If only all cities were like Milton Keynes

THIS IS MY LETTER REGARDING MILTON KEYNES BEING AWARDED CITY STATUS

Dear Councillor

I read with great interest a news report speaking about your “passionate” speech in support of Milton Keynes being awarded a city charter. I too am passionate in this regard and believe I have much that could make this happen. As such I would here like to share my own perspective and my dream.

I  have said many times over the years that no person should be allowed to be a member of Milton Keynes Council until they have read Sir Frank Markham’s book. May I ask very kindly if you have read it and if you actually know who Sir Frank Markham was ?

I came to live in Milton Keynes in 1971 when it was little more than an idea on a sheet of paper, I lived in Bletchley Park for three years attending the teacher training college located there. I attended two lectures by Sir Frank as he talked about his book THE HISTORY OF MILTON KEYNES AND DISTRICT. In my final year I came to know his wife, Lady Markham. I was the student governor on the college board and she a member. We used to sit together at meetings. Later, in the 1990’s, she gave me permission to refer to her husband’s work within my own writing.

THE HISTORY OF MILTON KEYNES AND DISTRICT BY SIR FRANK MARKHAM – no person should be allowed to sit on Milton Keynes council who has not read this book.

Enclosed please find: HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW MILTON KEYNES ? This is something I put together within my book MILTON DREAMS THE CITY THAT NEVER WAS. I sent a copy to every single member of Milton Keynes Council but not a single reply did I receive !  Again extremely kindly I would ask how many questions you can answer ?

I believe with a passion that Milton Keynes should be awarded a city charter but if the process is left in the hands of Milton Keynes Council it will never happen. Indeed it could be argued it should not happen. It has to come from the people, the citizens of Milton Keynes and then it truly deserves to become a reality.

It has been my hobby since I was a child to write stories and features. Across the three years of 2020, 2021 and 2022 I am setting out to become the most prolific writer of e-books on Amazon. That is another matter but does have a relevance. I believe that I am currently the most prolific writer on the subject of Milton Keynes.

My works include:

·       In Search Of The Leons

·       Not The Concrete Cows

·       Milton Dreams The City That Never Was

·       Down And Out In Milton Dreams

·       Milton Keynes A Disco For A New City

I so much want to be able to write something else - Milton Keynes The City That Truly Is

I have been trying to get people to take note of my writing and to use it to spark a dream that we will one day become THE CITY OF MILTON KEYNES. However, trying to get people to listen is an uphill struggle and, sadly, Milton Keynes does not have an effective media to help. Perhaps you can help. We share the same passion.

The first piece of writing I ever did applauding Milton Keynes was something within the Bletchley Gazette probably in 1974 or perhaps 1975. I titled it Dirty Old Town ? Dirty New City ! Taking the words from Roger Whittaker’s DIRTY OLD TOWN I complained about life on a giant building site where it was impossible to go anywhere without coming home with trousers and shoes covered in mud. Milton Keynes is situated on the Oxford clay belt which literally flowed in the streets within the construction areas. I looked forward to the city being completed and the mud going away.

Jerry West and Bill Alder re-mortgaged their homes and set up a weekly free newspaper The Milton Keynes Citizen. What a success it became overnight with its motto: Just a friend dropping in. Sadly the newspaper we know today is a fading shadow of its former self. Most copies go direct from the letter box to the recycling bin.

For about a year I was paid by The Milton Keynes Citizen to write a series of articles about life in the adolescent new city. I also did a few bits and pieces for some national magazines. Many of my articles were collected together and published under the title; NOT THE CONCRETE COWS. Kaleidoscoping  through the adolescent new city I set out to explain there was far more to Milton Keynes than the infamous concrete cows, infamous as BBC presenter Noel Edmunds would never stop joking about them. This book was popular and sold quite well but not as widely read as Sir Frank Markham’s book.

It was out of print for many years, occasionally you could pick up a copy on e-bay, until I republished it on Amazon on 5th September 2020. It is now available in both e-book and paperback editions.

Forget Bletchley The Home Of The Codebreakers ! Bletchley Park goes way back before World War Two to The Doomsday Book. For a short time in its history it was the home of The Leon Family. As a senior member of staff at Leon School I set up a project for my students to trace the then lost Leon Family. We were successful and reunited the family with its ancestral home. Sir John Leon met with my students to thank them for their work. In 1991 I published our project IN SEARCH OF THE LEONS with Sir John Leon 4th Baronet of Bletchley Park writing the foreword. Through Facebook I am still in contact which is probably more than anyone else in the area.

This also was out of print for a very long time but working with some of the original students from 1991 it was republished as an e-book at the beginning of this year.

This photograph shows Sir John Leon with two of my students presenting him with the family crest.

IN SEARCH OF THE LEONS is then world authority on the area, NOT the present day museum. Bletchley Park under the Leon’s was at the heart of the community, sadly not so today.

Henry Ford said History Is Bunk ! Indeed it is. It is heritage that counts. You do not fond heritage in a museum. You find it alive in society.

For a long time I wanted to write a sequel to NOT THE CONCRETE COWS but never quite had the time. However, with lockdown I had that time and on 5th September 2020 I published MILTON DREAMS THE CITY THAT NEVER WAS. That is availoable in both paperback and e-book format. As I was writing I contacted several times different members of Milton Keynes Council of which only one showed any interest. When it was published I advised every member of the council. Not a single one replied to my letter !

Within MILTON DREAMS THE CITY THAT NEVER WAS I try to spark a dream that one day we will be awarded city status. I say that when this happens I will write a third book MILTON KEYNES THE CITY THAT TRULY IS.

I so much want to write this book but with its track record Milton Keynes Council is not going to be able to make it happen. The dream has to come from the real people, the citizens of Milton Keynes.

Are you aware of the TV advert colloquially known as The Red Balloon Advert ? You can find it on YouTube. It finishes with the words: WOULDN’T IT BE NICE IF ALL CITIES WERE LIKE MILTON KEYNES.

Another advert, another you can find on YouTube. YOU’VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHYING LIKE IT – CENTRAL MILTON KEYNES. The song was also released as a pop single. It did not get into the charts but never mind.

Central Milton Keynes today ?  I would not be seen dead there ! Hideous climate footprint which I was able a couple of times to get into the press. It is more than ten years, nearer twenty since I was last there. CENTRAL MILTON KEYNES SHOPPING AS IT NEVER SHOULD BE.

Do you know that when Milton Keynes Development Corporation set down it very first draft plan it placed MIDSUMMER BOULEVARD across the site of the ancient Saxon settlement and aligned it so the sun would rise down its length on midsummer day ? This was one of three ley-lines around which the entire city was built. However, that ley-line was destroyed with the building of The Intu. SHOPPING AS IT NEVER SHOULD BE.

 Did you know that Cliff Richard recorded the video for his single WIRED FOR SOUND in Central Milton Keynes ?  I haven often joked that this could not happen today as the production company could never afford the  parking charges but also because where Cliff skates through an underpass that became tent city.

Does the name Jimmy Owens mean anything to you ?  I hope it does. I knew him as James, he was one of my students at Leon School.  A happy teenager with a great life ahead of him. He came with me on a student exchange to California where he flew down The Grand Canyon, panned for gold at the location of the 1849 gold rush, walked The Golden Gate Bridge and so much more. If the name Jimmy Owens means anything to you, you will know how his potential failed to be realised and ended in tragedy.

DOWN AND OUT IN MILTON DREAMS published on 23rd February 2021 tells not only Jimmy’s story but many others. George Orwell wrote Down And Out In Paris and London - this is DOWN AND OUT IN MILTON DREAMS.

Finally there is MILTON KEYNES A DISCO FOR A NEW CITY published on 31st January 2021 exploring the music of Milton Keynes and arguing its right to stand alongside the likes of Liverpool, San Francisco and many more.

The headquarters of Milton Keynes Development Corporation was located at Wavendon Towers – Wavendon. When it closed even though there was The New Towns Commission we, unfortunately, had Milton Keynes Council.

If Milton Keynes is awarded a city charter it will be able to boast the most hideous skyline of any city in the world.

Way back in the 1990’s I wrote: I love Milton Keynes but do not like what some people are doing to it and despise what some people would like to do it. Those words are echoed in Milton Dreams The City That Never Was.

What happened to NO BUILDING SHALL BE TALLER THAN THE SURROUNDING TREES ?  It became NO BUILDING SHALL BE TALLER THAN THE EGO OF MILTON KEYNES COUNCIL.

What happened to MILTON KEYNES THE GREENEST AUTHORITY IN THE WOLRLD BY 2050 ?  It is difficult to think of a less biodiverse location anywhere than Central Milton Keynes.

The drug situation has changed over the pandemic but what would Milton Keynes Development Corporation’s Chairman say about the park named after him becoming major drug dealing centre ? How many cities can boast a major drug dealing operation adjacent to its civic officers ?  Milton Keynes can. How many cities can boast for two years running its mayor’s charity location being targeted by drug dealers ?  Milton Keynes can.

Milton Keynes – STAB CITY !  A number of years ago the labour party deputy leader of Milton Keynes Council was sounding off in the media about an initiative to reduce knife crime in the area. From a number of community projects I was involved in I felt I could make a positive contribution and so wrote to her. She ignored my letter. I wrote again and she ignored my second letter. I wrote a third and fourth time but all were igored.

But the PLOT thickens. PLOT is the correct word.

I was contacted by a conservative member of Milton Keynes Council on the subject. I offered help but refused to accept the invitation to join the conservative party. From then on all of my communications were ignored ! I stopped trying.

Milton Keynes Council members playing politics. Milton Keynes Council thinks it is a fit and proper body to ask for our home to be granted a city charter ?

Within my writing I talk about the good the bad and the ugly in Milton Keynes. I say we should celebrate the GOOD, fix the BAD to make it good then celebrate that. Paint the UGLY and celebrate its new goodness.

I want to spark a dream that Milton Keynes will become a city. However, if that is left in the hands of Milton Keynes Council it will never happen and looking at the council’s track record it would be wrong for it to happen. It has to be the people who present our city for the award of a charter. Politics, with which Milton Keynes Council is riddled must be excluded. The presentation needs to come from the people.

I make no apology for the length of this letter, I have written it following my reading the report of your speech. I am pleased you have the same passion as I have. I would be very pleased to talk with you, to integrate our passions and do what we can to achieve MILTON KEYNES THE CITY THAT TRULY IS.

Finally please check this website link: www.miltondreams.com

I look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Yours faithfully

David J B Ashford

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