A selection of readers’ letters from the Bury Free Press of Friday, March 18.
SHOCK AT LACK OF CONSULTATION
Following the articles in the Bury Free Press, this parish council would like to make the following points regarding the James Stiff Almshouses:
a) These almshouses were built in 1876 for the people of Rougham and have been continuously occupied since then.
b) The parish council was shocked and disappointed to discover that it had not been consulted by Havebury Housing Partnership regarding its plans.
c) The initial way the parish councillors heard about these plans was from the “gossip” in the Post Office.
d) Subsequent to this, Mr Taylor’s daughter visited the parish council chairman and showed him copies of the two letters received from Havebury.
e) The parish council then wrote to Havebury requesting information and, despite a reminder, no such information has been forthcoming.
f) All the tenants have been given life tenancies, including the most recent.
g) The first letter from Havebury on 21 January stated “the aim of the visit [25 January] is to discuss with you your preferences regarding your tenancy at James Stiff Cottages. I would emphasise that, whilst there are a number of options available to you, there is no intention on the part of Havebury to require you to move out of your home at James Stiff Cottages, if your preferred option is to remain in the property in which you currently live.” The subsequent letter on 27 January, following the meeting, stated in bold: “However I stressed that, whilst Havebury’s medium-term strategy was to dispose of James Stiff Cottages, there is no intention at this time by Havebury to require any tenant, who does not wish to do so, to move to alternative accommodation.” The important change in the two letters is the insertion of “at this time”.
No life tenant should be treated in this manner, regardless of age; these tenants are people, whose ages range from 56 to 93, and not merely numbers.
h) As of 11 March, the parish council has started the application for James Stiff’s Cottages to be Grade II-listed.
-- Rushbrooke with Rougham Parish Council
HAVEBURY CANNOT BE BELIEVED
I read with dismay (although not disbelief) of Havebury Housing’s actions in thoroughly frightening the elderly residents at James Stiff Cottages in Rougham by their bullying tactics in order to get them to leave.
A group meeting of the residents was rejected; Havebury say they have been offered a one-to-one meeting “so that they can express their views freely”.
The residents have also been offered a trifling sum to move to another property. And why? So that “the properties can be sold off and the proceeds reinvested in building modern housing” say Havebury.
And, incidentally, cause disruption to the 12 residents, aged 56-93, one of whom has lived there for 30 years.
In 2011, there was a strong rumour that the sheltered accommodation at Erskine Lodge, Great Whelnetham, was going to close. In response to the residents’ concerns, Havebury wrote to them, saying “there are no plans to close any further sheltered housing schemes”.
Eleven months later, Havebury stated that Erskine Lodge was indeed going to close, saying the properties were”no longer fit for purpose”.
Many of the tenants who were shipped off into alternative accommodation, felt otherwise. And now, surprise, surprise, Havebury want 58 dwellings to be built on that site.
Let’s go back in time a little further. In the 1950s, an unscrupulous landlord named Perec ‘Peter’ Rachman bought up many properties in West London.
The tenants who were protected against high rent increases were forced out. Some were offered a modest sum to leave – does this sound vaguely familiar? Others were driven out by threats of violence or intimidation.
The fact is, any resident who has had dealings with Havebury regarding developing sites for dwellings cannot believe any of their weasel words – their credibility is shot through.
The time has come for the council to bring a halt to Havebury Housing’s grandiose schemes, to stop them riding roughshod over the frail and the elderly – especially since their plans appear to benefit nobody but themselves.
The term ‘Rachmanism’ once filled all decent people with revulsion; don’t let it become resurrected in St Edmundsbury.
-- Dick Kirby, Great Whelnetham
A MILESTONE FOR HIDDEN GARDENS
The Hidden Gardens of Bury reaches another milestone this year when on Sunday, June 19, it will be the 30th time people have been able to discover some of the hidden horticultural gems in the centre of Bury St Edmunds.
Thanks to the people who have generously opened their gardens over the last three decades, about £300,000 has been raised for our local St Nicholas Hospice and many thousands of visitors have enjoyed an inspiring day out.
As it is a special year, a party is being held on the early evening of Monday, June 27, when we’ll hand over this year’s cheque to the hospice and we would like to invite garden owners, volunteers and friends at the hospice who have helped to make the Hidden Gardens such a success over the years.
While we have contact details for many people, please can we ask those who have been involved, or friends and relatives of people who have moved away , to get in touch. It will be a wonderful chance to share memories and say thank you to everyone.
Please contact us by email, at email@example.com, or call 01284 701527.
Advance tickets for this year’s Hidden Gardens will be available from the Apex from early May.
-- Diane Knights, Hidden Gardens, Bury St Edmunds
GREENS SAY WE SHOULD REMAIN
So the EU referendum debate has now truly kicked off, what will be our future place in Europe and the wider world going forward?
The EU decision-making process in Brussels can, at times, I think, feel remote, but the benefits of those decisions are really seen and felt here in Suffolk.
Eighty per cent of our environmental legislation comes from the EU, meaning that we have cleaner beaches, healthier air and better protection for rare species. Our natural heritage and wildlife sites here in the county are among the best in the UK, and Suffolk County Council with a host of conservation organisations is working to improve them even further. We should do nothing that puts this at risk.
The same goes for the many social and workplace laws we can take for granted, things like health and safety protection at work, entitlement to paid holidays and equal treatment for part-time workers; the EU guarantees those rights to everyone across the continent.
The EU also gives Britons and our fellow Europeans, the ability to live and work in other countries. As Greens, we celebrate freedom of movement for all the benefits it brings to the UK but also for the opportunity it gives future generations to benefit from working and living in other EU countries. I know from talking with sixth formers at local schools in the wake of the Paris terrorist atrocities that they greatly value European solidarity and being part of the family of Europe and, of course, having the freedom to travel, work and live in the EU. Being in the EU is the only possible route to continuing peace and security in a climate-changed and volatile world.
I’m glad we have an institution like the EU that safeguards our human and environmental rights and I am delighted that all Suffolk’s Conservative MPs share these perspectives as does council leader, Colin Noble.
However, if we vote to leave, rights we often take for granted could be demolished.
With a vote to remain in, we can put the European question to bed and begin working on delivering reforms from within to make Europe work much more democratically in the interests of people and communities.
West Suffolk Green Party is planning a cross-party rally in support of staying in the EU on Thursday, June 16, in Bury St Edmunds. Please do get in touch if you would like to be involved: @markereiraguyer
-- Cllr Mark Ereira-Guyer, Leader, Green and Independent Group, Suffolk County Council
MISERABLE WAY TO GET INTO FINAL
I write in support of Howards FC and the common sense approach of the Bury Sunday League /chairman Stuart Chapman.
The Bury Sunday League was established in the early 1960s by the likes of Tarzan Burrows and Joe Taylor. Men who loved football, the competitive nature of the game and the camaraderie it created. They played the game wanting to win, but accepted the result, taking defeat on the chin, shaking the other team’s hand and having a drink after.
It has been acknowledged by all that Howards FC have done nothing wrong. A minor administration issue associated with a long-serving Howards player, due to the volume of registrations by the league (please note administration by people for the love of the game, not professionals) has been seized upon by Gym FC.
The semi-final was played between two teams of men. On the day, the underdogs of Howards FC dug deep, pulled together and defeated the more illustrious Gym FC. The players and officials should have shaken the hands of Howards FC and taken defeat with grace.
To appeal the defeat on a minor technicality to the Bury League was poor. To then appeal the decision to the county FA is beneath contempt. What a miserable way to crawl yourself into a cup final. How can the players/officials of Gym FC look people in the eye and say they have earned their place in the final?
I strongly advise the players of Gym FC to sit down with the officials of the club to review their place in the final. The officials have serious questions to answer: are they involved for the right reasons? They were beaten fairly by Howards FC, they have no place in the final. Do the honourable thing and withdraw from the final, allowing Howards FC their rightful place. You will have far more respect from all those involved in local football if you do.
-- Keith Robinson, Hessett
THANK YOU FOR GREAT SERVICE
We should not let this moment go by without thanking – whoever they may have been – the people who made possible and who maintained the brown bin recycling system which we have been able so proudly to boast about, up to the present time.
From the introduction of this system, no more need for the gooey, rat-infested mess which my attempts at home-composting always became. Throughout the year, with the single exception of cooked meats residue, all our kitchen and garden waste has been taken away and recycled into clean, properly-sterilised and weed-free, friable compost, which we have then been very happy to buy back for use in improving the soil texture and fertility of our garden beds.
To all those who in any way have helped to make this possible, may I say how very grateful we have been.
It is a great shame this is thought to be no longer ‘affordable’ and we are to be fobbed off with what is so obviously a cheaper and inferior ‘service’ (which we now have to pay for a second time above and beyond our taxes). But we are becoming well schooled in the knowledge that economics and private profit must come first, and that the concept of service itself is now a back number. This is part of what is known as ‘austerity’.
Like many others perhaps, I shan’t now find it worthwhile to continue using the brown bin. Rather than leave it lying about, sawing it up for the grey bin does now seem the best option. Kitchen peelings (much to my wife’s distress) must now go to the same place. Garden cuttings I can dispose of on the farm, I shall not need the ten-mile journey to swell the queues at the dump. But I grieve for those who haven’t this option.
A sad business all round! But I shall not forget the great service that we did once receive. Many thanks to those who provided it.
-- John Goddard, Stanningfield
MP SHOULD JUSTIFY VOTE TO CUT ESA
We live in bizarre times, it seems, when the House of Lords is more socially aware than the elected House next door. In recent weeks, peers have twice voted against Government intentions to cut disability benefits by £30 a week, recommending that more evidence of impact on people’s lives is needed. Such caution was also strongly urged by many major national charities. But the Tories pushed it through as a matter of political pride – dogmatically, heartlessly – in a cavalier vote which Jo Churchill was apparently happy to endorse.
I would like to invite Jo Churchill to justify her decision to support the Government on this controversial issue. By what mechanism of economics does she imagine more jobs will now be created to spontaneously propel into work all those affected by these cuts? The logic is perverse. Mencap predict this will inevitably “push sick and disabled people further away from work and closer to poverty”. MIND call the policy insulting and misguided because, in truth, it is a measure which is essentially punitive; a further scapegoating of the poorest and most marginalised in society.
The austerity mantra is a well-worn and threadbare argument. The banking crisis was not caused by claimants of ESA. And although Cameron & Co. continue to present themselves with a smart-dressed façade of erudition and compassion, at last their masks are slipping for all to see. Just in time, because the NHS has been pushed to the very brink. Austerity politics is “a whited sepulchre” – wilfully divisive, cruel in the extreme, socially poisonous, selfishness run wild, completely without economic or moral justification. But please, Jo Churchill, do have a go. Enlighten your constituents, if you are able.
FOOTNOTE: Jo Churchill was not available for comment when contacted by the Bury Free Press