Your letters from the Bury Free Press of Friday, October 26, 2018
APPEAL RESULT: OPEN SEASON FOR DEVELOPERS
I am writing to express my total lack of confidence in the ability of Mid Suffolk District Council (MSDC) to manage housing land supply in this area which will not ruin the landscape and villages subject to speculative developers.
Due to the recent appeal by the developer for Green Road in Woolpit being controversially upheld by the appeal court, an unfettered race by developers to obtain agricultural land at ridiculously high prices in order to build houses has been released.
I live in Woolpit and we have already had planning approved for 169 new houses and have another application before us for 300. We have 900 houses at the moment so this would represent a 50 per cent increase.
The planning permission for 49 houses in Green Road was turned down by the parish council with a huge turnout by the village all opposed to the development. The proposal was then turned down by MSDC and went to appeal. The developer managed to convince the appeal judge that MSDC could not prove that they had sufficient housing land supply for the next five years, only for 3.5 years. MSDC failed to prove that the builders were actually going to build the houses.
In a BBC Radio Suffolk interview on October 5, Glen Horn, the MSDC cabinet member responsible for planning, stated: “ We do not agree with the Inspector’s decision and on that basis we are seeking legal counsel as to how we can challenge it.” However, to a further question he said: “The other side of the coin is that there are people who are looking forward to this development who welcome it who welcome the growth in their community – we really haven’t got it wrong.”
We in Woolpit are horrified by that last remark as the only people in favour of this particular development are those who will have a financial gain from it. We do welcome some proportionate development in our village and we are working frantically on our Neighbourhood Plan which will identify many suitable sites for potential development.
An inability of MSDC to prove that they have sufficient housing land supply is an inexcusable dereliction of their duty.
We are in a Catch-22 situation as it is totally in any developer’s interest to say that they are going to delay the building of the houses on their land so that the allocation for the DC is never reached. The council will not dare to refuse another developer as they cannot afford to lose another case.
Thus we have open season for developers. What can now stop the irreversible urbanisation of our rural roads; the destruction of important views; ruination of the unique setting of the village in its landscape and overwhelming of our village infrastructure?
We do not want Woolpit to become a town. Although we had an open meeting with the parish council, attended by 50 villagers, which was again unanimous against this latest development of 300 houses by Hopkins Homes(DC/18/04247) we fear that it will be passed by the MSDC, as they do not have an up-to-date Local Plan (since 1998) and they can’t prove that they have a housing Land Supply for five years, so they cannot turn down speculative development.
We are feeling very disenfranchised and angry with how MSDC is handling planning in this area.
HOSPITAL AREA: OVERWHELMING TRAFFIC ISSUES
Two items caught my eye in last week’s BFP: firstly, the news item on the eye-watering £440k that West Suffolk Hospital staff have had to stump up in car park charges over the past year; and secondly your correspondent, John Watkin’s assertion that something must be done about the congestion in our local road system.
I have great sympathy with our local NHS Trust in having to try to balance the books in an underfunded health service and the temptation of ever increasing the scope and range of car parking charges. I also acknowledge that it has made extra provision on site recently. But what does appal is the cost to poorly-paid staff, who have suffered a lengthy pay freeze until this year, which NHS Improvement considers to be a commercial development opportunity. The old adage of no man is an island applies to this situation as large numbers of hospital staff seeking to escape these charges now park their cars inconsiderately in local streets, particularly Barons Road, which is also a busy bus route. This causes congestion and great difficulty for residents in accessing and leaving their properties. Literally one takes one life in one’s hand getting out of one’s drive! The greensward at the Barons Road/Hardwick Lane/Vinery Road junction has now turned into an illegal hospital car park, with cars driving over the kerbs to access it. Official responses to requests for action are met with the response that it is just moving the problem around. Suggestions from the hospital that street parking is not their problem are disingenuous.
John Watkin is right that the issue of more and more traffic in our town needs to be addressed. The Cullum Road/Wilks Round is now totally snarled up from mid afternoon to early evening – to the extent that one feels effectively marooned in one’s home for a good part of the day. Queues regularly stretch back to near the West Suffolk Hospital entrance at peak time. What is needed is some joined-up thinking and planning by our local authorities. Any candidates authentically pledging this in next year’s elections will certainly get my vote.
Bury St Edmunds
SALLY ARMY: THANKS FOR HELP WITH VITAL WORK
The Salvation Army’s annual appeal has taken place throughout September. The church and charity’s Big Collection raises vital funds for its diverse programme of life-changing social and community services.
We at Norton Salvation Army were out collecting, knocking on doors asking for donations, and we would like to take this opportunity to say a great big thank you for all the donations and good wishes we received. All donations to the Big Collection directly support The Salvation Army’s work with 100 per cent of money raised used to care for people who are vulnerable or in need.
Norton Salvation Army church and community centre is part of a network of over 800 centres delivering services to people and communities day-in, day-out. Without public support we could not do what we do.
At Norton we have Tea & Toast, Mondays at 8.45am, a chance to meet over breakfast; a toddler group, Mondays 9.30 – 11.30am; a young people’s club Tuesdays 6-7pm, and on Thursday from 11.30am a weekly community lunch, where people are able to come and meet each other and have a meal. We also have Craft Club on the third Friday of each month at 7pm at our Hall.
Funds raised through the Big Collection will help The Salvation Army continue transforming lives throughout the UK. This includes supporting men, women and families who are experiencing homelessness, running care homes and day centres for older people, reuniting families through our Family Tracing Service and training and advising people looking for sustained employment, as well as providing a place of safety for victims of modern slavery.
Again, thank you very much for thinking of the Salvation Army.
Captains Andrew and
Norton Salvation Army
KERBS: BURY NOT FRIENDLY TO WHEELCHAIRS
I read the Bury Free Press avidly every week. I’ve had 17 spinal operations that have left me with chronic pain and unable to walk far. I lost my husband earlier this year, so managing life is difficult as he did all the shopping. My children live in Deeping St James and Rendlesham, so aren’t on the doorstep, however, they make a tremendous effort to ring and visit as often as they can as they have very busy lives. Tracey is a teacher and Jez a social worker, so anytime I see them it’s a great fillip to the grave sadness I feel. They ring me and tell me they are taking me to town. They push me in my wheelchair, and over the last few months I have found out out just how unfriendly Bury is for disabled folk like me. Even using designated crossings from one pavement to another is hard work as the “lips” aren’t low enough for easy access. Most pavements are themselves uneven. I didn’t venture out when my hubby was here, as he wasn’t well enough to push me anywhere. I have to make the effort now, not only to do shopping, but have lunch, too, and spend precious time with the children. They volunteer and come willingly and we love each other very much. I saw a small article in your newspaper about the council’s intention to do repairs. I hope that whoever walks round the town doing a reconnaisance bears in mind the dear folk who take a friend or loved one into the town and have to endeavour to find the best route possible that will speed them to their destination. How wonderful it would be if the pusher of a wheelchair could just freely go up and down the kerbs without even thinking about it. The more publicity you give to “Unfriendly Bury” the better, and perhaps with improvements we can become user-friendly in due course. Please let it be sooner rather than later.
Bury St Edmunds
SOCIAL CARE: BUDGET MUST RESTORE SERVICES
In the past few weeks it was revealed that Suffolk County Council’s Support to Live At Home scheme has had to be scrapped, after it was described as causing anxiety and distress to vulnerable adults. This scheme was introduced in 2015, when the county council tendered personal care out to fewer care providers and forced people to change accordingly. Suffolk County Council has now said the Support to Live At Home model was based on geographical lines while the new model will be more “flexible” and offer more “bespoke services based on individual needs”.
At the same time, nationally, the number of old people receiving social care support in their own homes has fallen sharply since 2015, even though reports say that the number of elderly people has increased by 400,000 during this time. Sixty-eight local authorities out of 122 who responded to Freedom of Information requests said they were providing help in fewer cases, and these councils alone were providing 20,000 fewer care packages. Most blamed funding pressure, which has caused budgets to be reduced by well over 40 per cent since 2010. This means there are an extra 20,000 older people without help to eat, wash, or use the toilet.
The whole system is illogical but worse, it’s uncaring and unfit for purpose. As people are living longer, and with dementia cases predicted to increase, they will eventually need more constant help. If they have no family, or their carer can no longer cope, what then?
I’m sure everyone agrees that there must be an overhaul and better integration of Social Care with healthcare. Assistance at home is one option for those who prefer it, but for others with severe dementia or other complex long-term medical problems it would be more humane to offer them good quality residential care.
However I have recently discovered that residential care costs in Bury St Edmunds typically vary from £950 to £1,250 per week, although the county council caps its contributions at £581 (for those with special needs) leaving the balance to be paid by a third party.
We must give older people the care they deserve by investing properly in social care and in the Budget the Chancellor will have the opportunity. He could make a start by: reversing next year’s planned £1.3bn cut to council budgets; immediately investing £2bn in adult social care to stop these vital emergency services from collapsing; pledging to use the Spending Review to restore council funding to 2010
levels over the next four
This will be a good start ahead of the main aim which must be fairly and properly funded social care.
Cllr Diane Hind
St Edmundsbury Borough Council
LADYBOYS AT APEX: SHOW IS JUST NOT MY CUP OF TEA
Regarding the recent visit to the Apex by the Ladyboys of Bangkok, “Name and address supplied” thinks that “the men of Bury St Edmunds and surrounding areas have some sort of agenda” which I find baffling (Readers’ Views, October 19).
Perhaps the writer could enlighten us as to what this secret, conspiratorial “agenda” could be, please.
I for one, as a heterosexual male, have no desire to support, watch or listen to men (who pretend to be women, regardless of whether they have ‘transitioned’ or not) dance and sing, no matter how good or polished a performance.
Each to their own, I say. If this is what “Name and address supplied” likes to support, watch and listen to, then good for you, but it is not my cup of tea and I will not be appearing in the audience, (again), at the Ladyboys’ next visit to Bury.
Don’t watch this space.
ANIMAL CRUELTY: REAL FUR ON SALE AT BURY MARKET
It is disappointing that real fur is still for sale on Bury market. After complaints to the market inspector and adverse publicity about the issue, some people think it acceptable to profit from the suffering of animals. Many councils have now banned the sale of real fur and yet St Edmundsbury still sanctions this cruel trade. There were several stalls on the last Christmas market selling it. It is unncessary to inflict animals to cruelty for what is basically an unethical product.
PEOPLE’S VOTE: SENSIBLE CHOICE
It is good that there is lively correspondence in the BFP about Brexit but I was somewhat perturbed by the letter from Ian Smith last week. It jumped to the conclusion that I thought all elections should be re-run because more people come of age to vote as time passes. This is of course complete nonsense. Parliamentary elections take place every four or five years so the time frame is adequate to sweep up newly qualified voters. The Brexit arrangements are completely different; they are a step change in our relationship with neighbouring and far-flung countries. I hope that Mr Smith realises this; it is not a game. People who were 16 at the time of the referendum have a legitimate gripe that they will not be consulted on the changes now that they have reached voting age, changes that are likely to have a big effect on their future prosperity (one way or the other). A people’s vote now is entirely democratic and sensible for this reason and also because pre-referendum discussion could never be clear about what is on offer now.