READERS’ LETTERS: From the Bury Free Press of Friday, December 19

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A selection of readers’ letters from the Bury Free Press of Friday, December 19

NATIONAL GRID KEPT OUR HOMES SAFE

We were the unlucky family to be the first to be evacuated from Severn Road last Sunday. I would like through your newspaper to say a big thank you to all in the National Grid team who were involved in this very hard task. From the managers and supervisors to the ground crews who were involved, they all played their part in keeping our homes safe for our return.

Thanks also to the staff of the Quality Hotel which was our home for three nights.

Once again a big thank you to them all.

-- Derrick Raper, Severn Road, Bury St Edmunds

STREET LIGHTING NOT GOOD ENOUGH

Every evening while I drive down Abbeygate Street in central Bury, I’m struck by how dark the street is compared to the rest of the town centre.Is there a deliberate ploy to go back to the dark ages , or do SCC/SEBC pay the shops to keep their window lights on to make up for lack of street lighting? It really is appalling, considering that the town has a vibrant evening economy.Abbeygate Street looks like a dark tunnel (although most road tunnels are much brighter than this street).

The current fixtures are either broken or only illuminate the wall below them. It is already a dangerous street to walk / drive down as you have the road crossovers plus pedestrians walking down the middle . . . maybe the lighting needs another look?

-- Stephen Moody, Thurston

THIS IS A PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE

With reference to your article, Beautification of Skinner Street (Bury Free Press, December 12), the Bury Society believes it isn’t just a matter of ‘beautification’ – but a serious problem for public health and safety that the borough council should take seriously.

Skinner Street has long been an eyesore in the heart of Bury St Edmunds. We cannot blame the owners and tenants of the buildings who back on to Skinner Street for the dilapidated state of some of the properties, when the general state of the street is a health hazard, with no lighting, a depository for needles (currently removed by the builders working on Cupola House), human waste, vermin, glass and generally dirty conditions with weeds growing under the industrial wheelie bins lined up on the pavements.

The Bury Society is currently in negotiation with the council as it is clear that there is a health and safety issue – especially once Cupola House is finished when there will be a public entrance/exit directly on to this historic street. So far there has been a favourable response regarding lighting for Skinner Street, which we consider to be essential because of the dangers of a dark area in the centre of the town at night.

We are also discussing the issues around waste disposal and the large number of industrial wheelies that currently prevent efficient cleaning of the street and provide cover for anti-social behaviour. Skinner Street does not have to be a ‘service yard’. We hope that with collaboration with those who own or rent properties it will be possible to add to the attractiveness of this historic thoroughfare and make it safer.

The Bury Society has campaigned for many years to make Skinner Street a place where residents and tourists would be proud of. It is the only original cobbled street left in Bury. Tourism in Bury is vital to the economy and this small central historic area, if made safe and attractive, could add to the pleasure of all those who live in and visit the town.

-- Karen Hurden, Chairman, The Bury Society

THERE’S LITTLE THAT CAN BE DONE

Reading your accurate coverage of the recent council committee debate on the ‘beautification’ of Skinner Street, readers may be forgiven for thinking that my only contribution was: ‘it’s a service road, get over it’ (Bury Free Press, December 12). This unguarded expression of exasperation resulted from hearing a comprehensive report from a senior officer (Mark Walsh) whose evidence clearly indicated that options for improving the street had more disadvantages than advantages. I was the first to speak after this presentation, and after thanking Mark I argued that he had clearly demonstrated that the laudable aim of trying to improve the appearance of Skinner Street was simply not viable.

Once Cupola House is completed, the public will be able again to use this quaint cobbled back street; and it is to be hoped that businesses which exit on to it will keep their bins neat and adjacent to their rear facades. But this is a service road, and short of the county council improving lighting to combat anti-social behaviour, almost all my colleagues from both political sides agreed with me (though rather more elegantly) that there was little else that could be done to improve it.

-- Cllr Paul Farmer, Abbeygate Ward, Bury

NO EVIDENCE EITHER WAY

I’m glad David Nettleton isn’t in charge of my household budget if he thinks that a majority among a small number of residents who respond to a survey amounts to the same as a majority of residents (Letters, December 12).

Arithmetic doesn’t seem to be his strong point. He says there is ‘no evidence to suggest that people who don’t respond to a consultation exercise hold different opinions from those who do’. Well done Mr Nettleton – there can be no evidence either way, as those who didn’t respond kept their opinions to themselves, but some people are now complaining about the outcome of the consultation.

The suggestion that people who need to park a car should ‘take the sensible precaution’ of buying a town centre property with off-road parking must rank alongside Marie Antoinette’s ‘let them eat cake’. Mr Nettleton is a councillor – he should be well aware that the vast majority of houses and flats in the town were built long before the era when most people had a car and they don’t offer parking. In any case, you can’t take the garage with you when you drive to work so there is still a need for on-street parking.

Mr Nettleton criticises my use of the term ‘proposed’ in relation to the closure of Abbeygate Street. Perhaps I should have said the closure is ‘under review’, as stated in the story in last week’s BFP. Thank goodness for Cllr Farmer who says: ‘I don’t notice any great confusion [over pedestrianisation times], and I think there would be if we changed it’. There is no indication of how residents can make their views known, and the fact remains that anyone who wants it to stay open to traffic should make sure they are heard.

-- Gayle Wade, Bury St Edmunds

TOO MANY SCHOOLS ‘INADEQUATE’

When Ofsted inspected Suffolk County Council at the start of 2014 one of the key reasons was that too many children were being educated in inadequate schools. After nearly a year during which the Local Authority (LA) has been getting increasingly shrill in its claims to offering ‘effective challenge’ to schools, the number of children being offered an inadequate education is growing.

In August 2013 Suffolk had 3,800 children being taught in schools judged inadequate by Ofsted. Today, the number of children who are being educated in schools rated Inadequate has risen to 8,500. That is getting towards 10 per cent of Suffolk school children.

The LA first blamed the teachers, then the parents, then the governors. If a governing body is inadequate it is highly unlikely to be so by choice, it will be because it doesn’t know how to be better. Asking such bodies to provide detailed recovery plans to restore effective leadership and management within 15 working days – unaided – seems designed to fail.

Should these governing bodies fail to produce sufficiently robust recovery plans – not that many think the LA would recognise such a plan should it appear – what will the LA do next? Does it really have enough experienced governors waiting in the wings to be paid to set up replacement governing bodies (IEBs)? And if it does, why are these people not already in schools making a difference?

If the LA can replace these governing bodies, what then? It is my experience that a governing body can only be as good at the headteacher allows it to be. So, in schools that have a serious problem with governance it is very likely that leadership will also be inadequate. Is it, then, the plan that having turfed out the governing body, the LA’s IEB will turf out the headteacher?

Bearing in mind the latest batch of Key Stage 2 data just published and the Chief Inspector of Ofsted’s latest annual report, telling us that Suffolk’s secondary schools are even worse than its primary schools, when Ofsted return, as they will, they will not be impressed with claims of action – shrill or otherwise. They will only be interested in the transformative impact the LA actions have had: not much hope there, then.

-- John Park, Bury St Edmunds

THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT

Bury St Edmunds District Deaf and Hard of Hearing Association would like to wish everybody a very happy Christmas and say a very big thank you to all who supported and donated to us as we signed carols and Christmas songs in the arc last Saturday.

The atmosphere from passers-by kept everybody going and a huge total of £800.30p was raised.

A big thank you also to Wagamama who very kindly came out on to Charter square with pots of warm free food. This was very much appreciated on a very cold day.

Thank you also to Sam Parker who takes our booking every year and allows us to sign and fund-raise.

-- Bury St Edmunds Deaf Centre

BEATLES PRINTS RAISED £5,150

I would like to thank the Jacobs Allen staff and management, as well as the staff of West Suffolk Hospital Charity Christmas appeal, for their help in my being able to raise over £5,150,for two worthy causes, £4,000 for the St Nicholas Hospice Care via Jacobs Allen and £1,410 for West Suffolk Hospital’s Macmillan ward in memory of a dear friend, Jaquie Kovacs.

Sadly, due to the failing health of my 95-year-old mother, I have been unable to do as much charity work as I would have wished, but my mother was very supportive of the hospital as she has been a frequent visitor this year, and insisted that I donate my Beatles images to these worthy causes.

Tom Murray, Bury St Edmunds

PURSE WAS HANDED IN

I would like to thank the two kind and honest ladies who found my purse outside the Nutshell Pub in Bury St Edmunds on Monday, December 8, and handed it in to the Police Station. The thing that I was most upset about was losing the photographs of my grandchildren which were inside my purse. Many thanks yet again. It’s refreshing to know that in this economic climate there are kind and honest people about. God bless you both.

-- Sheila Rowell, via email

GENEROUS DONATIONS

I and my fellow members of the Cambridge branch of the Royal Marines Association would like to thank all those who supported our fund-raising event at Sainsbury’s supermarket, in Mildenhall. It made for a great day, meeting and talking to Sainsbury’s shoppers and raising a total of £344.97 for the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund.
The funds raised enables the association to support those Royal Marines seriously wounded and the widows and children of those killed in service, not only now but in some cases for many years to come. Some may need support for the rest of their lives.
The Cambridge RMA branch really appreciated the support and generosity of Mildenhall shoppers and our grateful thanks also go to the sainsbury’s management and staff, who made it all possible.
The Royal Marines Association meets in Cambridge at noon on the first Wednesday of the month, except January. To be kept advised of local RMA events or for further information, call 01223 264862 or email davidrogers@iib.ws

-- David Rogers, Secretary, Cambridge RMA