This is what you have been writing to us about this week.

To send your own letter, email Please note, any letters sent to the Bucks Free Press office are only being picked up periodically during lockdown.

Should our historic pub names be protected?
So there is a planning application in to the new Buckinghamshire Council “Wycombe Planning Division” (we no longer have Wycombe District Council and have been denied a town council), to sort out the Bell Public House, Frogmoor.

Fine but the new owners want to change the name.

The Bell has been called The Bell for more than three hundred years, so why on earth should this loss of a significant piece of our local history be permitted?

They (in the broadest terms), have changed the name of the Flint Cottage to the Bootlegger, losing the connotations as to why it was called the Flint Cottage in the first place.

Reputedly the flint facings came from the demolition of the old Wycombe Gaol.

They changed the name of the Three Tuns to the Hob Goblin, then thankfully, back to the Three Tuns and in Saffron Road the Masons Arms was the Sausage Tree for a while, now back to the Masons Arms.

And the Anchor in Pauls Row, this one seems to have lost the name it was built with altogether and become The Slug.

Should we ask that public house names, especially where the building is listed or is in a conservation area, have the name protected otherwise we lose yet another trench of local history?
Anthony Mealing Dip Arch RIBA AABC, High Wycombe

Blowing in the wind...
Prompted by the universal disgust with litter, fly-tipping etc, I thought you would appreciate the technological advancement evidenced along our main street in Bourne End.

The self emptying rubbish bin.

Bucks Free Press:

I’m sure that the designer will have won international awards with this device, which ensures that any contents weighing less the a pound will blow out and along the street to “elsewhere”.

It requires a fraction of the effort to maintain and must be a design favoured by contractors to local councils, requiring minimal visits to empty...
John Collins, Bourne End

Wonderful memories of music legend
The tribute to High Wycombe ‘music legend’, Peter Goodwin (Bucks Free Press, June 26, page 33) brought back many happy memories of the years I spent in the 1970’s working in a backstage role on many of his Wycombe Opera Society productions.

What an amazing achievement those operas were, bringing together so many local singers and musicians.

Sometimes there was an added bonus of working alongside a semi-professional or professional soloist brought in at the last minute when someone had had to drop out.

Peter as director, producer and conductor, on the rostrum each evening cut an eccentric figure in his tails and tousled white hair – the archetypal ‘Maestro’.

I thank him for introducing me to the wonders of opera.

Through my involvement with those operas I became involved in amateur dramatics, a passion for which has remained with me all my life.

I doubt High Wycombe will see his like again.
Susan Deaney, Thame

Unfair for 11-plus tests to go ahead
The article in your July 3 edition titled ’11-Plus exams will be pushed back’ (page 2), included a comment from the Bucks Grammar Schools (TBGS), that “the secondary transfer test assesses ability rather than current achievement”.

This statement is in conflict with the Grammar school FAQ page which states that, “the test includes technical English, and maths skills questions”.

There is no doubt that there is natural ability and acquired ability which is achieved though practice or being taught an ability.

The ability to answer technical English and maths skills questions will depend on how much pupils have been taught and achieved at school.

It is quite unfair for the tests to go ahead until all of Bucks current year 5 pupils have completed the full year 5 curriculum.

The transfer test pass rates between private school pupils (+60 per cent) and Bucks state school pupils (25 per cent) suggests that the ability to pass the transfer test is an acquired ability.

Bucks year 5 pupils who have missed out on schooling will be disproportionately disadvantaged if these tests go ahead as proposed by TBGS.
D. Berry, High Wycombe

Shall we clap for MPs who want a payrise?
I would like to share with my fellow Bucks Free Press readers a thought that occurred to me last night when I saw a photo of Boris Johnson applauding with every appearance of good will and sincerity.

We have seen a lot of clapping recently for poorly-paid but very necessary citizens who work in public services in our society.

My thought was, that, as MP’s are supposed to be public servants, representing us all in Parliament, the next time they need or want a pay rise we could all clap them loudly instead, outside our front doors, and then they could go back to work on the same salary as before.

Just a thought.
John Lawrence, via email

Thankful for work of our NHS heroes
Considering the heavy load the NHS is under during these unprecedented times, it is only befitting that we come to celebrate 72 years of hard work, commitment and dedications to the health and welfare of all our communities.

I have personally seen the commitment and perseverance of my local NHS hospitals (Wycombe General and Stoke Mandeville) in the care they have provided for my ailing cousin, who himself was struck down by Covid-19, and placed on a ventilator for 94 days.

I am very pleased and relieved to say he was taken off the ventilator today, and his previously anxiety riddled family can now breathe a sigh of relief; thanks to the work of our heroes in the NHS.
Cllr Mahboob Hussain (Bhatti) JP, High Wycombe

Faith in human nature restored
The headline 'Wanderers fans waive refunds to help club' (Bucks Free Press sport, June 19) - now that is real support from real football supporters, in return the club has decided to allow fans to pay for season tickets in instalments - so support is a two-way street.

Plus 900 tickets sold for the opening weekend.

This has helped restore my faith in human nature, seeing everyone pulling together again.

Well done Wanderers Fans and club.

Good luck for the next season.
Glynis Wiseman, via email

Charities need our support after lockdown
I was pleased to see your pieces on South Bucks Hospice and the Rotary Club of Princes Risborough in today’s paper (Bucks Free Press, July 3).

Both emphasised the adverse impact of the lockdown on charity income whilst there is an increased demand for the support charities are able to provide.

This has been highlighted in a recent survey conducted by the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, NCVO and the Charity Finance Group.

This found that the charities responding expected to see their income reduce on average by 24 per cent lower than previously forecast with voluntary income expected to fall by 42 per cent.

I make no apology for reminding your readers of the cash benefits provided by HM Revenue & Customs on individual donations made to support a charity’s work.

HMRC’s contributions can come in one of two ways.

Firstly, through gift aid on donations made by individual taxpayers; for every £10 donated HMRC will pay back £2.50 to the charity if a gift aid declaration has been made by the donor.

Both charities mentioned in your pieces have made giving under gift aid easier by using an online platform.

Secondly, through the gift aid small donations scheme (GASDS) cash donations of £30 or less can generate a payment from HMRC of 25 per cent of the cash collected by the charity (subject to an overall annual limit of a total £2,000 repayment).

Whilst subject to some limited conditions, GASDS is more straightforward than gift aid since no declarations are required.

It is good to see that both of your pieces encourage donations to these worthy charities; readers who can afford it should be encouraged to give generously bearing in mind HMRC will contribute an extra 25 per cent!
Richard Baldwin MBE: FCA: CTA, Seer Green

EU spending is efficient
In the European Parliament in Brussels, a woman told me, "Every time we go to Strasbourg, we all say, oh, why are we doing this, and then we all do it anyway".

Leo Duggan's letter on the 19th of June was mostly nonsense, along with a little bit that the people at the European Parliament might agree with.

The European Parliament has published a study of how much the move between Brussels and Strasbourg costs.

It is recognised a "negative symbolic issue" that costs about six per cent of the European Parliament's budget - a "significant amount", while representing 0.1 per cent of the total budget.

The independent European Court of Auditors "confirmed the conclusions of the 2013 EP study but arrived at a total expenditure associated with the Strasbourg seat of €109 million per year. A further €5 million savings would come from reduction of the travel expenses in the budgets of the European Commission and the Council".

This is less than £180m per year quoted by Mr Duggan, who gave no source for his figure.

Far from being big and expensive, the European Union's budget is small compared to national budgets. EU budget commitments were 1.02 per cent of Europe's gross national income in the agreed initial budget for 2018.

The EU is careful about how it spends money for and with its member countries. The budget has to be approved by a vote of the directly elected European Parliament.

The top two expenses for 2018 were farming (39 per cent) and regional development (34 per cent). Admin was six per cent.

Direct funding by the EU is disclosed in the Financial Transparency System run by the European Commission.

The EU budget 2018 financial report is available online, and so are the audit reports of the European Court of Auditors dating back as far as the financial year 1977-1978.
Phil Jones, member of the European Movement UK, Bourne End