A selelction of readers’ letters from the Bury Free Press of Friday, May 6.
MITIGATION PLAN WILL NOT WORK
Camille Berriman hopes there is ‘a plan to beat gridlock’ following her harrowing experience recently when it took her 15 minutes to exit the West Suffolk Hospital site where she works and a further 55 minutes to reach her destination at Moreton Hall (Bury Free press, April 29). There had been a road traffic accident on the A14 earlier that day so her journey was longer than usual. Camille also mentions the closure of Angel Hill for the Christmas Fair in late November and the fact that thousands more homes will be built in Bury St Edmunds over the next 15-20 years.
The good news, Camille, is ‘yes’ there is a plan. The bad news is that it won’t work. The reason is that the planners are addressing the wrong issue. Their aim is to alter a few junctions: traffic lights instead of roundabouts, taking chunks out of various bits of greensward and generally tinkering about at the margins. All this will do is speed vehicles from one bottleneck to another, which will only add to the congestion. Even the authors of the plan talk about ‘mitigating’ the increase in traffic, not reducing it.
The basic problem is that at certain times of the day there are more cars in the road network than the network can accommodate. Some argue that widening selected roads will resolve this issue, but experience elsewhere shows that more cars are encouraged into the network and a lot of public money will have been spent to get us back to Square One.
Camille doesn’t say, but I suspect that she is usually the single occupant of a five-seater vehicle. This is an inefficient use of road space. It may be that she needs to visit other places during her working day so has to go by car, unless her employer has a travel plan in place for its employees. If not, leave the car in the driveway and either walk, cycle or take the bus. Moreton Hall to West Suffolk Hospital doesn’t seem very far to me; I live in Cannon Street and although my visits to the site are not daily, I walk there and back when I do go. If I was employed there daily, I would still walk to work, or catch a bus in heavy rain. Camille is probably aware that I am over 70.
Council colleagues keep referring to the ‘Real World’ when I advocate travelling under their own steam around Bury. The ‘real world’ for Camille and so many others, is being regularly either stuck in traffic or needing to take long detours through rural villages to come back into Bury. And, with thousands more homes already agreed and 400 extra parking spaces planned at the hospital, the traffic chaos will grow unless people change their behaviour. Be the change you want to see, Camille!
-- David Nettleton, Cannon Street, Bury St Edmunds
BUILD A DECENT TOWN BYPASS
Re Camille Berriman’s column, I, like you, doubt that the ‘planners’ have any plan to alleviate future traffic woes regarding A14 hold ups, but to be fair to them, no doubt they’re tied up in all sorts of government red tape.
My answer would be a decent bypass. Who thought it was a good idea to put it through the centre of town anyway? Some of the tightest bends on the A14 are in the middle of our town and they all have very busy slip roads on them, a recipe for more disasters. It needs thinking about.
I, also like you, hope the injured parties from the recent accident have a speedy recovery.
-- J Robinson, via email
VISION 2031 LET US DOWN
Re The Erskine Lodge development at Great Whelnetham.
As residents we tried to minimise this development, not stop it.
We wanted restrictions on this site. The hope was we could restrict the height to single-storey (as this is what is on the site now), restrict the quantity of homes (this is what our parish council had agreed to in V2031), make these homes available to village people and people with ties to our village first.
Unfortunately, although these points were discussed in the planning meeting, none of these options were used and we now have blocks of flats coming to our village. Our relatives and young people will not be able to be homed here and our conservation meadow is also to be destroyed.
V2031 was set out to protect our villages and towns from building the wrong things in the wrong areas but it does not work, it is a waste of money and not worth the paper it is written on. If you hope this will protect your village from being turned into a housing estate on the edge of town think again.
The Core Strategy Document clearly states in DM27 sec b, the scale of the development consists of infilling a small undeveloped plot by one dwelling or a pair of semi-detached dwellings . . . with the scale and character of existing dwellings within an otherwise continuous built up frontage. Permission will not be granted where a proposal harms or undermines a visually important gap that contributes to character and distinctiveness of the rural scene, or where development would have an adverse impact on the environment.
DM29 sec d says the development will not negatively impact on biodiversity, geodiversity or the surrounding landscape character of the settlement. Any unavoidable harm to the natural environment will be adequately mitigated.
Our conservation area was listed as a no-build site and part of the flood plain and classed as open countryside, but due to the council’s lack of regard for local people, this was changed without public consultation.
The council will have us believe that they did all they legally needed, to make the residents aware of plans to change the use of this site.
We, as residents living adjoining this piece of land, were not informed in any manner of this proposal. We have been told that it was posted in the village. We live in Sicklesmere and this was posted in Great Whelnetham and no-one seems to of ever seen this posted. If planning permission is sought, all properties within close proximity to the site are informed by letter, why is this not the same for change of use?
I have now come to the conclusion that ignorance is not bliss. Working full-time, running a home and family is no excuse.
It seems that to have any chance of living the quiet life and enjoying what you have worked hard for, you must also walk the streets of your parish looking for postings on lamp posts and village signs, trawl internet sites, make phone calls and attend every parish council meeting.
This is the only way of knowing what the council intends for you and your villages.
We still hope to protect the wildlife on our conservation meadow but feel that this is not a concern of our council.
-- via email, road accident
COUNTY COUNCIL IS DUCKING THE ISSUE
Following on from Julia Wakelam’s letter about parking along Skyliner Way (Bury Free Press, April 29), we really are in a bizarre situation with Suffolk County Council, as the Highway Authority, opposing the construction of the a layby.
By way of background, many years ago, I raised concern that on-street parking was restricting proper two-way traffic flow. The Highway Authority declined to address it, so in 2010 I called it in to the borough council scrutiny committee. They opted to take no action at the time so, in 2014, I called it back in to the scrutiny committee where, finally, my concerns were supported along with my layby proposal.
Julia’s letter explains that a bid was made for funding from the Suffolk County Council On-Street Parking Account but it was refused. It’s perverse that Bury St Edmunds, along with Ipswich, are the only two towns that contribute to this account, yet we struggle to get any of our own money back. Despite this, we appeared to have a solution when the borough council decided to fund most of the cost and I agreed to use my Locality Budget to support them. Suffolk County Council still opposed it.
I therefore wrote to the cabinet member for highways who responded by saying he was aware of my concerns and ‘the local view that when the Eastern Relief Road is built there will be much more traffic in Skyliner Way’. He goes on to say that ‘the need for parking restrictions, a layby or other measures will be considered once the new road has been constructed’. He concludes that this is a consistent response to concerns raised. I can’t fault him on that last point. Highways are nothing if not consistent; give them a problem and they will find ways of not fixing it. We have a problem now and want it sorted out now. After all, it wasn’t the road users who failed to ensure adequate parking in the first place.
Roads of this status should have a free flow of traffic. St Edmundsbury Borough Council recognises this, local people know this and, as the county councillor who has spent years trying to get some action, I know this. Why then is Suffolk County Council ducking it for several more years at least?
- Cllr Trevor Beckwith, Eastgate and Moreton , Hall Division , Suffolk County Council
EU A SHRINKING MARKET FOR UK
Bill Attwood is correct when he stated that the EU needs our trade, despite his critic, John Wilkin’s protest (Letters, April 22).
In 2014, the UK exported £147.6 billion worth of goods to the EU (49% of all UK goods exports) and exported £81.3 billion worth of services to the EU (37% of all UK services exports).
Overall, 44% of UK goods and services exports went to the EU (£228.9bn), while the remaining 56% of UK goods and services exports went to the rest of the world (£286.3bn).
Today, the UK has an extremely large trade deficit with the EU (ie. we buy far more from them than we sell to them). In 2014 we sold £228.9bn worth of goods and services to the EU, but bought £290.6bn.
70.6% of the UK economy is domestic business, not international trade.
Exports of goods and services to the EU represented 13.1% of GDP in 2014.
Exports of goods and services outside the EU represented 16.3% of GDP and were 25% more valuable than exports to the EU.
The UK is a far more open economy than other EU countries.
According to Eurostat, in 2014, the share of UK goods exports going to countries outside the EU is higher than every other EU member state bar Malta.
The EU is a shrinking market for the UK. Over the last decade, the EU has become less important to UK exporters, with exports of goods and services to the EU falling from 54 per cent of the total in 2006 to 44 per cent today.
-- Ian Smith, Bury St Edmunds