A selection of readers’ letters from the Bury Free Press of Friday, February 26.
COURT CLOSURE DECISION IS A REAL CONCERN
I wish to express my extreme disappointment concerning the decision of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to close the law court service in Bury St Edmunds.
County councillors from across the political spectrum have previously discussed this issue with me at length and as part of a full council motion we unanimously voiced our objection to this closure when we met in December 2015. I believe that taking away the means for locally delivered justice poses a significant impact on the residents of West Suffolk and beyond.
The Family Courts are a vital resource used regularly by Suffolk County Council to ensure that the best interests of Suffolk’s children and families are achieved. This important work is demonstrated by our recent Ofsted judgement for providing Good Children’s Services. By moving this function to Ipswich, it will become increasingly difficult for families from West Suffolk to attend court and make representations. Proceedings in the future are also likely to be delayed unnecessarily due to a lack of available court time.
I am proud of the success of Suffolk County Council’s Trading Standards team which has brought many prosecutions against rogue traders to the Magistrates’ Court in Bury. It is important that residents know that should they report rogue trading, these people will be brought to justice swiftly and successfully. Unfortunately some cases are already taking longer to come to court and there is a risk that by removing local courts in this way, delays will be extended further. The Court orders required by authorities to act swiftly and take action are often required at short notice to prevent illegal activity and a centralised function is likely to slow this process further.
I truly believe that the local delivery of justice should involve local magistrates, local police, local probation services and local statutory services. If the location of the justice system is away from where the offence occurs it hugely disadvantages victims, witnesses, and defendants, as well as those interested in such cases including the media who may not have the resources to report on cases happening out of their area of jurisdiction.
I am very concerned that this decision leaves Suffolk with one of the worst court provisions in the country. In Suffolk, the number of magistrates’ courts has fallen from 12 in the 1990’s to the current proposal of one for the whole county. This is a step too far and ignores the preventative effect of good public services on the local community.
-- Colin Noble, Leader, Suffolk County Council
COUNTY WILL BE LEFT WITH JUST ONE MAGISTRATES’ COURT
What a tragedy that Bury Magistrates’ Court is to be closed, leaving the whole county with only one court in Ipswich.
There has been a court of law in this town for at least 800 years and Justices of the Peace have been sitting since 1349. The system of ordinary members of the local community sitting in judgement on offenders who walk the same pavements in this town has worked well and is very much in the spirit of Magna Carta.
The numbers of courts in Suffolk has steadily diminished so that local justice has virtually disappeared. When I started as a JP in 1982 there were six courts in West Suffolk. In a few months time there will be none.
Defendants, witnesses, lawyers and magistrates will have to get to Ipswich. How many Bury folk are likely to volunteer as JPs under those circumstances? The number of JPs nationally has dropped by 24 per cent since 2009 and continues to decline.
We are told that the reason for closure of Bury court is financial, but I’m sure there is a deeper reason. Corpus Juris is the European legal system in which there is no place for lay justices and that’s the way we seem to be heading. A court house does not need to be a sophisticated building and it would have been easy to provide such premises somewhere in Bury.
-- Dr Dick Soper, Great Saxham
ACCESS TO JUSTICE WILL BE MORE DIFFICULT
The Government’s decision to close 86 courts across the country, including the local court here, is devastating news for families. Parents and children need to be able to access to the justice system – this decision will make that more difficult.
Closing courts may make sense on a Government spreadsheet, but the reality is that on the ground it will have a profound impact on local people who require courts at a deeply emotional and difficult time in their life. Many who use the courts are vulnerable and of limited means. For these people to be told they now have to travel to a court miles away in another town will cause them further avoidable stress, and additional costs which will be prohibitive for many. The system is already struggling due to a combination of funding cuts, fewer judges and an increase in the number of people representing themselves in the family court.
That is why Resolution is calling on the Government to reconsider, and instead come forward with detailed plans for modernising family courts across the country, before any court closes its doors for good.
-- Jo Edwards, Chair, Resolution, Family law organisation
PEOPLE SHOULD BE DISCOURAGED FROM HAVING PARROTS
Re your article by Laura Smith in BFP 12 February entitled “Charity birds not welcome”.
I would like to congratulate Mark Cordell and Ourburyst edmunds for their excellent decision not to allow A1 Parrot Rescue to display live birds at this year’s planned events, on the grounds that they need too much space and are quite noisy.
The article goes on to explain that 124 of these unfortunate creatures were rescued by A1 Parrot Rescue in 2015 and 17 so far this year. For that reason alone I feel the decision not to display, and therefore advertise, these poor misfortunate birds in a public arena is a very good one.
I have seen the birds in Bury town centre before, and they always attract a crowd around them – but surely this is simply exacerbating the problem by encouraging some misguided people into thinking it would be a good idea to buy these exotic birds, only to abandon them when they discover how difficult it is to keep them and just how very noisy they can be.
No, quite simply, exotic birds should be left as nature intended, that is, in the wild, in the countries to which they are native. It’s not right on any level to put such magnificent creatures into cages for the perceived fun of hearing them copying us humans speaking. For this reason alone I would like to thank Ourburystedmunds for a very wise decision, even though their reasoning differs from mine.
It’s ridiculous of Coralie Mainwaring, the founder of this charity, to claim that her stall will not get noticed without live birds on display. How on earth does she think the other charities manage to get noticed?
After all, you don’t see animals displayed at the RSPCA stall for example, or injured, sick and dying people at any of the medical-related charitable stalls, do you? The aim of A1 Parrot Rescue should be to discourage folk from buying such birds and then there won’t be so many to be rescued.
-- Sheila Burke, Bury St Edmunds
PROBABLY BEST TO SPREAD THE LOAD
I read with interest the letter from Chris Sutton in last week’s Bury Free Press, and found myself in agreement with most of what he said, although I didn’t follow the reasoning behind closing off Rougham Hill where it joins Rushbrooke Lane – surely that’s the route most residents would continue to use, and would also be needed for access to the new homes, if/when they are built “opposite” the existing Household Waste Recycling Centre.
However, I’m coming round to the view that trying to find a site for one, huge central hub is causing so many problems that perhaps we’d be better off leaving things pretty much as they are. The concentration of vehicle movements and the mix of cars, vans and large trucks all trying to come and go from the same site all day long is clearly going to cause huge problems anywhere round Bury – the roads just aren’t built for that level of traffic.
Then there’s the need to find a site large enough to accommodate all the facilities, to locate it near enough to the A14 to ease lorry access and yet far enough away from residential areas (which will be expanding significantly over the next five to 10 years). Overall it’s probably an advantage to spread the load around several sites. I’d say.
Adding to what already exists at Rougham Hill would seem to be a far better solution, even if there’s not room for the whole thing. The possibility of a short-cut from there to the A14 east of Bury would also be an advantage, knocking miles off each trip and avoiding getting the heavier lorries bound up right round the town. Whatever changes are needed at Rougham, whilst they need to be budgeted for, would almost certainly be a lot less than buying greenfield land and constructing a shiny new prestigious hub at Hollow Road.
But is there in fact a secret deal behind all this? Has the council indeed been influenced by the proposed development of new homes at Rougham Hill, as suggested in the other letter on this subject from Brian Colman ? And questions certainly need to be asked as to why the council went ahead and secured a £50,000 option on the Hollow Road site and spent a further £50,000 on “development costs” before consultation had taken place.
I do hope that, after being forced to open the debate to a wider audience, the council will have the good grace to publish the responses, and take them into consideration when deciding the next steps.
-- John P Bottle, School Road, Thurston
IT’S NOT A NEWS SERVICE, JUST LESS
Today I was so angry to receive my, “End of your brown bin service,” letter from Forest Heath & St Edmundsbury councils.
There is no way to spread out the payments, they want the £40 charge up front. Not many families or pensioners will be able to afford that.
The cheek of them calling this “our new service,” It’s not new, just less.
Why stop taking cardboard and shredded paper?
It seems to me that the council have thought long and hard on how to turn us off using the brown bin. They obviously want to end the service, but don’t want to take the blame.
I can just hear them saying “there was so little take up, it is no longer viable to run this service that so few people want.”
Then it will be ALL OUR FAULT.
-- Gill Malik, Blomfield Street, Bury St Edmunds
I’LL CHARGE FOR STORAGE
I have just had a letter delivered today referring to the ending of the current brown bin service.I wish to state that the residents of (XX) Baldwin Avenue, Bury St Edmunds, do not wish to use the service after April 3.
We also do not intend keeping your brown bin on our land after this time. However, if you wish to store your equipment on our land after 3rd April 2016 ,we are willing to do this for a fee of £40 per year.If you do not wish to take up this service I wish you to collect your equipment by 4th April.
Should you not collect by this date then I would have to start charging you a 9.125p per day storage fee. Should I need to deliver the bin/equipment to your property, I would have to charge a £40 delivery fee.
Bury St Edmunds
MORE WATSTE WILL GO IN BLACK BINS
We have today received a leaflet with our post from the council regarding the end of the brown bin collection service. Although I do not object to having to pay a little extra for this service (stated as £40; I doubt this amount will be deducted from our usual council tax bill), I am very surprised to see that what we can actually put in the bin to be recycled has dramatically altered.
I read the leaflet and thought maybe they had just missed some of the things off. I went online to the website given on the leaflet and found that that still says the same as we can put in at present. Confused, I thought I would check with the council, so I phoned them. The leaflet is correct, obviously they haven’t changed their website! (Very misleading).
No longer can you put shredded paper or plain cardboard in them and no kitchen waste, tea bags and coffee grounds etc. It states you can put in fruit and veg from your garden but what about vegetable peelings that you purchase! I was told on the phone that the new collectors do not have the facility for these items. Surely if we are having to pay for the service the council should be able to employ someone who can do the job equally as well as they were doing if not better, otherwise why change? I was told I didn’t have to use the service and could take my waste to the council site. Not everybody has the means to do this, and it will mean more and more waste going into the black bins and back to landfill. I thought the plan was to reduce this.
-- Lesley Burroughs, via email
DISMAY OVER CARAVAN PARK
I’m writing to express my dismay at the St Edmundsbury planning decision to allow a 100-pitch camp/caravan site at West Stow Country Park.
The vote was in favour despite the overwhelming objections of the local community and the local Parish Council. One of the big arguments in favour of the plan was that it would raise money to help the ailing West Stow Country Park. Why not sort out what’s wrong that enterprise, instead of tagging another probable loss making business onto it? We have seen no business plan but the start-up costs of something like this must be hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Cllr Pugh said he believed the project had “the ability to do more good than harm”. This has patently not been proved – what possible good can come of it? It won’t improve a beautiful area of countryside and it won’t do anything for the resident wildlife.
Cllr Stevens said that “not everyone who used the site would be irresponsible”. I don’t believe any of the objectors mentioned this but it is a good point. In a badly-managed site, it would only take one or two antisocial people to cause upset – not to mention a badly behaved dog, so close to the breeding grounds of Suffolk Wildlife reserve.
My last point is one of procedure. Why, if Cllr Glossop, who expressed an interest, spoke against the proposal and excused herself from the vote, did others who voted for the proposal, not do the same, having also expressed an interest ?
-- Tony Bate, The Street, Culford
PATIENTS BEFORE PAPERWORK
I see that The Victoria Surgery (where I practised for 38 years) has been visited by the Quality Care Commission.
Although it has had a good report from patients regarding their medical care and their treatment by staff, who are “compassionate, caring and treat them with dignity”, the CCQ is not satisfied. It says that the surgery “requires improvement” because its audit trails are not up to standard.
Do these bureaucrats in the CCQ really think that in these difficult times for GPs, that they should spend more of their time getting paper trails in place than giving patients the best care ?
-- Dr Dick Soper, Great Saxham
USE OF ANIMALS IS A CONCERN TO ME
I am concerned about the continued use of animals in medical research, and urge the government to invest more money into replacing animals in research.
There were 3.87 million scientific procedures using animals in 2014 in the UK. Mice, rabbits, dogs, primates, cats and other animals are used in the safety-testing of new products, or in the development of new drugs and the study of human disease.
I believe that such animal experiments are both morally unacceptable and scientifically unsound. Animals are not laboratory tools, they are sentient beings, capable of experiencing pain, fear, loneliness, frustration and sadness. To imprison animals and deliberately inflict pain on them is morally indefensible.
Animals make poor models of human disease, mainly because of the biological differences between species, with the results from experiments on animals frequently proving to be misleading and unreliable when applied to humans.
Cancer Research UK acknowledges: ‘We do trials in people because animal models do not predict what will happen in humans’. Ninety two percent of new drugs that work well in animal studies go on to fail when they are first given to people in clinical trials.
A range of non-animal research methods already exists and human-based methods such as the use of human cells, tissue and segments of DNA provide more reliable results than animal experiments, because they apply to people, and not animals. There are other techniques including computer modelling, microdosing, the use of sophisticated scanners and clinical and epidemiological studies.
With this in mind, I urge the Government to do all it can to significantly increase funding for human-relevant, non-animal research projects and to call for the use of such methods to replace animal experiments.
-- M Roberts , Valerian Rise, Thetford