READERS’ LETTERS: From the Bury Free Press of Friday, February 12

RAF Mildenhall

RAF Mildenhall

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A selection of readers’ letters from the Bury Free Press of Friday, February 12.

CLOSURE IS AN OPPORTUNITY

Is it very sad that, by the end of the decade, the US Air Force will pull out of RAF Mildenhall? Or is it a great opportunity about to be missed?

What you have at RAF Mildenhall (IATA Code is MHZ) is a fully operational cargo handling airport employing trained UK nationals, a runway that can take any size aircraft and supporting buildings available for both offices and community expansion usage.

What the UK does not have is enough take-off and landing slots at the five airports serving London hence the decision to build another runway at Heathrow. To relieve the pressure of too few take-off and landing slots at London’s airports why not make the most of a ready to go asset, Mildenhall Air Base. There you have the opportunity to operate this excellent facility as an all-cargo airport. It could handle all freight/cargo traffic currently using up take-off and landing slots at London’s airports.

Of course, across the county, there is the second largest container port in Europe – Felixstowe. Just up the road is Ely which has rail connectivity to the whole of the UK. With some investment in road and rail infrastructure in Suffolk, a cargo handling triangle could be formed that would not only save jobs but considerably increase employment in the county. There is no reason why this bold plan should be delayed until 2019 as the current tenants could be encouraged to hasten the vacation process.

If there really is going to be a massive housing development dropped on to poor little Beck Row, what will happen. To start with, all those people currently working at the airport will lose their jobs. Next will come the lawyers for the developers claiming money from the Government to clean up harmful pollutants found on the site. Then, where are all these new house owners going to find work? I can understand Molesworth and Alconbury being developed because of their connectivity to growth areas of employment but why MHZ? In the short term it will look enticing to local and county councils and the Government for revenue purposes but you can’t get revenue out of people with no jobs. Chicken and egg situation? No, in this case the egg has already cracked and the chicken is there to be developed. Whatever happens, the Government will have to turn the A14 into a motorway to service the additional traffic.

Sadly, I feel that I have taken on the role of a latter day Don Quixote and my windmills are firmly embedded in Whitehall.

-- Timothy J Moore, via email

SCHEME SHOULD NOT GO AHEAD

A disastrous decision by the planning department at St Edmundsbury Council has allowed the construction of a caravan site at West Stow Country Park in spite of 98 per cent of respondents being against the plan.

This area of endangered Breckland is an important buffer zone between Lackford Lakes and the forest.

There will be condsiderable disruption while the infrastructure is put in place and significant pressure on our already badly eroded and over-used local road system.

I have written to our MP Matthew Hancock and through your paper hope to gather more public support to get this scheme abolished.

-- Gail Bate, Culford

HOLLOW ROAD SITE DOESN’T ADD UP

The decision about where to put the new West Suffolk Waste Hub is causing residents and councillors much concern.

To be fair, there is much to take into consideration. It needs to have easy access to the A14 to allow onward transmission to Great Blakenham. It needs to be able to cope with 1,000 traffic movements per day and yet have minimal impact on existing traffic flow within Bury St Edmunds. Should both units be incorporated on one site or not? All this without taking account of the huge cost in purchasing the additional land required.

The proposed Hollow Road Farm site would certainly appear to be the very worst option. Apart from any other factor just imagine the gridlock with all those additional vehicles circulating round the ‘Tesco’ roundabout. However, on the Suffolk County Council assessment comparing Tut Hill and Hollow Road Farm, the latter comes out way ahead.

What a pity there is no single site within the borough which could square this circle and still be as successful as is the existing Rougham Hill site.

Hold on, that’s a novel idea. There is a lot of unused brown-field land within the area bordered by Rougham Hill road and the A14. There is also a huge lorry park just opposite. That gives the option of essentially having two sites on the one parcel of land, all of which is already owned by SCC so it can be used at minimal cost. Rougham Hill itself used to be the old Ipswich Road and although overgrown it is still there and separated from the A14 by no more than a strip of hedging, so could easily be reinstated.

A new roundabout is already to be constructed about a half a mile to the east of Bury. That means that all traffic could enter the site from the east off the A 14. A new bridge or underpass sited at the top of Rougham Hill could be used to exit in an easterly direction back down towards the new roundabout. To ensure no impact on existing traffic flow, Rougham Hill could be closed off at its junction with Rushbrook Lane.

When I assessed this site using SCC’s own criteria in their Consultation Document it came out with a score of +24 against only +7 for Hollow Road Farm. Not living near either of the original proposed sites I don’t think I am biased, but do your own calculation and see what you get.

Can I just urge that whichever site you prefer, please make your comments known to SCC because make no mistake wherever it goes it will have some impact on you and your daily life even if only on your Council Tax bill.

-- Chris Sutton, Risby

PERMISSION WAS PREVIOUSLY REFUSED

Robert Hughes (Letters, January 22) was full of praise for St Edmundsbury Borough Council and its chief planning officer for selecting Hollow Road Farm as their preferred site for the waste hub. I take it that Mr Hughes does not live anywhere near the site and so is unlikely to be affected by the thousands of vehicle movements a year which would be on top of the sugar beet and grain lorries as well as the HGVs, agricultural tractors and trailers, vans, private cars and motor bikes that use the road on a regular basis.

Mr Hughes , in keeping with various councillors, ignores the fact that this site was refused planning permission in December 2001 and, I believe, is outside the development area as set out by the council. The government has previously stated that commercial vehicles and private cars shouldn’t use the same site because of the very high risk of accidents.

When Hollow Road was first reported in the press as the preferred site, the planning officer suggested that if people wished to comment on it that they should hurry up as the planning application was being submitted within a few days and an option to purchase had been secured with a deposit of £25000. This figure was later amended to £50,000 plus another £50,000 that had been spent on development costs up to that point. There was never any mention of how much money had been wasted on the Rougham Road site. Could it be that the change to the Hollow Road Farm site was influenced by the developers of the planned Rougham Road housing indicating that they would be seeking to pay a reduced level of the 106 agreement levy for houses opposite a waste hub? The recent comments from council leader John Griffiths stating that a number of people would be disappointed by the council’s final choice of site indicate that a decision has already been reached and little effort has been spent looking at more sensible sites. Of course, a change of location could end up with Council Taxpayers looking for resignations from the people wasting their tax money. As I recall from my years in contracting within the construction industry, an option to buy means that failure to complete the contract means forfeiture of all or most of the option money. Looking at some of the developments that have already gone on in Bury St Edmunds, including a number of dangerously placed pedestrian crossings, the massive new extensions to West Suffolk College with no improved parking facilities so students are parking all over the area and resident parking permits where parking is on both sides of some roads such as Queen’s Road, where public transport, lorries, vans and cars are fighting to get through, I think the chief planning officer needs to get out more, as do our councillors, and look at the near gridlocked state of the town at most times.

-- Brian Colman, Fornham St Martin

DITCHES MUST BE KEPT CLEAR

I must agree with Simon Harding regarding the flooding risks of building on flood plains (Letters, February 5).

We must also be aware of the dangers of neglecting the ditches and storm drains that have been dug and built over the years to protect the buildings that we already have. They were put where they are for good reasons. They should not have vegetation growing in them nor be allowed to be used as rubbish tips. The debris and rubbish that would block these should be cleared as it collects, not on a fixed time rota.

The rubbish that has collected in on the footpaths Great Barton on the A143 and side roads has not been cleared since before the leaves fell from the trees. Does that make sense?

There are two ditches in Gt Barton that contain running water, they are fed by springs. Do we have to wait until the flood happens and then listen to the lessons have been learned speech.

We need for the local authorities to except responsibility in writing for the maintenance of these potential flood risks.

As yet they are not responding to this request.

-- Andrew Hill, Great Barton

FUNDS HAVE GONE TO A GOOD CAUSE

Many people will remember Churchgate Showcase and the Street Fairs they instigated in Hatter Street in 2011 and 2012. The Big Street Dance in July 2012 was particularly memorable, celebrating both the London Olympics 2012 and the Rwandan Olympic Team, which was based in the town for their pre-Olympic preparations. Not only was that occasion graced by a visit from the Rwandan High Commissioner, but also a team of beautiful Rwandan dancers joined with other performers and stall holders in our Big Street Dance celebrations. These continued with a Barn Dance in the evening and an Afternoon Tea Dance the following afternoon.

The Churchgate Showcase Committee takes pride in the fact that during the years 2011-2014, not only has it brought an estimated 2,000 visitors to its streets during each of the Street Fairs, but also it jointly organised the first foray of the town’s Christmas Fayre into Hatter Street, it initiated the first Christmas Fayre Teastop in Churchgate’s Unitarian Meeting House and it collaborated with Bid4Bury and others to bring the Chilli Festival into Langton Place as part of the town’s Food and Drink Festival, all of which were so interesting, enjoyable, entertaining and fun. Since then it has mounted smaller, fund-raising events in the Unitarian Meeting House.

During this period the public contributed to our funds a total of £5,263.83 of which £1,576.28 was donated to the borough council’s Sport for Rwanda Appeal, and a total of £2,888.95 to essential building and repair work at the beautiful 1711 Unitarian Meeting House in Churchgate Street, which acts as our local community hall.

Sadly, the decision now has been made to terminate Showcase and its activities and, true to its aims of promoting and celebrating the historic centre of the town, its remaining funds of £798.70 have been donated to The Info Bar, in Whiting Street, a cyber café for people with disabilities, carers and family carers, and a town centre outreach of the Adult Training Centre in Hollow Road. This comes under the umbrella of the county’s Leading Lives organisation which does tremendous work county-wide. Leading Lives recently has been named Health and Social Care Social Enterprise of the Year in the Social Enterprise UK 2015 Awards.

Through your newspaper, please may I express our sincere thanks to all the residents, businesses, schools, and performers who supported us so generously with sponsorship, time, talents and gifts, to the borough and town councils for their much-valued support, to Bid4Bury for their wise advice and financial backing and to the public for joining in with us. Together we made it!

-- Marian Shaw, Churchgate Showcase Committee

ROYAL FAMILY ARE A CONSTANT

I was very interested to read young Alan Everett’s views on our social structure, with particular emphasis on the monarchy (Youth View, February 5). There was no need for him to draw a silly picture of HM The Queen and Prince Phillip in a golden coach accompanied by a marching band pulling up outside Tesco to do some shopping. At his tender age – no matter what he has learnt from books – he has not experienced the unbelievable social changes that have taken place in this country of ours, they are manifest and are far too many to mention here,but I would guess – quite rightly – he is used to all the trappings of modern living, which have all come about as a result of – often hard fought for – change.

During my lifetime, no matter what political party has been in power, leaning left, right or centre, the one constant has been the royal family, and it is to them – who have no say in the politics of the country – that we turn to in our times of celebration, and also in trouble and sadness.

Were we to put it to the vote, I would say without hesitation the overwhelming majority of people in this country would vote to keep the Monarchy, undoubtedly with the loss of some minor members of the family.

-- Brian Davies, Bury St Edmunds