LETTERS: From the Bury Free Press of Friday, July 13
A DISTINCT COMMUNITY
The Local Government Boundary Commission for England has just produced a report on the electoral future for West Suffolk and Bury St Edmunds. It is in its public consultation phase. It has paid particular attention to Moreton Hall and taken into account not only the community as it is, but also the community as it will develop.
The new boundary will exclude Eastgate Street and everything to the west and north of Barton Road. Moreton Hall therefore, will be everything south of the railway line, north and east of the A14, and will end at Sow Lane and the new interchange (Junction 45) on to the A14. This means that the airfield and the fields beyond it will now be in Moreton Hall. This will match exactly the ecclesiastical boundaries as agreed by the Privy Council and the diocese. This will mean that Moreton Hall will be one continuous community served by three local councillors and an appropriate number of town councillors as well.
I think this is an excellent step forward as the people who live in the Eastgate area do not think of themselves as being part of Moreton Hall but rather part of Bury. It also means the schools and all the facilities are in a single area and therefore can be represented properly. Any existing link between us and Rougham is clearly divided by the A14. It is not appropriate for us to be part of a rural community that is miles away.
Therefore, I write to congratulate the Boundary Commission on their work and to applaud them for understanding the longstanding vision for Moreton Hall. This has always been to be a distinct and separate community but nonetheless part of the town of Bury, and St Edmundsbury borough or, as it will soon be, West Suffolk.
We often complain when the bureaucrats get it wrong but on this occasion I really do think they have got it right. I am delighted by their proposals, and I do hope that commonsense will prevail, not only amongst the electorate but also by those who are elected by us.
The Rev Canon Jonathan
Minister of Christ Church, Moreton Hall
CAMPAIGN FOR NHS GOES ON
The 70th birthday of our National Health Service on July 5 came and went. It had been celebrated by a huge national ‘celebrate and demonstrate’ rally in London the previous Saturday. During the slow procession in the heat from Portland Place to Whitehall, I spoke to a dermatologist from Liverpool and a retired GP who had worked both in London and Suffolk. One home-made poster carried the true words – ‘Surgery won’t fix these cuts’. To take part, MPs Jo Churchill and Matthew Hancock would have been disloyal to their Government. They remained loyalists.
On June 26, some 40 local people gathered in the Oddfellows Hall, in Bury, for a trades council-organised public forum on the NHS funding crisis. Terry Skyrme, of the Norfolk Suffolk Mental Health Crisis Campaign, spoke of the desperate situation of mental health services in Norfolk. Dr John Lister, of Health Campaigns Together, was eloquent about the need to resist the cutting plans of the STP boards, whose Suffolk and North East Essex variant does not allow members of the public to attend and listen, let alone ask questions. Newly elected Labour councillor Max Clarke spoke strongly in support of better NHS funding. Ex-mayor Julia Wakelam, of the Green Party, attended.
On June 29, the West Suffolk Hospital Trust Board – which does permit public attendance and even allows questions – met. While the trust was less than half a million in debt for the 2017-18 financial year, it has been compelled to accept a planned deficit of £13.8 million for the current financial year – so long as further savings of £12.2 million are made. This must be striving for the impossible. Patients as well as hospital bank balances will suffer.
Meanwhile, Jo Churchill’s notorious charge of ‘profligacy’ on the part of heavily indebted hospitals has not been withdrawn, and her mute refusal to answer the question of whether WSH is innocent of ‘profligacy’ is maintained. Instead, as WSH chief executive Stephen Dunn reported verbally to the board, she had lately told him that the funding promised needs ‘to be reciprocated by sustainability transformation’.
But what does that mean? An objective answer can be found in the minutes of the STP board meeting of June 22, 2017, when there was a passing reference to the fact that ‘the main emphasis of the STP is to reduce both demand and growth’. That must mean, tragically, failing an increasing number of patients, and in consequence, because hospital trusts are far from keen to do that, increasing deficits and ‘profligacy’. The local ‘Defend the NHS’ campaign will continue.
Secretary, West Suffolk
THE APEX IS A WONDERFUL VENUE FOR MUSIC
The Apex is a wonderful venue, particularly for music.
I used to live in Bromley Kent and went to Fairfield Halls, in Croydon. I used to think that was good, but The Apex eclipses that.
There are some good turns, particularly the schools music programme.
No, it is great!
Bury St Edmunds
GET THE WELL-OFF TO PAY FULL PRICE
The Apex is a brilliant venue with a comprehensive range of events. I often go but I am conscious that my ticket is subsidised by others.
Surely a much fairer system would be to allow those on low incomes to enjoy a large discount on their tickets and those with deeper pockets to pay the unsubsidised price? Why should only the well-off be able to afford and enjoy the entertainment?
The financial problem at The Apex, highlighted in recent letters, happened because officers and councillors budgeted on 1,100 capacity then, as an afterthought, consulted the Fire Service, who recommended 700-750 max – a knockout punch for financial viability.
Bury St Edmunds
‘USER PAYS’ SHOULD APPLY TO CONCERTS
According to Gloria Saunders, I am ‘lucky’ to be able to afford £65 for a ticket at an event at the O2 Arena in November plus the train fare to King’s Cross and back (Readers’ Views, July 6). It’s not luck, but thrift. I budget monthly and set aside £20 for theatre and sports events. Over the year, this amounts to £240. Like many others, I exist on average earnings – what Theresa May calls the ‘just about managing’.
In 2017, my main event was a visit to the Old Trafford Cricket Ground in August to watch the last day’s play in the England v South Africa test match. I booked a seat almost exactly where I sat when my father first took me to OT when I was eight years old. I did wonder what he would have made of the changes there if he was still alive. I hope he would have approved. Together with the train fares, the day out did cost me over £100, but I had saved up for it as I pay my way in life rather than expecting someone else to subsidise my entertainment choices.
This August, I’m going to the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall to listen to orchestral works by Edward Elgar and Sergei Prokofiev – two of my favourite composers, in addition to the rock concert at the O2 Arena in November.
Gloria mentions local schools performances, which I didn’t criticise. Councillors get a locality budget and I have used mine in the past to pay for foster children and their foster parents to attend the pantomime at the Theatre Royal, and more recently, sponsored another Theatre Royal event, this time at the Albany PRU in Beard Road. I went along to this one myself to watch a small group of actors perform for the pupils, and to show my support for the work the staff do at the Albany. It’s public money, not mine, so I don’t publicise what I do in the social media.
Gloria tries to draw a comparison between The Apex and the Abbey Gardens, but there isn’t one. The Abbey Gardens is a public open park, free at the point of use. There is no turnstile or box office. The user pays principle should apply at The Apex concerts. It doesn’t at present – hence the taxpayer subsidy.
I’m not expecting Bury St Edmunds to match the range of entertainments on offer in London or Manchester, but if Halifax and Scunthorpe can attract top-class rock stars, why can’t Bury? Do we have to settle for second best? I hope not.
CONSERVATIVES STARTED POST OFFICE CLOSURES
Re Jo Churchill’s article on ‘people rely on local post offices’ (Bury Free Press, July 6)
So many post offices have been closed in and around Bury St Edmunds within the last few years. Perhaps Jo Churchill needs reminding that it was her government that started cutting back on the much-needed post office services.
So why is Jo Churchill now stating that ‘I have been vocal in my efforts to work with the Post Office’? Where was her voice before the post office cuts?
NOTES ON A PIANO MOVEMENT
While I have lived in Bury for only five years I thought that I had seen most of the idiosyncrasies that this wonderful town has to offer.
Today I saw a new one – let’s call it the wandering piano.
At 6 am this morning an upright piano was being pushed down the road by two young men; at 1pm it was on its way back up the road being pushed by four young men; by 3pm it was on its way back down again.
Was this some sort of competition to see how far you could push a piano?
Perhaps someone should notify the RSPP (Royal Society of Protection for Pianos)
Bury St Edmunds
CHEAP WAYS TO IMPROVE JUNCTION
There was another traffic accident last week at Fishwick Corner (a crossroads) in Thurston.
Fortunately, this is a problem that the county council (the local highways authority) can easily and cheaply resolve, if it wishes to do so, by:
- Putting up appropriate warning signs (eg ‘dangerous junction 100 metres ahead’ or ‘x accidents so far this year’). Similar signs are used at other accident-prone spots around the country.
- Paying a local contractor to cut back two or three times each summer the long grasses that restrict the line of vision of drivers waiting to cross the junction.
- Consider inserting rumble strips or changing the right of way at the junction by turning the ‘Halt’ signs thorugh 90 degrees.
The solutions suggested above are very obvious ones that can be implemented quickly. In a large authority like a county council, senior officers have control over large budgets and have wide-ranging powers to authorise action themselves (without having to get approval from a committee), and the required expenditure can be quickly authorised, once any necessary consultations have been carried out.
AN UPSETTING VISION OF ‘FUN’
Was anyone else deeply disturbed by the photograph in your coverage of a young child, smiling happily as he had his finger on the trigger of a serious looking firearm, capable of killing hundreds? An upsetting and distorted vision of ‘fun’.
Bury St Edmunds
-- We welcome your letters. Email email@example.com or send them to: Readers’ Views, Bury Free Press, King’s Road, Bury St Edmunds IP33 3ET.
Please keep your contribution succinct. The deadline for letters is noon on the Tuesday before publication.