A selection of readers’ letters from the Bury Free Press of Friday, August 22.
IMPACT OF TIC CLOSURE
Many people in Bury St Edmunds were stunned at the swift closure of the Tourist Information Centre (TIC) on Angel Hill, especially at the start of the 2014 tourist season.
As usual, vast sums of money were quoted as a possible savings.
Now we see, that St Edmundsbury Borough Council is still paying rent of £1,250 per month, the lease has over four years to run and no tenants on the horizon.
Putting some TIC information in the Apex was a logical step, it covers that side of town, however many major events take place on Angel Hill, all visiting coaches stop on Angel Hill, people pass by on market days, one has to ask was this step taken in undue haste? Did anyone bother checking the lease?
There was mention in local press that Sudbury TIC has made a profit and it is now promoted and widely supported.
I am surprised that Bury St Edmunds Town Council seems to have been so silent on this matter.
The borough claims that the £700,000 subsidy for the Apex brings in £5 million extra, hard to believe, but what impact has the closure of the Tourist Information Centre had on this side of town? The cathedral staff are helpful, but it’s not a logical place to look, unless visiting the cathedral, whereas the Angel Hill TIC was in the right place, had great staff, won awards and with a bit of a push could have made a profit.
-- Tomy Murray, Bury St Edmunds
A SHORTSIGHTED DECISION
The closure of the Tourist Information Centre on Angel Hill just as the tourist season was beginning was the most shortsighted decision made by councillors.
The TIC has been in various places before, including a caravan in the Abbey Gardens and The Athenaeum, and the place on Angel Hill was ideal for visitors to our town, a lot of information there and very helpful staff.
What were they thinking to move the information into hubs? Just to save a few thousand pounds.
The volunteers at the cathedral are doing their best to keep Angel Hill as the focus of the town, and the staff at the Apex are coping as best they can with queries about accommodation and places to go. When coaches and tourists are directed into the town it is to Angel Hill, the best part of our town and they expect to find information there, not in the new development, quite a walk away.
Come on councillors, reverse this decision and let’s have our TIC back where it belongs.
-- Mavis Hanson, Bury St Edmunds
WE’RE MUGS TO SUBSIDISE VENUE
In response to my letter about the financial crises engulfing the Apex venue, Richard O’Driscoll seeks to deflect the debate about cost to something he calls ‘value’ (Letters, August 15). Richard says that ‘friends from Cambridge, Norwich and further afield speak with envy of our good fortune at having such a wonderful venue’. This is because they can buy cut-price tickets subsidised by St Edmundsbury Council Tax-payers. We can be easily identified by the word ‘MUG’ stamped on our foreheads.
Richard wants me to ‘lighten up’ about the Apex subsidy. I suggest he tightens up his fiscal thinking. One of his last acts before quitting as a borough councillor in 2003 was to vote for a 9.9 per cent Council Tax rise. He also backed the public venue project despite there already being at least two concert halls in Bury – the Athenaeum and the Corn Exchange – plus the cathedral ( which is still by far the best, despite the cramped nature of the pews for those of us with long legs).
In a previous letters page (August 8), Tom Murray says that he is curious to know how the £5 million value to the local economy arising from the Apex venue is calculated. It’s based on a formula devised by a Prof Dominic Shellard for the Arts Council in 2004. It is: Turnover + Additional Visitor Spend + Salaries (paid to staff) + Goods & Services. This sub- total is then multiplied by 1.5 (don’t ask me why). When applied to the Apex, the estimated grand total is £5,260,500. How much of this will be winging its way into Mr Murray’s bank account? My estimate (give or take a few million) is diddlysquat. Sorry Tom!
-- Cllr David Nettleton, Bury St Edmunds
PROUD I SIGNED MP PETITION
I am sad to read all of the letters of support for Mr Ruffley. I agree that to err is human and to forgive is divine. To forgive, in the case of domestic abuse, is essential. If the abused person does not agree to forgive then the abuse accelerates. If they refuse to forgive then it is like they agree that they deserved it. Abused women (and men) come to believe that they are worthless and have no power. For a friend to stick up for them and persuade them that their abuse was not earned is empowering. Some letters say that we don’t know the whole story, so true. But ultimately a woman was abused – there is no dispute about this. Abusers can and sometimes do turn into murderers. I signed the petition and am proud that I did.
-- Name and address supplied
RUFFLEY DID AN EXCELLENT JOB
Regardless of the unfortunate circumstances in which Mr David Ruffley has been involved, I would personally like to thank him for doing an excellent job in his role as my MP.
He has always responded promptly and efficiently to various letters and emails which I have sent him over his years in office and if his successor takes just half the trouble to attend to such matters, then he will do an excellent job.
-- Jeanne Bartlett, via email
DEAN SHOULD CONSIDER HER POSITION
If the letters in the Bury Free Press are anything to go by, we must assume David Ruffley has support from the majority of local people, and yet outside forces have – if not in whole – been partially instrumental in his decision to quit his seat as an MP. Also it would appear there are not an inconsiderable number of constituents who feel that the Dean of St Edmundsbury would do well to consider her own position following this matter.
-- Brian Davies, Bury St Edmunds
FEW RESPONSES TO LIVING WAGE CAMPAIGN
The West Suffolk Trades Union Council, in promoting the Living Wage Campaign – that outside London, no-one should be paid less than £7.65 per hour – has written to 12 local employers and to West Suffolk Members of Parliament Matthew Hancock and David Ruffley, inviting confirmation of this modest and necessary objective. After all, the national minimum wage of £6.31 per hour is today nothing but a poverty wage. But are local employers responding to this deplorable fact of life?
To his credit, Matthew Hancock has replied to us expressing firm support for the Living Wage. David Ruffley has not replied.
Of the 12 emploers we wrote to at the end of April, with reminders sent in early July, we have had just two encouraging replies: One from British Sugar and another from St Edmundsbury Borough Council (which replied positively also for Forest Heath District Council).
From the remaining 10 firms with bases in West Suffolk – silence. Do we include them on the Living Wage Roll of Shame?
-- Derek Branson, Secretary, West Suffolk Trades Council
EXCELLENT CARE AT HOSPITAL
Having recently been admitted to West Suffolk Hospital, I would like to convey my most sincere thanks to all who were invloved in my care. I was treated with respect, dignitu and professionalism by all doctors, nurses and ancillary staff.
The procedures and their results were fully explained to me. This left me reassured. We have a health service that is second to none. Long may it carry on.
-- Colin Butcher, Lakenheath
NATIONAL SCANdAL THAT SO MANY HAVE TO USE FOODBANKS
Thank goodness for the church’s intervention into the local political scandal of the day! No, I do not mean David Ruffley’s resignation and the associated comments made by the Dean of St Edmundsbury that appear to have so upset Mr Ruffley’s supporters, I am referring to the 31 per cent year on year increase in demand for food parcels distributed by the Stowmarket and Area Foodbank run by the New Life Family Church and Stowmarket Churches Together.
I agree with Pastor Mike Smith when he says he never thought there would be a need for foodbanks in Suffolk. This from a man who with colleagues is more used to feeding hungry children on the continent of Africa.
It is a national scandal that in the seventh richest country in the world nearly one million people were forced to turn to foodbanks last year. The churches in this and other areas are doing sterling work in reaching out to families in need, but this isn’t how it should be. We need a government committed to creating opportunity, equality and fairness as opposed to this Tory government where the rich get rich and the poor get poorer.
I hope David Ruffley’s supporters that were so keen to write in last week have not put their pens away and we can continue this debate in the run up to the general election.
-- Richard Soer, Great Barton