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The Marlow Society

 

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Chairman's Report - April 2021

Four months have passed since I typed out my previous set of notes. They have passed surprisingly quickly in spite of the repetitive nature of the days. Being of a certain age obeying the lockdown, minimising contact with others and the use of PPE has clearly made sense to the majority of Society members. Courtesy and separation in the shops and in public places is the norm. The easing of some restrictions on 29th March and the anticipated further relaxations in April and May give us hope that our lives will turn towards a new "normal". Ever mindful of the composition of our membership I do not anticipate the Society organising any communal events for most of this year but we hope to offer town walks and to support the Marlow Carnival if it takes place in September.

 

The Society's focus of late has been the bridge and its revised bollards. From personal observation very few drivers of "legal" vehicles are having difficulty albeit having slowed a bit more than before. Several vehicles have been seen turning round, which is good news. Unfortunately the measures that we have been requesting for well over three years, such as ANPR and better signage on the Bisham side, are still "being discussed" and impetus at Bucks Council is not discernible. On the credit side our county councillors have allocated £1.4M of our money to pay for the replacement of main bearings under the carriage way and repainting. I hope that the water seepage currently disfiguring the Bisham portal will be sorted out as well.

 

Our Annual General Meeting will be held on 27th May 2021 using Zoom technology. Sadly I must advise that Helen, who has been a member of our Executive Committee since before 2006, has decided to stand down. Initially as the representative of Bisham Parish Council and latterly as a committee member Helen has invariably offered sage advice and a valued perspective on our role in one of the several parishes that abut Marlow. I thank her, on your behalf, for everything she has contributed. Her departure opens an opportunity for you to join our committee and help to sustain this civic society's role in keeping the character and history of Marlow sustained for future generations.

 

Credit where credit is due. The Environment Agency has come in for some stick in recent years as flooding problems in Marlow continued to disrupt riverside communities. In spite of the very heavy rainfall this year, flooding and groundwater have been controlled so let us hope that the benefit of the money spent in recent years will continue in the future. In a similar context, it is good to see that the refurbishment of Court Garden’s swimming pool and sports hall has been completed. This and the revamped Library & Information Centre are significant assets from which we can all benefit. I am looking forward to the reopening of the gym after the long layoff in spite of the prospect of pain and suffering that will ensue.

 

My colleagues and I continue to seek the formal adoption of the footpath across the rear garden of Liston Court. This has been a five year campaign. Likewise we have asked that the path between Liston Court and Liston Road, under the archway, also be formalised as a right of way. The latter is the only level and safe route between the High Street and Anglers Court for those using mobility aids.

 

The former Wycombe District Council had developed a costed plan to provide a second parking tier over the Riley Road car park. Following the formation of our unitary council I understand that this has now been taken out of the planned budget for transport infrastructure improvement.

 

I recognise that parts of the town's infrastructure need to be replaced. The original gas pipework in Herons Place was dated 1898. This was connected to the gas works that used to be located at the junction of Cambridge Road and Dean St. Cadent, the installation company, has hardly covered itself in glory. At the start of the latest round of disruption temporary traffic lights were put into operation on the Little Marlow Road five days before work commenced. The amount of pollution caused by the traffic queues in Chapel St and Spittal St was horrific. Under present rules Bucks County has no apparent means of enforcing a working regime on the contractor that minimises the impact on you and me. Breathe in deeply and ask yourself how the Bucks County policy on Air Quality Management Areas such as central Marlow ties in with the free hand given to certain contractors by the government. The only good news is that Bucks Council was able to fine Cadent for overrunning its allocated time slot.

 

Likewise, we have all enjoyed the inconvenience, caused by fibre optic installation by telecoms operators, that has been imposed on the town. Yet again a commercial for profit company has closed roads and dug up pavements. I know of no community benefit to be derived from their activities. Commercial land developers have to make Section 106 contributions that are used for community benefit. Not so Swish and others. As for the damage to verges, you may like to know that a national contractor (any utility) has six months to make good. This is enforceable by County Highways, who may revisit the effectiveness of renovation after 18 months (Statutory Reinstatement of the Highway, SROH). Local contractors seem to be unregulated. If you want the verge outside your house to be restored now is the time to visit your local garden centre for some grass seed. Otherwise you might wait a long time.

 

When I first heard the term "Newt Ditch" I was intrigued. Going back a century or more the area that is Globe Park was agricultural land with a spring fed stream running east across it parallel to the Thames. Water still flows from under the buildings to appear on the east of the bypass. Likewise water from the Acre, Gunthorpe Rd and the Croft feeds into the Newt Ditch to reappear in the Little Marlow Lakes Country Park. I recently enjoyed a guided walk following the stream from the bypass, past the fishing lake and down towards Westhorpe House. Due to sedimentation the water flow is now restricted causing flooding and needs sorting out. Look at Marlow Town Council’s web site for more details of the Newt Ditch flood alleviation scheme.

 

Let us hope that when the next Chairman's Notes goes to press we will be freely associating with our families and friends under the summer sun. Meanwhile keep taking sensible and responsible care of yourself and others whilst remembering those who care for us.

 

Martin Blunkell

 

 

 

To contact The Marlow Society:

Email: tmssecretary@ marlowsociety.org.uk

Post: The Marlow Society, 22 Rookery Court, Marlow, Buckinghamshire, SL7 3HR.

 

To contact The Local History Group:

Email: tmslocalhistorygroup @marlowsociety.org.uk

 

 

 

 

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