations who are, in my opinion, one step too many away from public accountability.
4. Stop daft development schemes
Over the years Wycombe has seen many new ‘flagship’ developments take place such as shopping centres, coach parks and ‘Masterplans’.
From what I can see most of them have been a waste of money and we were better off before the development took place.
Money should instead be spent on projects that make the town a better place to live in such as creating areas of greenery in Frogmoor and installing flower beds to make to town look nice.
5. Build factories
Unless we have factories how will the people have jobs?
Over the years the factories have been pulled down and high density housing built in their place. Are there enough employers in Wycombe to have jobs for all the people who live in the town?
Unless there is a job for everyone the new houses are merely homes for the unemployed who drain dole money from the state. In recent years several office blocks have even been turned into accommodation. We need jobs for the people living here not homes for the unemployed.
6. Control houses of multiple occupancy
In my opinion Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMO’s) are ruining the town.
Houses should be for families to live in and not for landlords to use for their own commercial gain.
There should be a central register of HMO’s with each one needing a licence to operate. Then they can be charged commercial rates for refuse collection, controls kept over the number of vehicles at each property, etc….
7. Making planning regulations tighter
All too often I feel an area is ruined by lax planning regulation. Planning permission should be required to pave over a front garden for use as parking space. If someone has converted their front lawn to parking without permission they should be fined and forced to revert the garden to how it was before – no questions asked, no appeals and no ‘retrospective’ planning applications either!
Planning permissions should also stipulate hours, times and days that builders can work as well as hours, times and days that they can’t work.
If someone, i.e. a neighbour, objects then that’s it, permission refused! From what I can see all too often people can move into to a new house, get planning permission for alterations and move out leaving the long standing neighbours to suffer the consequences of the building work even though the neighbour, who still lives in the area, objected. If you need a bigger house don’t increase the size of the current house – move!
8. Ban bonfires
Bonfires should not be allowed in the summer months when people nearby want to sit outside.
There is nothing more anti-social that a neighbour lighting up a big bonnie when those living nearby have their windows open or want to be outside enjoying the summer weather.
If someone lights up a smoke pile on a summers evening then residents should be able to call the fire brigade who will put out the fire and send the bill for their services to the offending home owner.
9. Stop parking on the pavement
The number of cars at a house should be limited to the number of off street parking spaces the property has.
If the car has to be left on the road then you shouldn’t have it – full stop!
Cars parked on the pavement should be towed away and scrapped with the bill for towing sent to the vehicles registered keeper and the scrap value kept by the local authority.
10. Increase police patrols in the town centre
It’s about time the young delinquents who run amok in Wycombe town centre were brought to book.
Rather then youngsters terrorising the law abiding citizens of the town let’s see the yobbos arrested and given criminal records.
There we are, ten points that I feel would make Wycombe a better place in which to live, work and reward those who have given to the town in preference to those who have just moved in. Above all my ideas would help to make Wycombe great again.
To implement such bold ideas takes a visionary, someone who is not afraid to speak out even if a few people are upset. America has their leader so perhaps my good self should step forward and stand for election to be the leader of the town and do the things necessary for Wycombe to be great again too?
Sadly I fear it’s unlikely the powers that be would make me leader so my ideas are unlikely to be actioned. The stagnation will continue, peoples lives will still be a misery, anti-social behaviours will not be tackled and things will not change for the better. What a shame….
What do you think?
*My blogs are published every Tuesday and Friday evening around 8.00pm here on the WycombeToday.com website.