Readers’ letters: May 3

Have your say

A selection of readers’ views from the Bury Free Press of Friday, May 3.

Arts festival with a difference

I am writing to congratulate the leaders of East Cambridgeshire, Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury councils on the brilliant festival being held along the A14 at the moment. In these days of cutbacks to arts and culture, and the general philistinism of the national Department of Culture, Media and Sport, it’s really fantastic to see local authorities still capable of putting on something challenging and edgy.

The sheer scale and ambition of it takes the breath away: In the 20-odd miles of my daily commute between Bury St Edmunds and Cambridge there must be literally thousands and thousands of plastic bags (representing consumerism, I imagine, though the interpretation is cleverly left to the audience). In some places every turn of the wheels yields a new treat: Discarded bollards, roadworks signs prostrate on their backs, referencing historic events; miles and miles of fluorescent tape draped naturalistically from trees; engine parts! There are some truly bold notes struck by the bigger pieces: Entire bumpers, lorry mudguards, lengths of metal safety barrier – most placed along the verge but some in the central reservation, so the eye is constantly busy, seeking stimulation from unexpected directions. Along this short stretch alone, a dozen or so enormous blown HGV tyres are artfully abandoned (by whom, we are left to wonder: Does the recovery truck team leave them as souvenirs of a spectacular event which passing drivers over the coming months, years and decades have not witnessed but are provoked to imagine?). There are sadder tones, too: A sleeping bag, a blanket. But triumphant shafts of laughter shine through with the regularly spaced bottles of Eau de Routard, or ‘Trucker’s Wee’. It’s quite a game to spot them nestling along the roadside.

In July, we will have friends visiting from France, and I’m sure they will never have seen anything like it (I’ve certainly not seen anything like it in France, so I’m guessing it will be a big surprise). So my question is, will the Litter Festival still be on in July? I do hope so!

-- Matthew Moss, Harrington Close, Bury St Edmunds

Resist Gove’s proposals

Graham Turner is absolutely right (Bury Free Press, April 26), the last thing children need is a longer school day or indeed more weeks spent in school rather than on holiday. All the evidence shows that increasing the hours pupils spend in school does nothing to improve educational outcomes across the board. Finland has some of the lowest hours of contact time and some of the best results in international tables. Our children deserve something better than the long hours of rote learning that Mr Gove seems to favour.What matters most when it comes to quality of education is the quality of the teaching. Having just retired from teaching after 38 years I can testify to just how exhausting it is to work 55-60 hours a week, in a highly pressured environment with little time for reflection on practice or acquisition of new skills and knowledge. The school holidays are used by teachers for those activities, a chance to catch up on paperwork and to recharge their batteries, so they can begin a new term with the enthusiasm and excitement that they want to convey to their pupils. Gove’s policy will lower the quality of education in this country and should be resisted at all costs.

-- Richard Stainer, Bradfield St George

Wales is showing us the way

Having just returned from 12 days driving a total of 748 miles touring Wales, a group of four of us realised soon after crossing the border that there were no potholes in the roads.As the only times we were on motorways was entering or leaving Wales, which is not included in the mileage, the remainder of the driving was on some A roads but predominantly B and small country roads. As Wales comes under the same governmental financial constrictions as England, would somebody in local government please explain why the Welsh, given their record of extreme rain, snow etc, can have roads with no potholes, when in Suffolk, we spend more in compensation for damage, personal injuries etc than we do on making the roads fit for purpose? Between where I live in Flemyng Road and driving into Newmarket Road, there are seven potholes which have been filled in since March, but are now in need of repair again due to shrinking.

-- R Holton, Flemyng Road, Bury St Edmunds

Important issues were raised

Can I, through you paper, thank everyone who came to the election meeting at the Newbury Community Centre to meet and listen to the eight prospective candidates standing for Tower Ward in the May election. Many important issues were raised by people from the large audience. I thank everyone for making the evening so successful.

As chairman, I was able to make everyone aware of the issues that are of a major concern to our community at the very start of the meeting which are:

n The unfair treatment of our middle and primary schools and all the uncertainty about their future

n The unloading of our community centre by the council without any clear plan as to who can afford to take it over

n The proposed development of some 800 houses on the edge of our estate that might go ahead as soon as 2015 not 2031 as we were led to believe. We hope that we might see some action on all issues after the election.

I have been campaigning for years without success to get a surgery on this side of town but was very proud to have succeeded in getting the Day/Lewis Pharmacy into the Howard Precinct. I presented a petition to the Primary Care Trust many years ago and attended several of their meetings all to no avail. However now that the county council is taking over the role of the PCT, I feel that we may now receive a sympathetic hearing and perhaps get a surgery.

-- Ernie Broom, Chairman, Howard Estate Association of Residents and Tenants

There are ways to save money

I must assume that Joyce Kirk didn’t read the Bury Free Press of April 5 or she would not have been ‘astounded’ to discover that the two hour charge in the St Andrew’s car park had risen to £2 (Letters, April 26). You gave a full page spread to the new charging regime on the Friday before its introduction on Monday, April 8, and included a ‘Best Buys’ guide which I had compiled. Although St Andrew’s topped the list for 30 minutes (60p) and one hour (£1.10), I recommended either Parkway Decked or Ram Meadow for two hours at £1.50.

On her next visit to the town centre, Joyce Kirk would save 50p by simply parking in the multi-storey a short distance away from the St Andrew’s short-stay section. While this is 10p more than the ‘old’ charge in St Andrew’s, the recommendation made by the car parking charges review group, which I chaired, is that these tariffs remain unaltered for three years. This brings Joyce Kirk’s 42.8 per cent increase down to 2.4 per cent a year over those three years.

Given its close proximity to the public library and the mainly independent traders in St John’s Street, Risbygate Street and St Andrew’s Street North, the borough council is keen to freeze the 30 minutes and one hour charges in the St Andrew’s short-stay car park to encourage more usage by those customers wishing to explore the interesting and varied range of independent shops in these 3 streets on the fringe of the main retail area. Well worth a visit in my opinion.

-- David Nettleton, Chairman, Overview and Scrutiny Committee, St Edmundsbury Borough Council