A selection of readers’ letters from the Bury Free Press of Friday, September 16.
NO THOUGHT GIVEN ABOUT PARKING
Having lived just off Skyliner Way for around nine years it is apparent that there was little to no thought given to this very busy area.
Insufficient parking for workers and lack of safe places to park has forced workers to park in the residential areas thus creating problems for residents. Surely when a building is given planning permission parking spaces must be allocated for staff and visitors. Alas, the speed and manner that a considerable number of drivers perform along these roads is an accident waiting to happen. Come on Suffolk Highways, let’s have some sensible calming measures please.
-- John Drage, via email
HEAVY RAIN CAN BE VERY LOCALISED
Roman’s may have had the right ideas to avoid or reduce the threat of floods (Letters, September 2) but, in those days, towns didn’t have Tarmac roads. David Irvine highlighted the flooding that occurred on Sunday, August 28, and the picture, showing the Newmarket Road near the traffic lights, is two miles away from his gauge up Mount Road and, on some showery days, there could be a big localised differences. Yes, annual long-term rainfall for our area is around 600mm (nearly 24in) and, although we do enjoy living in the driest part of the UK, only four years out of the last 50 years have had totals close to 600mm. By contrast, well over 800mm was recorded in Bury in 2001 and 1960 and dry at 400mm measured in the Abbey Gardens in 1991 and 1990. These contrasts do seem huge but do not always link with local flooding over shorter periods – like 1987 that had double the average summer rainfall June to August.
The last two months this year is a total contrast – the Linnet was dry with only 17mm of rain falling in over five weeks up to August 18. My rainfall records, done for the Environment Agency are at a site one mile west of Bury close to the River Linnet and, on August 28, 12½mm fell in the gauge – that’s about 11,000 gallons (50 tons) per acre– most of the intense rain falling in less than one hour! David’s total was 4mm east of Bury.
Summer storms can be very localised and an impressive contrast was the previous Wednesday evening’s 1½ hour thunderstorm that barely dropped any on Bury.
The huge memorable contrast was the awful torrential and persistent rain on the September 15, 1968, when flooding broke the banks of the Linnet and the Lark causing widespread residential damage. The Abbey Gardens nearby recorded 83mm of rain (3.3 inches) – still the record for one day’s rainfall for Bury St Edmunds.
Yes, the Romans dug ditches. Today though, even drains and gullies on major low lying hard road surfaces will not always rapidly absorb intense short, sharp August showers. Accumulation is inevitable but roads do get some help in most summer months from sunshine and evaporation – not like winter!
-- Alan Messem, Bury St Edmunds meteorologist
A WEEKEND OF FASCINATING FACTS
I would like to congratulate all the people and places involved in a really great weekend of visiting places not always open to the public, in and out of town.
On Friday, we went to Ashton Legal for an entertaining and educational trawl through the history of the town as well as the Oakes family and the Spanton Jarman photographs. This was followed by a visit to St Edmunds Catholic Church and more fascinating insights into the town’s history. In the afternoon we went out to Hawstead and the Great War Huts – a tour of this site being led by the very knowledgeable and enthusiastic host and volunteers. An interesting tour of the Cannon Brewery ended our first educational day of the weekend.
On Saturday, we went to the Guildhall and saw the re-enactors in the Royal Observer Corps World War Two operations room – brilliant!
Sunday we went up on the tower of the keep at the Suffolk Regiment Museum, followed by a riveting and entertaining walking tour around the businesses – and the characters who worked in them – of Bury. If time had allowed we would have fitted in even more – hopefully some of the things we missed will be available next year.
Well done everybody involved.
-- Jane Patton, Bury St Edmunds
DISAPPOINTED OVER COMMENTS
Copy of letter sent to Culford, West Stow and Wordwell Parish Council re West Stow Pods planning application DC/16/1372/FUL:
The parish council’s comments in respect of the above application have been received and can only be described as very disappointing. The objections raised are subjective and shows a high degree of self- important interpretation of the current planning legislation with a self -imposing autocratic authority which has no place, or value in today’s society. Planning legislation should be left to the professional governing bodies to interpret and to implement accordingly. The planning authority rightly takes local opinion into account before making any decisions, however, the comments made by this parish council do not represent the vast majority of residents or the local business community.
As the applicant, it is disappointing that there is such a lack of understanding of the value which West Stow Pods has contributed to the area. We are a small rural business which is highly regarded as a Glamping destination and has contributed to the awareness of the natural and historic heritage that this part of the Brecks has to offer.
I have lived in the village for the past 17 years with my family and our three children have grown up here with my wife ,who is actively involved in the local church. I have personally not ever had any contact with parish council other than trying to defend the ambitions of this small rural business against objections raised previously. This leads me on to a more serious note as to who are the very people who form this parish council? They are meant to represent the interests of the local community – a voice of the people. The objections of the council are completely out of step with popular opinion. What democratic process could there have been in place to select the current panel? Were active members of the community and individuals from local businesses ever invited to stand for nomination to the council?
The answer is depressing. Evidence, if needed, is clearly demonstrated by the council’s attitude to positive development within the community as a predictable negative response. This council is not the voice of local people or businesses.
I respect the opinion of others but there surely needs to be a consensus of popular opinion of any panel purporting to represent the general interests of the wider community and interpretation of planning legislation should be left to the planning professionals.
-- Jan Lengyel, West Stow Pods Ltd
KICKING THE CAN DOWN THE ROAD
John Worsley wonders whether the county council has a solution to the problem now faced by residents of Westbury Avenue of cars parking here following the extension of Zone H permit parking to cover all of Queen’s Road and York Road (Letters, September 9). The answer is ‘sort of’ but many might not see it as a ‘solution’ at all. You be the judge.
The latest plan is to extend the yellow line on the north-western side of Westley Road up to No 64. Currently around 20-30 cars are parked in this section every weekday. Most, but not all, are connected to the college and the hope is that these cars will disperse to elsewhere. This could include: from 66 Westley Road onwards, the other side of Westley Road, Highbury Crescent and Westbury Avenue. Denham Close and Hepworth Avenue may also see an increase in all-day parking by outsiders.
The proposal will be discussed at the next meeting of the Rights of Way Committee of Suffolk County Council in Endeavour House in Ipswich on Monday, October 10. The meeting starts at 10am. I will be attending to speak against this proposal as all they are doing is kicking the can down the road. I do agree though that double yellow lines are applied on the bend in front of 28-34 Westley Road as it is dangerous to park there. There is also the entrance to the tennis club and is directly opposite the junction with West Road.
At 11am on Monday, September 12, I counted 23 vehicles parked in Westbury Avenue between the junctions with West Road and Highbury Crescent/Highbury Road. This seems a lot for such a small stretch of a residential area. Some of the cars may belong to local residents but I suspect the vast majority were outsiders. There are a few possible solutions based on ‘pilots’ in other parts of Bury. For example, kerbside parking is prohibited between 8am and 10am Monday to Friday in Out Northgate and Station Hill. This is to prevent train commuters from occupying spaces all day and thus allowing those people who wish to enjoy a pub lunch or drop-off items at a popular charity shop to do so without a lengthy walk from their cars.
If a similar restriction was applied in the streets close to the college at, say, 11am to noon, Monday to Friday, the number of outsider cars parked would reduce to virtually nil. Residents could be offered vouchers to display on their dashboards so as to be exempt from a £30 fine. There are other possible schemes but simply slapping down yellow lines everywhere isn’t one of them.
-- David Nettleton, Suffolk County Councillor, Tower Division
NATION NEEDS PROTECTION
When I previously wrote to your paper about the referendum, I did not think the state of politics in our country could get worse. I was wrong.
The referendum has resulted in, to my mind, a failure of our entire political class. The electorate’s vote produced a result that was not expected by them and for which, it now transpires, they had no plan whatsoever. Indeed, the leaders of the debate – such as it was – are, at present, nowhere to be seen.
We have a new government, with its own, unelected agenda and which, it seems, is very slowly waking up to the enormity of the task ahead; we have a Foreign Secretary who has insulted a good many of the world’s leaders; and now we have Liam Fox ...
I believe firmly in democracy and in law-makers who are elected and accountable to the people.
I do, however, feel that the nation needs protection from some politicians, who are, frankly, a liability and not safe near a box of matches, let alone the Corridors of Power.
-- Martin Webb, Bury St Edmunds
USE RESERVES TO PLUG THE GAP
On August 24, I went on BBC Radio Suffolk to make the case for a badly needed injection of spending and sense in our county’s care homes. I was not the only one making this case and it soon became clear that many people in the county have first-hand experience of poor care.
As things currently stand, at least a third of Suffolk’s care homes are failing. To my surprise, when I looked in to this issue recently, I also discovered that of the 110 inspections carried out by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) since September last year, 42 care homes were given a rating of ‘Requires Improvement’ or ‘Inadequate’ – the two lowest ratings.
The reason for this growing problem comes down to profitability. When a care home is no longer profitable, cuts to the wages, training and number of staff almost invariably follows.
At present, the standard rate paid by Suffolk County Council per placement comes to around £19,000 per year, with the average amount spent at around £24,000 per year. However, the regional average cost incurred for keeping one elderly resident in a care home comes to at least £31,000 per year. Due to this deficit in payments, there has been inevitable shortfalls for care providers across the county.
There are around 2,500 elderly people that are at least partially funded by the county council to stay in care homes. Of that number, a little over 500 have their rates paid entirely by the council. From this data, and the overall shortfall between rates paid and costs incurred, I estimate that the current deficit among care providers comes to at least £3 million - £5 million. In my radio interview, I suggested that the council make use of its enormous reserves of £191 million and immediately inject this sum in to the system.
At no point would I suggest that this would solve the problem. But what it would do is provide a welcome injection of funds, especially among our small care providers, keeping their heads above water financially in the short-term. This would have to be followed by a detailed consultation and review to try to get to the heart of the problem.
On the morning of August 25, the Council Leader, Colin Noble, was invited to talk on BBC Radio Suffolk to defend the county council in this argument.
At no point did he attempt to argue against the central premise of my argument – that the failure of around a third of our care homes is related to the inadequate rates paid by the county council. Instead, Cllr Noble focused on the sum of £5 million and, in a brief moment of spontaneous honesty, admitted that £5 million would not be enough.
I believe we have a moral responsibility to ensure that we have nothing but the best possible care for elderly residents. As the care home system in Suffolk continues to noticeably falter, it is becoming sadly apparent that the county council’s Conservative administration would rather sit on their hands than take the radical action that is increasingly needed to solve this problem.
-- Cllr Sarah Adams, Suffolk County Council Labour Group spokesperson on Health and Adult Care