Your views, Bury Free Press, Friday, August 24
TRAFFIC WOES PUT PEOPLE OFF
There seems to be a concern that roadworks in Bury may not be finished in time for the Christmas Fayre.
This surprises me, because no-one has ever cared about the adverse effect on all trades in Bury of five-plus years of random, unexpected roadworks. We’ve had times when all roads in and out of Bury have been governed by temporary traffic lights, sometimes within 50 metres of each other! I deal with people all day, and I’m told over and over they don’t come to Bury because of the disruption and lack of parking. I note the closure of St Andrew’s Street South for nine weeks will virtually cut off the town centre. Cars can use Churchgate Street and College Street if they’re not blocked by stupid and selfish parking, but what about delivery lorries?
The Christmas Fayre has been going downhill. Everyone agrees last year was a disaster and I saw it first-hand. People won’t queue for a parking space for two hours from Great Barton, only to be told when they finally reach Ram Meadow that there are no spaces. They simply don’t come back.
With the slightest display of competence in traffic management this wouldn’t happen. Why is it not possible to tell people the car parks are full before they leave the main road? It only takes two or three people with radios.
Anyway, why are we worried about loads of stallholders from miles away taking money out of Bury? How about encouraging local traders rather than pricing them out of the market?
REVIEW PARKING AND BUSINESS FEES
There is much discussion about whether retail will have a future in our city centres with the big shift to internet shopping. Bury St Edmunds has so far escaped fairly unscathed from retail decline, but just recently we are seeing a number of shops closed or moved out of town. It is vital that St Edmundsbury makes intelligent decisions NOW in order to help reduce its decline.
I, together with many others, have expressed frustration that BSE has not changed any of its car parks to pay on exit. This has so many advantages I fail to see why St Edmundsbury has not done anything about this. St Edmundsbury should look at how Ipswich has re-vamped its Crown car park with lots of good ideas such as pay on exit and low charges (congratulations Ipswich).
I think Bury St Edmunds parking charges are reasonable, however, it is important that they are not increased. Furthermore, if footfall starts to decline then parking charges should be reviewed and, if necessary, reduced. John Timpson makes this point time and again.
Then there is the question of business rates, which must be looked at. However, this is something which needs central government to review so that retail can compete fairly with internet shopping.
BID under Mark Cordell is doing an excellent job, but there is a limit to what they can achieve to stop retail decline.
MAKE THETFORD GREAT AGAIN
I feel compelled to share my amusement over confirmation of why Thetford (the ancient capital of Anglia), more recently, has always lagged behind Bury St Edmunds with resources and facilities.
This is one small example of the wide gap in forward thinking between two councils.
There is a current parallel between two adjoining district councils approaches towards changing ward/parish boundaries. Here in Norfolk we have Breckland District Council insisting on a recommendation for yet a THIRD consultation for alterations to parish boundaries in a 5,000-home construction development because they didn’t get the result they wanted. This is despite the obvious positive response and overwhelming voice of Thetford residents, to include the parishes of Croxton, Brettenham and Kilverstone.
While at the same time, West Suffolk Council has already decided to change Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury’s boundaries after consultation with their respective residents. Talk about BDC’s small inward petty mindedness – or does it go deeper at playing politics rather than building on the growth and potential of a primary town located in a primary corridor. Make Thetford great again!
PARTNERSHIP, NOT A TAKEOVER
In his article on behalf of the Bury Society – the self-appointed guardians of town, whose seven key members don’t think it necessary to seek election to any of the three local councils before claiming to speak on behalf of the people – Martyn Taylor asks if the town council could take over the mayoralty if the newly-created West Suffolk Council chose not to apply for borough status (BFP August 17). The answer is, yes it can. It doesn’t need permission from anyone. Newmarket and Haverhill town councils already operate a mayoralty, funded by the local taxpayers.
Martyn clearly thinks that everyone in West Suffolk should pay towards a Bury mayor. Well, he would, wouldn’t he? I will be told that it wouldn’t be just a Bury Mayor, but the office is aligned so closely with the Cathedral and religion that the ‘outreach’ work is only a part. It’s hard to envisage an atheist fulfilling the role of mayor at any level, unless they pretend to believe in something they don’t think is true.
His article is headed ‘Action is needed now to retain Borough status… and with it, the office of mayor’. The key word here is ‘retain’. West Suffolk Council is to be a merger between Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury, not a takeover by the latter. St Edmundsbury is larger with a roughly 65:35 percentage split. So, ‘retain’ isn’t the right word for anyone to use. I’m one borough councillor who wants to work with our Forest Heath colleagues to deliver an equal partnership. I hope that I’m not alone.
Martyn claims that when Bury St Edmunds Town Council was formed in 2003, it opted for a chairman rather than mayor. It did start with a chairman, but at its first meeting on 13 May, 2003, voted to change that to mayor. None of the newly-elected town councillors had mentioned this in their election leaflets, but I had in mine. I wrote: ‘A Town Mayor isn’t necessary as there is already a Borough Mayor. Even New York City has only one mayor. We don’t need two on the podium’. The ‘two mayors’ farce continued until the 2007 election, when public support for the town council dropped to 43 per cent from a high of 70 per cent in the 2001 referendum. The town council has never really recovered, despite the valiant efforts of Andrew Speed, elected as chairman in 2015, to give it the kiss of life.
If borough status is not sought – it would take two-thirds of West Suffolk councillors to vote for it – I hope candidates at next May’s town council election in Bury will indicate how much the council tax will go up to pay for a new robe, chains, badges, brooches, jabots – that’s the frilly white bib – and three-cornered hat. And remember, there will need to be a deputy mayor, kitted out in something equally fetching. Will there be a car and a chauffeur? We should be told!
Bury St Edmunds
FALL IN FUNDING FOR SIXTH FORMS
Spare a thought for all the young people receiving their A-level and GCSE results this month.
The UK’s post-Brexit success depends on them. Not on the grades they get, but on the kind of people they are.
They will be the ones who take and create the jobs of the future. Jobs that will require a breadth of skills and not necessarily a narrow band of academic study.
Young people should be able to choose from a broad range of subjects post-16, including technical and vocational. But there are more restrictions on the subjects offered than ever before.
Sixth form funding has fallen sharply since 2010 whilst government expectation that students follow a more academic core of subjects has risen. Schools and colleges are finding it harder than ever to prepare young people for the future.
And with Brexit looming, the Government needs to address this urgently.
General Secretary, National
Association of Head Teachers
TIME TO GET YOUR KETTLES ON
Macmillan Cancer Support’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning is fast approaching and we would love for readers In Bury St Edmunds to again get involved. Having become a national institution since it launched in 1990, it has raised millions to help change the lives of people living with cancer.
Last year some 200,000 people said that they were planning on taking part in homes,
workplaces and schools across the country – but the idea remains as simple as ever: come together as a community in support of people living with cancer and raise money for Macmillan.
Cancer can affect every aspect of a person’s life, from their day-to-day living and relationships, to their finances and mental health. Macmillan is there to help people with cancer live life as fully as they can. Offering a broad range of cancer information and support services – including a free support line and a community of over 7,700 healthcare professionals – demand for Macmillan’s services is constantly growing, but we rely on the generosity of the public to provide this support.
Macmillan’s Coffee Morning takes place on Friday, September 28 (but people can host whenever they want) and people will be making a difference, however they get involved.
Throughout September, headline partner M&S will be selling a selection of limited edition Coffee Morning products – including lots of cakes, biscuits and two exclusive mugs – with 10 per cent of proceeds going to Macmillan. Homes, workplaces and communities from the Shetland Islands to Land’s End will be hosting Coffee Mornings this year; readers can find events nearby using the interactive map on the Coffee Morning website (www.macmillan.org.uk/coffee). Thank you to everyone who gets involved: every Coffee Morning changes lives.
on behalf of
Macmillan Cancer Support
London SE1 7UQ.