Readers' views, Bury Free Press, Friday, July 6, 2018
ALL AGES UNITED IN BREXIT ANXIETY
It was great to see your coverage of the London People’s Vote march in last week’s issue. I was also marching with family, representing Bury St Edmunds. I was only 16 at the time of the EU referendum so was not given the opportunity to vote and, along with the vast majority of my age group, I would have voted to remain. But at the march were people from all ages, political persuasions and parts of the country.
What united them was clear: a genuine anxiety that the closer we get to March 19, that there is no agreement on a proposed deal, no strategy for negotiation and increasing evidence that Brexit is nothing but a disaster for our country. It’s clear a vote on the deal is the only democratic way of ensuring the outcome of Brexit talks are consistent with what people really want for the future.
Sam Chapman (18)
Bury St Edmunds.
APEX ALSO BRINGS BUSINESS TO TOWN
I was disappointed to read David Nettleton’s latest attack on the Apex (Readers’ Views, June 29). Perhaps I shouldn’t have expected anything different, given David’s continuous criticisms prior to and since the building’s construction, and his general approach to both the Arts and public services which appears to focus primarily on cost and not the wider benefits such services bring. The Apex brings huge pleasure to many members of our community by bringing high quality performing artists to our town. Many such artists have commented on the wonderful acoustics experienced and the beauty of the building. This has encouraged other artists to want to perform here. The Apex also provides a much-needed multi-functional public space for schools, community groups and local businesses. It was built because no such space existed in the town. The benefits of this building should not be taken lightly. Unlike David, not all members of our community are able to afford expensive travel and entry costs to out-of-town venues, and undoubtedly the loss of this facility would leave a cultural gap for many of our residents.
David’s glib disregard of the wider commercial benefits is also unhelpful. The Apex is envied by many of our neighbours in the eastern region. For many people from other towns, and counties, the quality of this venue and the artists that perform here, is what brings them to Bury St Edmunds in the first instance. When here they use local restaurants, pubs and other services. Having seen what Bury has to offer, many choose to return and use an even wider range of services. As indicated the main focus of David’s argument is finance. However, while it is clear that there is an imperative on local councils to ensure “best value” when it comes to public services, that calculation must look beyond cost and consider the broader benefits. There is a case for councils investing in important services, particularly during times of austerity.
It is praiseworthy that audience numbers have steadily increased and the current subsidy has reduced, and I applaud the work of council officers in achieving this success.
I also accept that there may be ways of reducing the subsidy further, which should be explored.
I am clear, however, that the starting point for any such review should be one of protecting this important public space, not losing it!
Bury St Edmunds.
DO NOT JUDGE SOLELY ON COSTS
We were disappointed to read Mr Nettleton’s letter regarding The Apex (Readers’ Views, June 29). We both think the venue is a wonderful facility for the town. It provides an enormous range of events and activities to cater for all tastes.
If we were to judge public utilities solely on their costs we would have no libraries, parks, art galleries or museums, to name but a few, and would fall into the trap of knowing the “price of everything and the value of nothing”.
Robin and Linda Howe
NOT ALL CAN AFFORD TO GO TO THE O2
Lucky you, Mr Nettleton, to be able to afford £65 for a ticket to an event at the O2 (Readers’ Views, June 29). Nearer to £100 by the time you take travel costs into account. Not everyone could!
You seem to have lost sight of the fact that many local schools put on performances at the Apex. What a showcase for our local children. Also, charities and other non-commercial enterprises use the facility for events to raise money and to promote the work they do.
Just as an aside, how much does it cost to maintain the Abbey Gardens and to open it every day, and how much income does that generate?
ROLLERCOASTER OF ENTERTAINMENT
Thurston Performing Arts gave another professional production, “Film Musicals”. What a troupe of musical dancers!
The audience were roller-coasted to some of film’s greatest musical events: The Greatest Show on Earth, Live and Let Die, West Side Story, Run, Boy, Run from The Divergent, by two extremely brilliant young girl dancers, giving their all to the music. #
Not to be left out, a mention for all the young boys in the dance company, from The Avengers, to Infinity War theme music. The whole crew, choreography and direction. Well done, Thurston, and thank you for a wonderful evening’s entertainment, you never disappoint. We’d award you an Oscar.
From two grateful grandparents.
Anne & Michael Torode
HELP US SUPPORT CITY OF SANCTUARY
City of Sanctuary is an organisation which has been set up to increase understanding of why people seek sanctuary, to celebrate the contributions of those people and to support the creation of a culture of welcome and inclusion to ensure that they will find places of safety wherever they go.
Cities, towns villages, churches, clubs - all across the UK, places of welcome and sanctuary are being established.
Ben Margolis is regional organiser; his first visit to Bury St Edmunds was received so enthusiastically that Amnesty BSE is delighted to have asked him to come back. Ben is also co-founder of The Grange, in Norfolk, a ‘home of sanctuary’, which has provided support for those fleeing persecution and torture.
All are welcome to this meeting on Tuesday, July 10, at 7.30 m at the Friends Meeting House. We welcome donations towards costs.
Chair, Amnesty International
Bury St Edmunds.
INCOMERS BRING BENEFITS TO US
Phillip Hodson (Readers’ Views, June 29) somehow equates 3.8million migrants from the EU with a total of 20million when families are included. Simple calculation shows that this is utterly misleading. If 3.8 million were all adults of reproductive age, it would be 1.9 million couples, and each couple would have to have 9 children to reach the 20 million mark. Clearly this is an unlikely scenario. He then states that families are massively expensive to the state and taxpayer, as if all of these couples were “benefit scroungers”, paying no tax or otherwise contributing to our society.
Of course, all this is largely “fake maths” as many of the EU migrants are young, single people, quite likely to form relationships with British partners. Furthermore, with few exceptions, EU migrants have come here to work and so make significant contributions to our economy, often doing jobs that UK-born citizens refuse to undertake. Equally, many have been highly educated in their home countries, so arrive fully qualified and are able to work in skilled jobs without incurring any costs to the UK of education or upbringing.
One wonders whether Mr Hodson has written in similar vein to newspapers in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA, to warn of the “huge burdens” imposed by the many millions of British migrants who have emigrated to those countries. Of course, he won’t have done so because he well knows that British migrants left the UK for a better life and have fully contributed to their new countries of residence. Very few left the UK with a view to “benefit scrounging” abroad and there is no reason to suppose that EU workers come here with those aims. In the odious xenophobia that has arisen in the Brexit debate, it is conveniently forgotten that a great many British people were once economic migrants. So let’s stop hating new incomers who are only doing what British people have done for centuries, and welcome their contributions to our economy and society.
Bury St Edmunds.
I hope Mr Hodson (Readers’ views June 29) ) will feel reassured by the following
facts: Immigrants from Poland and the other nine countries that joined the EU in 2004 contributed almost £5BILLION more to the UK economy than they used in benefits and public services according to an analysis by the University College London Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration November 2014. 57,000 out of the 1.2 million staff in the English NHS are citizens of other EU countries. These include doctors (10 per cent); nurses ((four per cent) and other professionals including paramedics, pharmacists, support workers providing care and administrative staff. The NHS would collapse without our EU nationals.
I think that the focus should change to the positive benefits we gain from the valuable contributions EU nationals make to our ageing society.
Bury St Edmunds.
SHORTAGE OF NHS DENTISTS IN TOWN
We all were saddened to lose our great dental practice on Kings road. Many of us rushed to sign up at the other NHS dentists on Risbygate street, that was months ago and we are still on a long waiting list.
This came to a head for me this weekend I had a really bad gum infection, it needed antibiotics and a dental inspection. I phoned 111, they could do nothing. The lady at the Risbygate practice could not have been kinder, but she could do nothing, as they had no new staff to take on new patients, so I was stuck. The emergency dentist on call was fully booked by 9 am, and after talking with 111, nothing was offered. I now have to phone again on Monday, to get some medication to cure the swelling. While a liquid diet is good for my waistline, the pain was not.
I hope to find a solution next week; I also hope to find a dental practice that can and will take me. As I no longer have a car it looks like many long bus rides ahead.
Surely a town the size of Bury St Edmunds needs more NHS dentists, or even any NHS dentists. Many of us cannot afford the cost of private treatment no matter how professional, its expensive, it’s the first time in my 75 years that I felt let down by the NHS, Its time this was sorted out as our town is expanding, while dental care seems to be on the wane.
Bury St Edmunds.
RAIL CROSSING SAFETY CONDITIONS ARE INADEQUATE
Following on from the outrageous decision made by Mid Suffolk District Council to approve five massive housing developments (totalling nearly 1,000 new houses and a new school) on the boundaries of Thurston village late last year, I am disgusted to learn that the condition relating to the safety in operation and the future safety management of the existing railway pedestrian crossing that will presumably be written into each planning approval, is to consist merely of an obligation on each developer to provide a copy of a Railway Users Plan to all occupants of the new houses:- in effect a “Green Cross Code” for a railway crossing!
During the planning meetings there was a great deal of concern and subsequent discussion with regard to what could be done to make the current pedestrian crossing safe to use, bearing in mind the anticipated significant increase in railway user numbers as a result of both the massive new developments and the anticipated cut in school transport services.
Several options were discussed, including re-opening an old pedestrian tunnel (too expensive), or forming a pedestrian walkway under the existing road bridge which would require the bridge to have traffic control measures. Mid Suffolk District Council’s corporate manager – growth and sustainable planning, Mr Isbell, was tasked by the planning committee councillors with wording a condition to be included with all the planning approvals to guarantee that adequate safety measures are taken to ensure the crossing will be safe in the future - something that Network Rail had expressed great concern about throughout the planning process. The resulting condition has now been published by the council as a clause in the planning approval document for one of the five developments.
Within the clause, in addition to the obligation on the developer to provide an “educational pack” to each new dwelling upon first occupation. A travel plan co-ordinator is also to be appointed to review on an annual basis, the usage of Thurston railway station and assess any changes to the risk involved.
In my opinion, this hardly constitutes the implementation and management of adequate measures to ensure the future safety of users of the railway crossing, many of whom will NOT be occupants of any of the new dwellings and many of whom may well be children attending Thurston Community College from the surrounding towns and villages.
I believe that this condition is totally inadequate and is merely an “easy-out” for the planning authorities; this betrays the trust of both the planning committee members and the general public and will curtail the necessary improvements required to the railway station to cope with larger passenger numbers.
It is about time that the Planning Authorities started to realise that they are accountable to the general public in all the decisions and resulting actions they take and that it is totally unacceptable to just pay “lip-service” to their concerns and requirements.
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