A selection of readers’ letters from the Bury Free Press of Friday, July 1.
ENOUGH OF THE RECRIMINATIONS
What a brilliant referendum result, especially for those of us who have been campaigning for decades for our ‘Day of Independence’ from Brussels.
I am thoroughly saddened by the reaction and attitudes of some of the Remain supporters (especially when local poster sites have been maliciously damaged and trashed in the run up to the vote).
The Brexiteers have had to be conciliatory to the opposition. If the Leave side had lost, then yes, I would have been very disappointed indeed, but would have accepted the democratic decision.
I would not have been part of a baying mob throwing personal insults around at the likes of Boris or others, after the result. Enough of the recriminations please. Let’s now pull together, believe in Britain and look to your future in unity.
-- Ian Smith, Bury St Edmunds
When analysing the reasons for the result of the E U referendum, the role of David Cameron should be seen as central to the defeat of Remain.
Having spent six years as Prime Minister he has invariably been reported in the media as saying he was attending EU meetings to ‘defend British interests’ and ‘battling for Britain’. Such an attitude has inevitably helped to create the totally false impression that our EU neighbours and the EU institutions are somehow ‘ganging up’ and bent on acting against the interests of the UK. It has, equally inevitably, been used by the anti-EU sections of the popular press to support their twisted view of the EU. It has created an impression of division and antagonism, not co-operation.
His inelegant scurrying round Europe trying to get EU countries and the Commission to create a ‘special status’ for the UK merely produced a patently second-class membership of the EU ‘club’ for the UK, with us not joining in large chunks of its activities, yet allegedly still enjoying the same influence, and still paying the same rate of subscription. (Did this not look like trying to sell a second hand car for the price of a new one?) Worse, David Cameron’s then conversion to EU enthusiast on the basis of his dubious deal looked totally unconvincing when set against his previous antagonism.
With this uninspiring background, Remain’s arguments were essentially based on personal economic self-interest, based on sets of figures entirely unverifiable by the ordinary citizen. All Leave had to do was cast doubt on them, by producing an alternative set of equally unverifiable ones, but the resulting effect was uncertainty. Leave’s obvious passion, relentless determination and nationalistic appeal, happily publicised by the anti-EU press, was simply unmatchable. The vision of pulling up the drawbridge and excluding all unwelcome persons and international obligations (unless of course in our ‘national interest’) was superficially attractive, even though it is anachronistic, selfish, xenophobic, and totally out of touch with the modern world.
The alternative approach which Remain never even attempted was to argue for full commitment to, and full involvement and co-operation with, our U partners, and thereby seeking solutions to problems jointly. That this was not central to Mr Cameron’s premiership, and not repeatedly projected and explained publicly, is the central reason for Remain’s failure. Its MEPs, MPs and Ministers (with some honourable exceptions) seemed almost non-existent, instead of providing examples of good things done through the EU and explanations of how it works and what it does. It lacked vision, enthusiasm, inspiration, commitment. This sadly will be illustrated by the number of Remain MPs who will now change sides and vote Brexit at the Government’s bidding.
There is however a glimmer of light: the Council of Europe, the result of Winston Churchill’s vision and inspiration. The UK was a founding member, and the referendum does not alter our position. We will still fully belong. Its achievements include a series of international conventions, in particular the European Convention on Human Rights (1950), and the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (1979) which is reflected for the EU in the ‘Nature Directives’. Both are binding on the UK, though only the former has a court to oblige compliance. It has been somewhat neglected by recent UK governments. Surely here is a route through which the UK could demonstrate, through full involvement with the council’s projects and activities, a willingness and ability to act with our European neighbours in a co-operative way, and begin to un do the damage done by Mr Cameron’s disastrous behaviour towards them.
-- Nicholas Crampton, Mundford
TELL US REASONS, IF NOT IMMIGRATION
If it wasn’t for the fact that the events we have witnessed over the last week are so overwhelmingly depressing, it would make a fascinating study in the ability, if the appetite is there and the political climate right, to convince a nation, against all the odds and prior warnings, to vote for a lie. The conclusion would be that not only is it possible but that we have seen it happen before in Europe’s modern history.
In the days following the vote we have seen leave voters from towns such as Ramsgate to Ebbw Vale, say how thrilled they are that we can take back control of our borders; we have witnessed examples, on Twitter and Facebook, of hatred and xenophobia directed at immigrants from within the EU and from outside the EU; we have seen T-shirts carrying anti-immigration slogans.
Those same social networking sites are filled with leave voters shouting ‘it was never about immigration, it was about all the other reasons to vote to leave’.
Well, now is your chance to stand up, and loudly and proudly explain what these reasons were. The markets have plummeted, jobs are at risk, but surely you can spin it in a positive light? House prices will fall. This is good, right? Interest rates may go up to incentivise holding sterling. This is good for our savings, right? So where are you? State all those reasons, not based on immigration, which led you to vote to leave. And while you are there, you can loudly take a stand and condemn the appalling acts of hate we are witnessing. Please make people feel welcome, tell them that you do not support these sentiments. There is silence. It speaks so loudly.
-- Katherine Wells, via email
YOU MADE THE WRONG DECISION FOR US
I’m emailing in regards to the EU referendum. I am 15 years old and, quite frankly, I don’t have a voice. I couldn’t vote in this referendum even though it is my future in the balance.
The media are interviewing business leaders, politicians; anyone apart from the people who really care – my generation.
I am about to have to grow up in a country with a poor economy and difficult trade in isolation from the rest of the world, down to people presuming the EU is purely there to ship immigrants into our country to ‘steal jobs and benefits’.
I am going to have to fix this mistake.
When I woke up this morning, the amount of upset Facebook posts I saw from people of all ages, but particularly my age, was overwhelming. People really care and were really invested in this vote. I feel angry that my generation have been cheated by older people who have lived their working lives and quite frankly will be gone before it gets better for them to see any positive impacts – if there are any at all!
I’m not a politician. I’m not a particularly avid follower of politics, but I am a debater. And as I debated in the four assemblies the past week on this issue, I saw 10 people out of the 600 or so in all assemblies vote to leave. We want to stay. I want to give people my age a voice. If it’s not me, I want someone to let people know that we aren’t all lazing around at home. We want people to know we care about the EU referendum, and we care about the fact you made the wrong decision for us.
-- Lucy Cooper, Bury St Edmunds
YOUNG PEOPLE DESERVED BETTER
I am always interested in the views expressed by the King Edward’s School students on your Youth View page and was particularly impressed by Tom Williams’ article (Bury Free Press, June 24). Here is a young
man, highly intelligent and well-informed who has contributed a very well-written and persuasive piece relating to the recent EU Referendum and, yet, at 17 was denied the right to vote. Can this be right ?
Moreover, it is Tom and his generation who, if the analysts are correct, are being taken out of the EU against their wishes by the elderly who are less likely to experience the consequences. Can this be right ?
I am 92 and voted to Remain as I am old enough to remember what the unbridled nationalisms of the 1930s led us to. The EU was designed successfully to help in preventing this from happening again and I am amazed that so many older people have, apparently, been unable to see this. Tom and other young men and women deserve better.
May I just add that although I don’t know much about King Edward’s, they are obviously doing an excellent job in helping to educate students as thoughtful as Tom Williams. And I also enjoy the occasional article by their headmaster!
-- Peter Newton, via email
GARDENS ARE NOW LOOKING BEAUTIFUL
Inreply to Gav Roberts’ letter about the Abbey Gardens (Bury Free Press, June 24), there is a period, end of May beginning of June, when the winter/spring plants are changed to summer bedding flowers.
It is now the last week of June and the gardeners have just finished planting the summer flowers. Considering the awful weather they have been working in, the gardens are looking as beautiful as ever all edged and perfect. Well done gardeners, credit to you all ,
As for the bird poo on the seats, the seats are still as filthy as ever. I did complain last summer to a female park warden and was told it wasn’t their job,
So please, all you coachloads who come to visit the gardens, I am sure you will not be disappointed. If you find a poo-free seat, please sit and view the gardens.
The gardens are free for all to view, no charge like the National Trust.
-- Trevor Webber, via email
TELLTALE SIGNS OF FAILURE
My job as the Opposition Spokesperson for Health & Adult Care at Suffolk County Council has been to hold the administration to account on its record of caring for Suffolk’s elderly. I have too often heard heartbreakingly sad stories of service failure, and seen the evidence with my own eyes. Many times it’s been drawn to my attention that lessons which could have, and should have, been learned from the past have been ignored.
What saddens me most, though, is that everyone – be it central government or the administration at Suffolk County Council – seems to be blissfully ignoring the tell tail signs of impending and severe systemic failure of Suffolk’s Care Homes.
By turning the care of our nation’s elderly in to a ‘market’, the quality of care in our residential homes depends entirely on the profit that can be made from them. However, while some residents are self-funding, the majority are either partially or entirely sponsored by the state. Therefore, a care home’s profitability depends in large part on the rates paid to care providers by local government.
When we consider that the regional average cost incurred for keeping one elderly resident in a care home comes to £31,000 per year, and that the average rate paid by Suffolk County Council comes to around £19,000 per year, it is easy to see why running a care home is notoriously difficult. This situation is only getting worse, as government cuts force local authorities to cut services again and again.
In 2012, the county council took the decision to sell all the council-run care homes. The result of this unwise course of action is that, in the event of provider failure (be it an ‘Inadequate’ rating, or closure), the council must organise alternative accommodation for affected residents. This necessitates continuous communication and negotiation with providers, but this can go wrong for a number of reasons (there can be a break down in communications, a care home could be full, or a provider may just be unwilling to take on any new residents that are not self-funding).
Keeping several care homes under council control would have provided a simple and easy fall-back position, should the worst happen. This means that Suffolk is less able to meet its legal duty of care in these situations.
The care homes with the best ratings are generally charitably or not for profit family run care homes, the issues inevitably arise when big companies see the chance to make a quick profit out of the vulnerable and then move on to their next pickings.
How long will BUPA, Barchester, Care UK et al continue in the care market?
I believe we have a moral responsibility to ensure that we have nothing but the best possible care for elderly residents. But with a fast growing population and more financial strain than ever on care providers, the question is: is Suffolk County Council prepared for the challenge?
-- Sarah Adams, Opposition Spokesperson for Health & Adult Care at Suffolk County Council
CAR HIT DOG BUT DID NOT STOP
On Tuesday, June 21, at approximately 4.30pm, a speeding vehicle driving from Bury St Edmunds rounded the bend on Nowton Road by the Nowton village sign and killed a much-loved dog.
The driver must have seen, felt and heard what had happened but drove on regardless without stopping to help.
Shame on you!
My daughter was left on her own with a dying dog and two distraught little children. Shame on you!
-- Rosie Phillips, Bury St Edmunds
ACCIDENTS ARE TOO COMMON
What is it about the length of the A1066 between Diss and Thetford along which so many drivers leave the road? It is such a common occurrence.
I frequently drive along the stretch between Garboldisham and Thetford and it distresses me to see cars in ditches and fields, half-way up poles or crumpled at the side of the road. I fear being innocently caught up in one of these incidents by just being in the vicinity.
Inexperienced or plain bad drivers tend to blame ice or rain on the road surface but incidents occur for no obvious reason.
For example, last Sunday June 26), at about 7pm in bright light and on a nearly empty, drying, road, a car ended up on its roof in a field midway between Garboldisham and Riddlesworth. Why?
Perhaps Norfolk Traffic Police would care to comment on why they think this quite reasonable stretch of rural road is the scene of so many accidents – and what needs to be done to improve matters.
-- Robert Ford, via email