Selection of readers’ letters from the Bury Free Press of Friday, February 21.
NO DISABLED ACCESS AT REBUILT CUPOLA HOUSE
Our powers that be have decided not to install disabled access when rebuilding Cupola House after the devastating fire in 2012. Yes – there was no disabled access before but this is the 21st century when we should not penalise the disabled and treat them as second class citizens. The front façade, over the years, has had many changes, including the entrance which could be modified to allow access to all.
You can leave your views/suggestions/facts on Facebook. Go to www.facebook.com and search for ‘Cupola House Bury’ – the one you want has the fire as the profile picture.
Alternatively write to the Leader of our council before it is too late!
-- S C Harding, Bury St Edmunds
POWER SHOULD BE DEVOLVED
The response to the present flooding in certain areas of the country is, to my mind, just one more example of the failure of our whole system of government. For decades, politicians of all persuasions have drawn power from the regions to Westminster, and have pursued policies of micro-management in nearly all of the important sectors of our national life.
We need real power, devolved to regions – as in Germany. Local people know better than Westminster politicians what local issues are and how best to deal with them. Westminster politicians are best dealing with issues that affect the nation as a whole. At the moment, our system seems to have fallen between two stools.
Our system of government has survived so long because it embraced change when change was needed. Our system must change again if it is not to become unfit for purpose.
-- Martin Webb, via email
SHORT STAY PARKING
I would like to highlight the lack of short-term parking facilities at West Suffolk Hospital (WSH). On two occasions recently I needed to visit WSH, to collect a patient after general anaesthetic and again to drop off a sample. Both visits consisted of less than 10 minutes. How much did this cost me? 50p, 80p, no £3.30. This is scandalous. Surely a less expensive charge of, say, 50p for such occasions could be be introduced. Just remembered, I live in Rip Off Britain!
-- Dave Hartley, Stanton
CASH COUL DBE USED TO FIX ROAD
I was pleased to read the letter by Cllr Sandy Martin who confirmed what I already had heard via another councillor, that Suffolk County Council has around £150 million in reserves (Letters, January 31).
I was also interested to read that the A14 is to have another pedestrian and cycle footbridge. This will assist cyclists ‘to ride from the rail bridge in Out Northgate to Tollgate Lane without the need to dismount.
These lucky cyclists and pedestrians, who will avoid having to travel via Northgate Street and Fornham Road, will no longer have the inconvenience of having to take evasive action outside 113 Fornham Road where the rainwater regularly pools.
When travelling in my car I am aware and try to be considerate to any pedestrians and cyclists when passing this hazard by avoiding going through the flooded area (traffic permitting), thus preventing soaking any unsuspecting travellers.
I look forward to the day when this area of carriageway is fixed properly once and for all. Let’s hope that funds will be released from the Suffolk County Council coffers for this minor project.
-- Ian Smith, Bury St Edmunds
TICKETS ARE TOO CHEAP
I note the Apex proudly announced it is under-budget so far this year. That’s good, because this massively overspent millstone around the necks of the Council Tax-payer is an embarrassment. I’ve never seen any justification for the initial £18.5 million cost, or the ongoing £15,000 a week subsidy. After all, Stowmarket only spent £18 million on building a link road, railway bridge, new road junction and 28 sets of traffic lights.
Has anyone done the sums? There’s a 500 seated or 750 standing capacity, averaging about 600 tickets per show. Even at the low prices charged for some of the world’s biggest acts, such as Geno Washington at £15, and only assuming they sell 70per cent, that should mean tickets sales of around £13,000 per week. A total income, with the subsidy, of close to £56,000 for the two weeks from February 7-20. This ignores any other rental income, bar sales, catering sales etc, which must add another few thousand a week. Can somebody please explain how such a small venue can possibly cost nearly £28,000 a week to operate?
Could the subsidy be reduced by charging realistic ticket prices? Artists including Steve Harley, Focus and Wishbone Ash have all performed here. In Brandon Forest these acts command ticket prices of close to £40 per head, selling thousands. Why is The Apex charging less than £20?
There are only 51 events listed this year so that should produce ticket sales of around £350,000, double at realistic prices. Stage two events per week instead of one and you get £1.4 million.
Are they taking the mick, or will someone publish a justification of this and explain when this massive loss making project will stand on its own two feet?
-- Paul Saunders, Chevington
PLANNING CHOICES HITTING WILDLIFE
I read with interest the article ‘There’s a new killer in our gardens’, by Mike Toms (Bury Free Press, February 7) and concur wholeheartedly with his findings.
For the short-sighted people who believe sparrowhawks, and other birds of prey, are responsible for the decline in our smaller bird populations they need to take a look at the bigger picture, as this is far from true.
Why are these birds declining? The truth is that the ‘human birds of prey’, aka council planners, are allowing our greenfield areas to be built on. The design and density of new-build sites does not offer nesting opportunities.
We live on the edge of Stowmarket and Mid Suffolk District Council has given planning permission for the greenfield area to the rear of our property to be developed, providing nearly 1,000 new-builds, a school and trading area. Unless something is done to prevent more of our greenfields being diminished in this way then it will have a catastrophic effect on the future of our bird and animal population as a whole.
As fervent wildlife lovers, both my husband and I encourage birds and other wildlife into our garden by regular feeding and provision of a nest box, a bat box and bird baths. We have a resident bluetit which roosts every night in the bat box. We also have a sparrowhawk which visits our garden occasionally and we are alerted to this fact by the alarm calls of the garden birds. Unfortunately, this cannot be said of the domestic cat who doesn’t have a bell on its collar to warn garden birds of its presence and would therefore urge cat owners to take responsibility for this. We have yet to witness a sparrowhawk take a garden bird but we have witnessed cats taking them. They do not kill the bird outright like a bird of prey would but rather ‘play with and torment’ it, in what can only be described as a barbaric act of predation, but when ‘Tiddles’ goes home he is fed and watered, unlike a bird of prey who has to hunt for its food to survive.
Like all other endangered wildlife on this planet, albeit due to illegal poaching or hunting for sport, diminishing greenfield and woodland areas by over-development, the threat of extinction is very real and one day, when the wildlife is no more, the human race will say, ‘Oh dear, what a shame, we should have acted sooner’.
-- Name and address supplied
FILED IS A GREEN LUNG FOR TOWN
Your report (Bury Free Press, February 7) refers to the Vision 2031 inquiry and the proposal to develop land near the town centre known as the Leg of Mutton field. I write to oppose this proposal as strongly as I can. This field is an invaluable green lung for the people of Bury, with its two rivers nearby and its abundant wildlife. In these days of increasing development in and around every town, it is vital not to waste this natural resource, which is what would happen for ever if any development at all were to be allowed. Philip Larkin sounded a warning in his poem Going, Going: It seems, just now,
To be happening so very fast,
Despite all the land left free
For the first time I feel somehow
That it isn’t going to last, That before I snuff it, the whole
Boiling will be bricked in
Except for the tourist parts –
First slum of Europe: a role
It won’t be so hard to win,
With a cast of crooks and tarts. And that will be England gone,
... all that remains
For us will be concrete and tyres.
For all our sakes, let this call be heeded, and never allow this very special field to be developed.
-- Gordon Cawthorne, Bury St Edmunds