READERS’ LETTERS: From the Bury Free Press of Friday, September 23

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A selelction of readers’ letters from the Bury Free Press of Friday, September 23.

WHY DOES ESTATE GET ITS OWN SIGN?

Can somebody please let the citizens of Bury St Edmunds know when Moreton Hall estate became a separate entity from the main town?

What about ‘Welcome to the Howard Estate’ or ‘Westley’ or ‘Mildenhall’? Why is Moreton Hall different from the rest of the town?

In my view this signage is trying to say that they are better than the rest of us.

I do understand that others may not have the same view as myself but it would surely be a positive experience for the whole town to be seen as one, not segregated into areas, which is a step back in time rather than a move forward to a bonded community.

-- Gloria Meen, Bury St Edmunds

THAN YOU TO ALL INVOLVED IN GIRLS NIGHT OUT

To each and every one of the 2,400 ladies who signed up for Girls Night Out on September 10, thank you! What an amazing sight! Thank you for pledging an incredible, record-breaking £250,000 for St Nicholas Hospice Care.

None of this would be possible without the help of a great many people and organisations to whom I would like to say a massive ‘thank you’. Special thanks goes to St Edmundsbury Borough Council, our local Community Police Team, Suffolk Fire and Rescue, RAF Squadron 2623, the USAF and of course, the Bury Free Press. Thank you also to Tescos, TBS, the Bury Rugby Club, the local Rotary, Round Table and Lions Clubs, and everyone who entertained the ladies along the route from the water boys to the pipe players!

It is not possible to name everyone who helped as the list is so long, but I would finally like to thank the 350 people who helped to marshal the walks and keep the ladies safe and, of course, all the local residents who came out in force to encourage and cheer!

If you missed it this year, we’ll be doing it again on September 9, 2017. See you there!

-- Jenny Baskett, Events and Challenges , Fundraising Officer, St Nicholas Hospice Care

TRACTOR HAZARD ON THE A14

I have driven between Newmarket and Bury on the A 14 at 7pm. I overtook about 10 tractors with high-sided trailers, not in convoy.

All the tractors had flashing warning lights but most were not visible from a saloon car because of the high trailer.

A few trailers had a single flashing light at the rear but, without exception, these were inadequate at dusk on a clear evening. The inadequate provision of warning lights by farmers/contractors is a very real danger and I write in the hope that the Bury Free Press might take up this issue and highlight the menace on this very busy road. Perhaps the police would mount a safety campaign.

-- Paul Grover, via email

PARK SPOILED BY CIGARETTE ENDS

We regularly walk our dogs in Hardwick Park, which we enjoy very much, but every time we go through the area beside the hospital we are horrified by the number of cigarette ends on the ground, a few feet from the litter bins.

Those who smoke there, hospital staff, builders and others, are provided with several litter bins, so why do they not use them?

It is a shame that people who have the park to enjoy spoil it for others.

-- Perry Morley, Bury St Edmunds

TEMPORARY REPRIEVE FOR DAY CENTRE

The decision this week by Orbit Housing Association to defer the closure of Brandon Day Centre from the end of September to the end of the year is to be welcomed.

Let’s hope that the local charity and other stakeholders can agree a transfer plan with Orbit in time to keep it going. Once lost, it’s so hard to re-establish these facilities.

We will all need support in our older years, so it’s important these community services aren’t lost as the result of some remote accountant’s axe.

Orbit is a multi-million pound business, albeit one run on a non-profit basis. Huge sums of public money are poured into its projects.

Orbit’s chair, Baroness Tessa Blackstone, is well known for her progressive and humane attitudes. Let’s hope she visits the day centre in the next three months.

The people of Brandon will have to show her that these day centre facilities are urgently needed.

Let’s make sure that the necessary fourfold increase in clients can be demonstrated.

-- Andy Erlam, via email

PROTECT THE VINEFIELDS

While I am delighted about the new initiative to ‘protect and enhance what remains of the Abbey of St Edmund’ (Bury Free Press, September 16), I am a little concerned that the very organisation chosen to manage the grant funding and help select consultants for the studies, St Edmundsbury Borough Council, is the same one whichin 2012 decided that the Abbey Vinefields area, including the Grade oI-listed ancient abbey vineyard wall, still enclosing and delineating this area, situated to the east of the Abbey Gardens, was so unimportant it should be officially removed from the conservation boundary, as it was of little consequence. And all without consulting English Heritage (now Historic England), the government body specifically employed to oversee such important changes, and the same one that has now given them £40,000.

Surely, if this new initiative is to ‘deepen public understanding of the life and times of St Edmund and the medieval abbey, and help interpret the area’, the old Abbey Vinefields, together with historic flint and stone boundary wall, should be brought back within the conservation boundary and given the respect and historic importance it deserves.

Why this historically valuable part of the abbey, with Grade I monument wall was mysteriously removed from the conservation boundary area in 2012 by St Edmundsbury is still a deep dark mystery. It was always part of the abbey and must be included in any future interpretation of the abbey story. To date, it has simply been ignored as though it doesn’t exist. So, I appeal to members of the public to take a walk through the Abbey Gardens, over the River Lark. The old vinefields wall runs around the old St James Middle School. It is a huge part of the abbey of St Edmunds story, and one that should not be excluded from any future studies. I do hope the very organisation in charge of both the money and choosing the consultants doesn’t unfairly influence any decision to exclude the vinefield area from any research, perhaps to ease through future development within this historic site once the school has finally closed next year.

-- P Harber, Lawshall

WELCOME LOOK AT PARKING PROBLEM

I write in response to Cllr David Nettletton’s letter (Bury Free Press, September 16) concerning student parking. Speaking as a resident of Westley Road affected by the inconsiderate parking of students from the college, I welcome Cllr Nettleton’s visit last week to have a look at the problem himself.

I have been trying to get Suffolk Highways to do something about this for over two years now, and so far nothing has happened. I agree with Cllr Nettleton that double yellow lines should be applied to the bend in Westley Road around the entrance to Risbygate Sports Club, but I am prepared to accept the plan to put down a single yellow line in order to make this area safer during the busy daytime period.

Can I ask Cllr Nettleton please do not do anything that will delay the implementation of the measures planned. A single yellow line is better than no line at all.

The idea of issuing parking vouchers sounds like a good one, but I fear will not take place due to the costs involved.

-- Trevor Brett, Bury St Edmunds

TWEET HIGHLIGHTED LACK OF TICKETS

You included a tweet from St Edmundsbury Police claiming credit for 110 tickets issued in the past eight weeks (Bury Free Press, September 9).

The only newsworthy element of this is the lack of productivity – fewer than four tickets per working day.

I would imagine that a campaign around St Andrew’s Street South, Westgate Street and Guildhall Street would make this number achievable in less than one week. There is no shortage of offenders.

-- Henry R Saltmarsh, Bury St Edmunds

INCREASING THE RISK OF FLOODING

Further to Alan Messem’s factual and informative letter on rainfall figures (Bury Free Press, September 16), we’ve seen over the last 12 months endless live TV pictures of devastating flooding in unexpected areas, although adequate flood defences were believed to be in place. We are moving into far more violent weather patterns with localised flash flooding, even though annual rainfall figures may not markedly change.

On Tuesday, June 21, 2016, the Brooms Barn [Barrow] meteorological station just six miles from town recorded 27mm of rain in one hour, making it the wettest part of the country that day. Had this 27mm (4.5% of our average annual rainfall in just one hour)fallen upstream from Bury into the Lark or Linnet river valleys with the land already sodden, then hundreds of homes in Bury would have suffered major flooding.

Our town is on a flooding knife edge. The problem is largely the limited flash flooding capacity of the Abbots Bridge and the adjacent Eastgate Street road bridge. Until this is sorted we are at risk.

Any building works – residential or business – creating yet more impermeable surfaces in these river valleys upstream from town must stop.

Clearing ditches and dredging here is the worst thing we can do, it simply speeds up water flow until it slams into these bridges – if not washing them away then certainly coming over the top into surrounding streets. Never underestimate the power of water. We must keep all upstream soft surfaces with their sponge effect slowly releasing water at a manageable rate.

An example: if the planned175 acre Abbots Vale development along Rushbrook Lane is allowed, then 27mm of rain falling on this area alone would amount to a staggering 4.15 million gallons. This volume of fast running water, when added to the additional flow from upstream, would cause major flooding – no matter how many holding ponds were built. To a lesser extent the same applies to the Tayfen plans. The names Rushbrook and Tayfen tell us a lot: our ancestors weren’t fools.

Alarmist scaremongering? I think not. We urgently need open public debate. Past experience shows we cannot rely on the Environment Agency or local planners’ assessments – building on flood plains still continuing.

-- Simon Harding, Bury St Edmunds

CARE HOMES’ PERFORMANCE CAN BE IMPROVED

Having read Cllr Adams’ letter (Bury Free Press, September 16), I must say I am not at all shocked by her continued sentiment, suggesting that pouring more and more money into our care home system is the only way to resolve current concerns in performance. Unfortunately, this seems to always be the default suggestion from Cllr Adams, regardless of the issue in hand.

The simple fact is; an injection of additional funding only makes a real difference if underlying concerns around the performance are firstly addressed.

Suffolk County Council is working very closely with care providers in Suffolk who have been identified by the Care Quality Commission and our team as underperformers in the market. In many cases it is the organisational structure of the provider that needs support, advice and guidance to address failings within the home. Only then can you realistically assess if there is an issue with the financial conditions of the provider.

We must not fall into a position where we are required to continually bale out poor performance with council tax-payers’ money. This is an approach that offers no guarantee that performance will ever improve if the provider persists in poor financial management.

We have found that performance is directly linked to leadership. The management of care providers determine whether training is seen as a crucial element of safe and supportive care or an unnecessary expense. The CQC support this finding in their annual report.

This issue of care home performance was fully debated at full council on Thursday, September 15, when my Cabinet colleague Cllr Beccy Hopfensperger and I both spoke passionately about the work that is already under way to drive rapid improvement, particularly with key providers who offer a large number of beds for council care placements.

The council works intensively with homes rated as ‘inadequate’ and a number of those which are deemed to ‘require improvement’ to drive their improvement. Where there is poor performance we have been fast to step in and engage with providers.

Cllr Adams refers to payment rates in her letter. I can confirm that we have already begun the process of rates negotiations for 2017/18. We are doing this now to allow for additional dialogue between the council and providers across the sector. In our approach we will balance the very real and legitimate pressures on the sector, including the National Living Wage uplift and the overall affordability of the settlement for the council.

We have also commenced a Market Review of the Residential and Nursing Care Market Suffolk, in partnership with health providers across the county. This will inform the future developments in care and our decisions on how to shape and grow the market to meet the changing and future needs of residents. This review also includes looking at the impact of payment rates.

The care of our elderly and vulnerable residents is, of course, one of the highest priorities of this council and we would never seek to use the subject for cheap political points scoring.it is a shame that others insist on doing so. I have been hugely impressed by the commitment and passion of the staff and leaders of the care providers in Suffolk in providing the essential quality care to the elderly and not because of the money involved or otherwise. We should celebrate those providers who are excelling and support those who are currently underperforming with advice and guidance. Not just throwing money at the problem and hoping for the best.

-- Cllr Colin Noble, Leader, Suffolk County Council