A selection of readers’ letters from the Bury Free Press of Friday, April 22.
CONSULTATION WAS NOT FAIR
We were told in the very beginning that the school organisation consultation would listen to what the people wanted, but when Mrs Neal, head of our outstanding County Upper School, was denied permission to address the packed meeting at the Howard Middle School on October 17, 2013, it was clear to all present that they were not in the slightest bit interested in anything the parents had to say and that it was simply a “done deal”.
I think this was a very sad day for democracy.
County Upper is a great school with great teaching staff, led by a truly exceptional headteacher and has served the children from the Howard and Mildenhall estates well over many years. It is only natural that parents would want their children to continue attending this great school.
However, the education chiefs that want to stop this happening were condemned for “damaging the life chances of our children” in a scathing Ofsted report. This was shortly followed by a statement from Ipswich MP Ben Gummer in which he said: “The simple truth is that Suffolk has been left behind by much of the country.”
Can we therefore trust these people to deliver what is best for our children? It is not a question of two-tier or three-tier, it’s simply that County Upper is regarded as OUR school and we want our children to continue to go to that school.
It has for many years been one of the top schools in the country (not just in Suffolk) and our parents would be failing their children if they we didn’t get them the best education possible.
At present, the Howard and Tollgate Primary schools feed into the Howard Middle School, then onto the County Upper School – all three within a few hundred yards and in walking distance of each other.
County Upper, Tollgate and Howard Middle all applied to become part of the academy, but for some reason Howard Middle was refused permission despite several requests. Howard Primary, by not applying for academy status, will receive lots of extra funding along with a new school.
As I understand it, the newly proposed set-up due to start this September means that children from the Howard and Mildenhall estates will have to go past County Upper (which is on their doorstep) on their way to either Westley Middle or King Edward VI schools, thereby creating travel and safety concerns for parents and adding yet more traffic to the already crowded roads.
At the same time, children from Horringer Court estate who used to go King Edward VI will have to pass that school on their way to County Upper. Then, if there aren’t enough places at King Edward VI, as appears likely, some children might well have to travel to the new school on Moreton Hall, on roads that are already gridlocked in the mornings and evenings. What a nightmare that might turn out to be.
Parents from schools all over town felt just as angry at being ignored, so together we set up an action group called Best for Bury, which called for an all-through schooling system. A stall was hired on Bury Market one busy Saturday and we collected hundreds of signatures in support of our partition. However, someone in authority told us that no matter how many signatures we managed to get, the petition would only count as one.
I then personally rushed to the local post office to buy packs of post cards, got people to sign saying that they wanted their children to be able to go to County Upper and handed them in.
My reason for writing this letter is twofold. Firstly, to make people aware that these consultations that affect so many aspects of our lives nowadays are not always as open or as fair as they should be and, secondly, to remind parents of the changes that are going to affect so many of our youngsters come into force this September.
I wish all the schools and all the children a smooth and trouble- free change over to the new system and pray that every child goes on to enjoy a fruitful and happy education that gives each and every one of them the opportunity to fulﬁl their ambitions.
Our children are our future.
-- Ernie Broom, chairman, HEART
BROWN BINS CHARGE SEEMS TO BE A SCAM
I wonder how many good citizens who have recently paid £40 to have their brown bin emptied are aware that perhaps they didn’t need to.
I recently telephoned the council waste management, concerned that I was aware of a black bin being emptied which contained a good amount of garden waste,ie soil, weeds, winter plants, dead leaves etc.
I was told by the very helpful lady that garden waste was quite acceptable in the black bin, perhaps for people with small gardens. It begs the questions, why have we got brown bins and who decides whether we have a large or small garden? And who explained this before we parted with our money?
I think us good citizens who have forked out hard-earned money to do what we believed to be the right thing, should be refunded the full £40 – it seems to me to be a scam, or am I missing something?
Responses please from council officials, or anybody who can put me right
-- Clive Licence, Beck Row
SERVICE HAS BEEN VERY EFFICIENT
Readers’ criticism of the revised brown bin collection system was such a pity as, in my opinion and from my experience, the service has been very good and efficient, particularly considering the hard work and unpleasant nature of the job.
-- Graeme Clark, Hopton
THERE ARE NO PARKING RULES
I would like to point out the myth in Bury St Edmunds about the parking rules. There are none – you can park in St John’s Street, St Andrew’s Street and Risbygate Street, on double yellow lines, on the corner of the junction and in loading bays, even on the pavement obstructing people’s right of way, so people in wheelchairs or those with baby buggies have to go on to the road to get round.
Don’t worry car owners, it’s free parking and nothing is done to stop you.
Even parking on Angel Hill in the coach parking-only bays. We had a slight scare and were told we would be prosecuted, but hey, that’s a myth, too, you can do what you like. After all, it’s the tax-payers who foot the bill for the broken pavements caused by parking on them.
So, I hope that verifies it’s not expensive at all to park in Bury St Edmunds.
-- David Flaherty, Bury St Edmunds
WE NEED TO KEEP FREE TRADE
Like many others, Bill Attwood (letters, April 15) argues that if the UK leaves the EU, the EU countries will continue to trade freely with us because they sell us far more than we sell them. But the EU is very much bigger than the UK and the EU sales to the UK are only 8 per cent of their total exports, whereas the UK’s exports to the EU make up 42 per cent of our total exports. We need the free trade arrangements far more then they do.
-- John Wilkin, Bury St Edmunds
COUNCIL FAILED TO PROTECT TREES
I read in the press recently that a man in Haverhill was taken to court by St Edmundsbury Borough Council for heavily pollarding some trees in Haverhill without the council’s permission. He was fined £500 and given a 12-month conditional discharge.
Bob Everett, cabinet member even said: “The council had a duty of care to seek redress for the damage caused.” What hypocrisy!
At the end of last year, Havebury Housing completely cut down two and heavily pollarded two other beautiful, mature trees in The Vinefields, all – according to Suffolk County Council, which owns the trees – without its prior permission or consent.
Because the trees are within the borough, indeed the town of Bury St Edmunds, I first contacted St Edmundsbury Borough Council to ask, why were these beautiful trees destroyed overnight?
I was sent onward to my local councillor, who said she had noticed they had gone, but really, I don’t think this matter interested her, either.
Onward I moved, to Suffolk County Council, which stated they were indeed its trees and no-one had sought permission to cut them down.
But alas, after many months of emailing them and giving me an impressive, but pointless ‘incident report number’ (00129746, for those interested), both me and the now long-deceased trees, have been pushed aside in the hope the whole, nasty mess will be forgotten about.
Shorty after I reported this matter, a stump grinder turned up to remove all evidence the trees ever existed in the first place. Good job I had already photographed the evidence.
My only conclusion is that if you reside in St Edmundsbury and you are an organisation, situated within the same building as the borough council, you can chop a tree down without telling anyone. However, if you are an individual, and you do the same, you will be fined and made an example of.
Even more interestingly, in 2012 the area where these very trees grew (The Vinefields, yes, the old and ancient Bury St Edmunds Abbey Vinefields, with Grade I-listed flint and stone boundary wall), was removed by St Edmundsbury from the conservation area. Why this was done, I cannot imagine. At the time, the council reassured residents about the trees in this area stating: “Trees were being considered for separate protection in areas where the conservation area is proposed for removal.”
My question is, why did St Edmundsbury suggest these trees might be protected, when they knew all along, these trees were not theirs to protect anyway?
-- Paula Harber, The Vinefields, Bury St Edmunds