Your views, January 25

Temperature rule is arbitrary

Tayfen House in Bury St Edmunds was set up by the council as a replacement for the Night Shelter which had been run for some years, predominantly by dedicated volunteers and in the face

of some hostility, it has to be said, in the Lathbury Institute in Bury. Its remit was to provide supported direct access accommodation. The reasons why people become homeless are many and various and their problems are complex; skilled help with those problems is necessary. Sadly, the places at Tayfen House are limited. Nevertheless, the primary purpose of Tayfen House is to provide a place of shelter and not to do so when the weather is as bad as it was over Christmas is inhumane.

Some years ago, due, in my view, to public pressure, Tayfen agreed to make emergency accommodation available but only when the temperature fell below freezing. I am told this is the Government guideline. This is an arbitrary and illogical guideline which should be ignored. I understand that without such a guideline deciding when the weather is bad enough to open the emergency accommodation could be difficult. Surely the answer is that there should always be emergency rooms available. In my experience, some people who are homeless are so in a crisis. We now provide emergency food through the Foodbank; surely we can provide some emergency accommodation?

I fear that Government policies will greatly increase the numbers of people sleeping on our streets. The imminent changes to Council Tax benefit are going to hit people very hard in low wage high rent areas like Bury. Only voting out the Tories in the next election will change that. Here in Bury we can only make such small changes as we can and this would be a start. Building more social housing would be another as would looking into making empty properties available to rent.

Julia Wakelam

Green Party councillor for Risbygate Ward (and ex chair of the Night Shelter)


Look into more

I am sure that both Suffolk’s chief executive Deborah Cadman and the cabinet member for education, Cllr Graham Newman, have seen data which shows that ‘in areas which have gone through reorganisation, schools produced significant improvements at Key Stage 2’. What they may not be aware of is that alongside closing middle schools, the reorganisation involves an intensive and comprehensive classroom intervention programme in the expanded primary schools. It is actually these interventions rather than closing middle schools, which are responsible for any improvements at Key Stage 2. These same classroom interventions are equally effective in all schools regardless of their organisation. Clearly, these interventions deliver results quickly. They are also much cheaper than closing schools.

Furthermore, the 2012 Key Stage 2 data from DfE reveal that in Suffolk, some 60 per cent more children are in two tier schools than three tier schools. This means that a very significant majority of Suffolk’s Key Stage 2 results come from its two tier schools.

Enough is indeed enough –more reorganisation with middle schools being closed will not deliver the educational improvements which Suffolk’s children desperately need but comprehensive classroom interventions will.

Dr Viv Hughes



All complaints treated seriously

I write following the letter from John Stebbing (Bury Free Press, January 18) regarding West Suffolk Hospital. We are sorry that Mr Stebbing is unhappy with some aspects of the care his wife received, and would like to take this opportunity to once again extend our condolences to him and his family and reiterate our apologies.

We take all complaints very seriously and carried out a full and thorough investigation into Mr Stebbing’s concerns. His complaint was also reviewed by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, who decided not to investigate the matters raised. We would encourage Mr Stebbing to contact us again so that we can discuss his wife’s care further if he feels that this would be helpful.

We want everybody who uses the hospital to have a positive experience and are committed to ensuring that all of our patients receive the best possible treatment. We welcome

feedback, and use the comments we receive to identify existing good practice as well as any areas where we could improve further. We would encourage anyone who has concerns about their treatment to talk to us as soon as they can so that we can take action to resolve any issues and see if there are any lessons we could learn.

Stephen Graves

Chief executive

West Suffolk Hospital


Private sector is not the answer

There’s been a lot said about the lack of affordable homes for local people in Bury recently, and the situation is clearly dire. Developers are not building, mortgages are out of the reach of most young families, the Government is changing the rules on Housing Benefit which will throw some of the most vulnerable out onto the streets and, to cap it all, the money that is made available to housing associations to build new affordable houses for rent has been massively cut. What a shame that St Edmundsbury is not in a position to build new council houses, unlike Ipswich. Families in Bury deserve to have public representatives that actually believe in the public provision of housing – if we can learn one lesson from the credit crunch it is that we can’t just leave this to the private sector.

Sandy Martin

Leader, Suffolk County Council Labour Group


School achieved good results

Geoff Barton again refers (Bury Free Press, January 18) to the GCSE English exam results last year. Strange that the neighbouring County Upper School seemed to see what was coming, took appropriate action and achieved its usual good results.

E N Allen

Bury St Edmunds