A selection of readers’ letters from the Bury Free Press of Friday, March 20.
ROAD PRIORITIES ARE WRONG
It’s all very well Suffolk County Councillor Newman wishing that more people would get on their bikes, but as cabinet member for roads and transport he ought to have a walk round the central Bury streets and see the lack of provision for cycle transport.
Yes, there are a few white lines (which soon give up on the difficult bits like roundabouts) and the odd sign indicating a free-for-all between pedestrians and cyclists on shared pathways, but he would find very few proper cycleways.
I cycle round Bury almost every day, but am often taking my life in my hands in a town where the car is king. Until priority is given to pedestrians and cyclists in the centre of the town at least, then I’m afraid that Suffolk’s Year of Cycling will have very little impact in Bury St Edmunds.
--Alan Broadway, Bury St Edmunds
TOWN SPOILED BY RUBBISH
It is now official: Bury St Edmunds is probably the filthiest small market town in East Anglia.
Bury in Bloom judges, at one of their regular rounds around town commented on the overall shabby look of the roads, particularly in the eastern part of town. They came across some appalling ‘dirt spots’. Mount Road, not long ago a pleasant road into town is now most of the year a gutter littered with plastic; the cycle path along it is full of glass killing off the tyres. Compiegne Way, Barton Road, Orttewell Road: they ressemble the A14 at its dirtiest. As one of the judges said: “It makes no sense to do an annual clean-up when for the rest of the year people have to look at all the rubbish piling up. Besides, one empty can on a roundabout encourages people to add theirs”.
Buy a broom!
-- Rob Lansman, Bury St Edmunds
I’D PAY MORE TAX FOR BETTER SERVICES
The mystery of the disapearing litter bins –they’ve gone from College Street, Almoners Field footpath,Westgate Street, Southgate Street, the back of the Abbey Gardens andmoved to a less useful position. These are just the ones I know of.
The bins were often overflowing and seldom emptied but were obviously well used. This is no way to encourage people to keep Bury tidy. I for one would not mind paying a bit more Council Tax now to keep these services up as well as road markings, clearing paths of grass and mud and some long-overdue maintenance work along our rivers and the water meadows where new cycle routes are planned.
-- R M Shepherd , via email
NHS IS A TOP PRIORITY
When David Ruffley decided to stand down as the Conservative party parliamentary candidate at the forthcoming General Election, I suggested within these pages that this presented us with a wonderful opportunity to fully explore with all candidates, the big issues that people say matter to them the most , particular in light of the fact that in a safe Tory seat the constituents of Bury St Edmunds have a new Conservative candidate who is not local to the area, and whose position on key areas of government policy we have no real knowledge of.
I was therefore extremely disappointed to hear that the new candidate, Jo Churchill, had expressed a view that ‘the things that are important to us all are not party political’. Really? Try telling that to the people of this constituency that rely on food banks to feed their families due to the Tory’s disastrous welfare and economic policies, try telling that to the people of this constituency that have seen their housing benefit reduced as a direct result of the Tory’s pernicious bedroom tax, and try telling that to the people of this constituency who have just been made aware of the biggest ever privatisation of NHS services worth up to £780 million, a deal that will see 11 private firms carry out heart, joint and other diagnostic tests on patients. Two of those companies many people within this constituency will already be aware of, one being Circle, which is in line to share up to £240 million for providing services such as scans and x-rays. This being the same Circle that pulled out of running Hinchinbrooke Hospital, in Cambridgeshire, following the publication of a damning Care Quality Commission (CQC) report into the standard of care patients were receiving, the other company being Care UK, again criticised by the CQC for the quality of care at two nursing homes it runs in Suffolk.
When people are asked about their political priorities, the NHS consistently comes out number one, and if Jo Churchill really does believe the Tories’ privatisation of the NHS is not party political, I would suggest the people of Bury St Edmunds need to think long and hard before once again voting Tory.
-- Richard Soer, Great Barton
DRIVERS ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM
In your ‘Comment’ column (Bury Free Press, March 13) you suggest that councillors seeking re-election this May are avoiding discussing the ‘ticking traffic time-bomb’ of increased congestion in and around Bury St Edmunds as the town grows to accommodate the demand for housing.
Please don’t include me in that slur. I have been arguing the case for reduced car use since at least 17 September 1999, when the then editor of the BFP printed a letter from me on the subject of traffic congestion. I’d be happy to scan across that letter to you. Since then, the situation has worsened.
You relate your own experiences at various bottlenecks in the highway network as if you are an innocent victim. If the traffic jams you keep joining are not partly your fault, who’s fault are they? As you live in Bury and your office is in King’s Road, why aren’t you walking or cycling to work? You may have a disability that I don’t know about but you are light years younger than me. When I visit my GP at Mount Farm Surgery, I walk there and back from my home in Cannon Street. At 70, walking helps me stay fit, and keeps the weight down. Car owners keep telling me that they ‘haven’t got the time’ to walk to work, but I have two jobs – I’m a county and borough councillor – amounting to 45 hours a week, and it takes me 25 minutes to walk to the council offices at West Suffolk House. I go via the pedestrian and cycle track alongside the Tayfen Wildlife Reserve, where there are rabbits and birds, and sometimes moorhens on the lake. Car drivers are missing all this. True, I work mainly from home, but I do sometimes also need to go to Ipswich for meetings. I read reports during the train journey.
Since my election to the county council two years ago I have repeatedly asked for a travel plan for Bury.
All I’m offered is replacing a few roundabouts with some traffic lights, as if that will make any difference. These cosmetic changes are both costly and ineffective. The Tollgate gyratory at the entrance to Fornham Road is a good example. It would cost £245,000 to alter this junction and will only succeed in speeding the traffic to the next bottleneck.
Why not install a congestion-charging point here instead? It would only need to operate for a couple of hours every weekday morning to turn the inbound lane of Fornham Road into a bus lane, so that people could catch the trains at the rail station or arrive at work in the town centre without the frustration of being stuck in traffic. The return bus fare from the estates is £2.50, so the congestion charge would need to be set at about this level to be effective.
I have devised a plan for the part of Bury I represent for the benefit of all my electors. I leave the south and the east of Bury to the two county councillors who represent these areas.
Rather than make the traffic jams run on time, why not consign them to history?
However, if anyone has a better idea than mine, write to the Bury Free Press. Rubbishing someone else’s plan is pointless without presenting an alternative strategy. I will submit my complete travel plan and the editor can choose the best entry. The parliamentary candidates can join in if they like.
-- David Nettleton, Cadney Lane, Bury St Edmunds
INCLUDE PARK AND RIDE IN PLANS
Traffic congestion in Bury is increasing and will worsen with the advent of 6,000 new houses (say, 10,000 extra cars) around the periphery of the town.
The foundation of any ‘Travel Plan’ for Bury must first and foremost be the introduction of at least two park and ride schemes. The development of bicycle and pedestrian routes can follow.
The location of a ‘waste hub’ should be subordinate to the selection of a park and ride network.
-- John Maxwell, Great Barton
PETROL PRICES ON WAY BACK UP
Has anyone noticed rising petrol prices? Well, not the Government obviously! At least no-one in our region.
I filled my car up about a fortnight ago at £ 103.9. Came to fill it up at Tesco, in Bury, to discover to my horror it had zoomed up to £ 107.9. I only filled up because I had a ‘money off’ voucher.
I am a pensioner and rising fuel prices are something I watch carefully. How can the Conservatives boast about prices having ‘come down’ when they seem to be creeping up, as a matter of fact, I would say ‘jumped’ up.
-- P Leach, Bury St Edmunds
COUNCIL MUST THINK AHEAD
I was disturbed by the amount of seeming negativity displayed towards developer Pigeon, with its plans for an original batch, of 200 new homes on the derelict site on Tayfen Road, including a care home with 60 beds. Pigeon has a very high reputation for quality homes. This is only phase 1. Phase 2, I understand, will include affordable homes. It’s ridiculous to expect any developer to build both at once. It would be too costly and disruptive.
Concerns around the old gas works site are genuine but I am sure this will be fixed to suit all environmental aspects. The worry is that new traffic access is not being catered for by Suffolk County Council.
Some of our local county council members have expressed deep concerns at the total lack of any substantial plans, from Suffolk County Council (Bury Free Press, March 13) to cope with the entire traffic plans for the 6,000 new homes as part of Vision 2031 in and around Bury St Edmunds.
These new homes will cost in excess of £200,000. That means two working adults for each home and these high paying jobs will not be within walking or cycling distance of the new estates. The Tayfen Road site is near the train station so that’s great, the rest of the new estates will not be so convenient, walking and cycling to those estates is frankly pie in the sky thinking, it colours any realistic or substantive outcome.
The high paying jobs will probably be in Cambridge or London, even Norwich, Ipswich and Felixstow.
The reality is that Suffolk County Council must be conducting traffic surveys now, then submitting workable and feasible plans for discussion now, not when these estates are built. By then, it will be too little too late.
Bury St Edmunds is a great town, voted one of the best by the Sunday Times, we do not want it gridlocked by a lack of or poor planning by Suffolk County Council. I understand Sudbury is also suffering from the same lack of input, for its expansion.
-- Tom Murray, Howard Estate, Bury St Edmunds
GREENS OPPOSE NHS PRIVATISATION
Neil Moffat’s letter (Bury Free Press, March 13) called for voters to ask candidates their stance on the NHS. We are writing to share what we stand for.
Firstly, thank you for such a revealing letter on how Lib Dem and Conservative MPs are working together to prevent a reversal of NHS privatisation – an issue which is almost wholly opposed to by the public.
The filibustering by these MPs is a sure sign of their contempt for the democratic process. Their actions stifle debate and prevent the voices of constituents being heard – the very people who MPs are supposed to represent.
Our position, and that of the Green Party, is simple – we want a publicly operated and accountable NHS that serves the people.
First, we will repeal the 2012 Health and Social Care Act responsible for continued privatisation. Second, we will introduce the NHS Reinstatement Bill, as championed by Green MP Caroline Lucas.
We will restore local democratic control, stop further PFI contracts and ensure that our precious NHS is exempt from any TTIP agreement.
There is a time and a place for profit but it is not within the health or social care systems that care for us at our most vulnerable.
-- Helen Geake, Green Party PPC for Bury St Edmunds & Niall Pettitt, Green Party PPC for West Suffolk
MONEY COULD BE BETTER SPENT
I write concerning the proposal of the council to install metal trees in the new arc shopping centre, in Bury St Edmunds, at a cost of around £20,000.
If such sums are to be spent, surely, road safety needs take priority? The crossing from the old town centre to the new arc shopping centre is dangerous. Even if it costs more, some sort of controlled pedestrian crossing is badly needed – or do human lives not count when compared to metal trees?
If trees are to be installed, why not install real ones? I am aware of the problem caused by roots; however, trees or plants in large pots would look better, give pleasure, and benefit the environment.
Bury St Edmunds is a beautiful, historic town, full of greenery, which is visited by many, many tourists, all year round. Metal trees will add nothing to the town but their cost.
-- Martin Webb, Bury St Edmunds