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

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Please note, any letters sent to the Bucks Free Press office are only being picked up periodically as all staff are still working from home.

Council should be embracing HS2

WHY spend money on railways when we can just dig bigger canals? Was one argument when world's first intercity: Liverpool - Manchester railway was proposed.

“These new-fangled ‘steam trains’ only go 5mph faster than a horse pulled boat! Waste of money!” Said the canal owners. “Build bigger boats!” Said the boatbuilders. “This will destroy the countryside forever!” Said the landowners the line was going thorough.

However, after construction it was realised how much this revolutionised the way people and goods can get around and railway building exploded across the globe. It's still the most cost-effective and efficient way to move large volumes of physical objects over land.

The growing UK population is now seven times larger than early Victorian times. We cannot expect to prosper in the 21st century with 19th infrastructure. Network Rail report alternative existing network upgrades would cause three times the destruction while only providing 50 per cent of the capacity of HS2. I’m inclined to believe them rather than a few retired rail engineers in the pay of #STOPHS2.

Like all pandemics in human history this one will thankfully pass and the need and desire for mass-transit will return. Only 30 per cent of jobs can be adequately ‘done from home’ (have you tried contacting your bank or utilities during lockdown?). And what about young people starting out in ‘white-collar’ careers, who don’t have a home study and will want and need the interaction of colleagues in an office environment? What about getting to job interviews or university or visiting friends/family or…

The idea that HS2 shouldn’t be done because it’s “destroying” 0.01 per cent of UKs ancient woodland does sound like arguing to straighten chairs on the Titanic. None of our ancient woodlands will survive in their current form if the climate changes; and transportation is now the biggest emitter of CO2 in this country.

Building a low-carbon national high-speed rail network is by far the best way to reduce the number of cars on motorways and planes in the sky. This environmentalist argument is driven by a hardcore who seem to want us all to live in Bronze Age ‘communes’ (with 24hr Wi-Fi of course) where the ability to travel would be restricted to how many horses you can keep.

The government is borrowing investment capital to build HS2 which will boost productivity in this country for the next 100-200 years. It's not money that can simply be ‘given to NHS’. The 20,000 skilled jobs needed to build it don’t take into account the thousands of jobs that will be needed and created to run the service over this time.

It’s absolutely right that our council hold HS2 contractors to account to ensure promises are kept and negative effects continue to be mitigated. Much of the increased costs of the project are due to the route redesign and longer tunnelling under the Chilterns after all.

HS2 will provide a direct benefit to anyone in Bucks who has to use the Chiltern line, with more frequent and reliable services into Marylebone. Anyone who has to use the M40 or A40 into London should also notice less congestion; for that matter anyone who uses the M1 or M6 too once HS3 is completed.

Where the HS2 line intersects with the new East-West railway in Bucks Buckinghamshire Council should be lobbying HS2 to build a station there. Especially as they’ve argued that regional connectivity should be prioritised. It would provide a tremendous opportunity for investment in Bucks and would directly benefit residents, especially those in the Aylesbury area. It’s actually closer to Bicester, Oxon., they should be helping to pay for it.

If our council were serious about the overall long-term health and prosperity of Buckinghamshire residents, they should be embracing HS2 and all low/zero emission local infrastructure projects far more earnestly and constructively than they currently do.

Mark Skoyles, Marlow

Our voices need to be heard

MY LEXUS CT's catalytic converter was stolen last week. When I informed the police, I received the email below.

“We are sorry to hear that you have been the victim of crime. An investigator from the Metropolitan Police has looked carefully at your case and we are sorry to say that, with the evidence and leads available, it is unlikely that it will be possible to identify those responsible. We have therefore closed this case.”

Unfortunately, those stealing our catalytic converters and other belongings are free to do whatever they want. We are not safe and protected. My friend's car's catalytic converter has been stolen as well.

Actually it is the responsibility of the dealers to warn their customers, but I have never received such a warning so far. Why did they fit such a valuable part of the car to an easily accessible place? When I wrote them, they just offered to fit a catlock for £250. Those companies should take on the responsibility and repair these cars. Please help us make them hear our voices. Thank you very much.

John, via email

Bemused by last week’s letter

I FOUND myself somewhat bemused by Phil Jones' letter in BFP, September 11. The example he quotes regarding two people driving identical cars and crashing into others at 30mph does not take into account any wrongdoing by either driver other than carelessness i.e. being under the influence of drugs or drink, using a mobile phone, driving whilst unfit, bad eyesight etc.

The humanising of the judiciary that Mr Jones refers to seems to me to favour the criminal far too much and seems to ignore the victims, any driver causing death by dangerous driving, particularly the offences I mentioned earlier should be sentenced to a very long time in prison, no question.

I have no faith in our justice system to be able to hand out suitable sentences to those that insist on breaking our laws, one reason why so many convicted drivers are still on our roads by pleading hardship if they were disqualified, the idea of the penalty is surely to act as a deterrent, if it is ignored then you must accept the consequences and magistrates should be seen to enforce it.

Roy Craig, Hazlemere

This is not about Brexit, it’s about the law

IN A BBC interview on 11th September Wycombe MP Steve Baker was asked to comment on his government’s announcement that it plans to break international law and unilaterally amend the Withdrawal Agreement with the EU.

Mr Baker responded that the Government should “repudiate” (sic) all its agreements with the EU.

On page 53 of the manifesto on which Mr Baker was elected last year it states that a Conservative government will continue to be “a champion of ... a rules based international system.”

Margaret Thatcher believed that “The first duty of government is to uphold the law. If it tries to bob and weave and duck around that duty when it’s inconvenient ... then so will the governed, and then nothing is safe – not home, not liberty, not life itself.”

This is not about Brexit. It is about the law, which the Conservative Party has always sought to assert, protect and above all obey.

Having voted for him on account of what appears to be a false prospectus, Conservative voters – whether Leavers or Remainers – may wish to ask Mr Baker: “Are you really a Conservative?”

Peter Roberts, High Wycombe

HS2 a costly white elephant?

THE Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, was quoted in last week's BFP as saying the HS2 line is important and being built for the next 150 years. At 2019 prices its cost may reach £106 billion.

But meanwhile shouldn't we all be worried about the next few years?

Our essential services badly need more funding as the virus scare continues and the economy severely wobbles. Also, the uncertainties of brexit.

Thousands are losing their jobs, and precious health, education, social services etc. need big boosts.

They are felling Bucks trees, tearing up fields and digging a big long tunnel under parts of our county for HS2, and we keep hearing that from now on there will be lots more people working from home.

Also, multi-person zooming is even more developed for conferencing between companies and individuals.

Fewer people will need to travel by train.

So - all the more reason to realise that surely the billions being spent on HS2 are an awful waste of precious public money. It is all about national priorities for services.

The virus crisis is adding lots more worry and gloom for us all and our government is shambolic.

If anyone wants to get to and from Birmingham, and beyond, there are the M40 and existing train lines to use. And don't forget there will be no HS2 stations for us to use in Bucks. HS2 train users will get to Birmingham about 20 minutes faster than they do now on existing routes.

Will HS2 become a very costly white elephant in this century? Will our grandchildren and great grandchildren still be paying for it for 150 years?

Name and address withheld

Imagine what we could do with cash

SO GRANT Shapps claimed that the Gravy Train (HS2) will last 150 years (BFP September 11).

What I assume he didn’t add was that it is likely to cost about £1 billion for every one of those years.

When first proposed its projected cost was £37.5bn but the latest estimate of its finished cost is something - anything in excess of £100bn, so £150bn is a real possibility.

Its purpose has nothing to do with its actual function which is to get those overpaid business men who are not working at home, into London twenty minutes earlier, at a cost that rules out anyone else.

Its purpose is to make a lot of money for a very few people. Just imagine what the taxpayers’ money could be used to do if the Gravy Train was cancelled.

Don’t be fooled by the claim that it will provide 22,000 much needed jobs: those same people could be employed on useful projects such as building schools or hospitals and even better rail connections all over the country.

Buckinghamshire might even be able to repair its third-world roads, where even the potholes have potholes (except near Chequers of course). All with miniscule ecological damage by comparison with what HS2 threatens.

There might even be enough money left over to pay for a judicial inquiry into what happened to the eye-watering amount of money already spent with very, very little to show for it.

Dr Trevor Hussey, via email

Please stop this social media craze

Blue Cross is horrified about the latest social media craze where pet owners are sharing videos and images of themselves getting up close to their pet and surprising them when they are asleep or removing their food when eating.

Using hashtags like ‘#invadeyourdogspersonalspace’ and ‘#invadeyourpetsspace’ there have been over half a million views of these posts so far.

Examples we’ve seen include making loud noises next to sleeping pets to film how they react, getting into a pets’ bed when they are sleeping and waking them suddenly when face to face. While we are sure the intent is innocent fun, it is vital pet owners understand that this is a potentially dangerous activity and extremely traumatic and stressful for most pets who may go on to develop serious behaviour problems.

Claire Stallard, Blue Cross