A selection of readers’ letters from the Bury Free Press of Friday, April 10.
WE STILL NEED YOUR SUPPORT
Recently, NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group announced its commitment to continuing with its annual £1.1 million grant for St Nicholas Hospice Care for the next four years, in an agreement which is one the first of its kind between a clinical commissioning group and a hospice.
Although this is undoubtedly an encouraging commitment from WSCCG towards our work, it should not be viewed as additional or new money raised for the hospice.
It is important for people to know that in addition to this grant we still need to raise £11,000 every day of the year to provide our expanding services, which care for the West Suffolk and Thetford communities.
As you can imagine, this is a huge challenge and I am keen to make it clear that the £1.1 million we will be receiving from the NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioners still leaves us with a huge gap to fill, as our NHS funding covers under a quarter of our actual funding requirements.
While we are pleased to have signed this four-year grant agreement, we still need the help and support of the communities of West Suffolk and Thetford if the Hospice is to continue supporting people facing long-term and life-threatening illnesses, and to help make living with dying better.
-- Kevin Clements, Director of Fundraising and Marketing, St Nicholas Hospice Care
HUB SITE IS WRONG PLACE
I wish to add my voice to the growing chorus of disapproval coming from the residents of Fornham St Martin and Great Barton to the West Suffolk Operational Hub, proposed for Hollow Road Farm just off Compiegne Way. While not against the principle of this combined waste ‘hub’, this is totally the wrong location for it for several reasons. This will be a large industrial complex, containing the household tip to be moved from Rougham Hill, plus a new waste transfer station and parking for all council lorries.
Household waste, in the tonnages predicted, and already up to two weeks old on arrival, cannot but create a smell when dumped sorted and reloaded for disposal. We already get enough whiffs from the sugar beet factory!
The roundabout on Barton Hill is too dangerous to accommodate even more traffic. That from the closure of the Rougham Hill Tip, dustcarts arriving and leaving, and the transfer lorries running 24/7, and any future new housing, (1,000 houses proposed on Tut Hill for example), all will have to use this roundabout to access the site. This will only make this roundabout even more dangerous to Barton Hill residents already taking our lives in our hands as we enter this roundabout blind due to the high bank on the right hand side.
I’ve recently been advised this proposal contravenes the council’s own visions and strategies set out in the Bury Vision 2031 plan. This states that ‘farms, woodland, and coverts to the northeast of Bury should be conserved for wildlife in the light of climate change’. Also, five areas for industrial development were set out in Core Strategy Policy CS11, but Hollow Road Farm was not one of them.
So when did these policies get ripped up?
Common sense should surely dictate that only a site in an industrial location away from farms and domestic development should be considered for something of this nature and size. I hear our local and SCC councillor has already resigned her brief as chairperson for waste disposal over this issue. Good on her. Is she just the first one leaving the sinking ship?
I look forward to hearing soon that this hare-brained scheme has quietly been dropped by the council.
-- T G Palfrey, Fornham St Martin
This newspaper correctly reported a fortnight ago that the West Suffolk Trades Union Council (WSTUC) had written to all the parliamentary candidates for West Suffolk and Bury St Edmunds to ask where they stood on important issues.
In fact, we asked each of them if they agreed, if elected, to demand and support, without reservation, the following policies:
1)The NHS must continue to be in the public sector, without new charges to patients and without further privatisation or reduction of present provision.
2)Through urgent legislation, better employment opportunities, to include the lifting of the current statutory minimum wage to at least the current ‘living wage’ of £7.85 an hour (outside London) and an end to ‘zero hours’ employment contracts.
3)Reduced public transport fares, to include a significant reduction in rail fares and the extension of senior citizens’ free bus passes to the rail network.
We have received some replies already, and await others. Although we have not yet received a response from Jo Churchill, Bury St Edmunds’ Conservative candidate, her letter (Bury Free Press, March 27) indicates that while the NHS ‘is to be valued and protected’, the only means of doing so is ‘to have a strong economy’. Her answer to 1) above therefore appears to be a resounding ‘No’.
We will write again to the Bury Free Press with a summary of responses received. We believe the issues raised are of great importance to many voters.
-- John Ellison, Secretary, West Suffolk Trades Council
PUMPING MONEY INTO TORY COFFERS
I see that the leaders of some companies are signing letters stating ‘how wonderful the Conservative party is’.
One should point out that the Conservative party is the political wing of the tax avoiders and hedge funds collective.
Why else would they be pumping millions of pounds into the Tory coffers?
One should ask: “What are they expecting for their huge donations?”
If they do manage to get elected, don’t be old, sick or very poor, after all you will only be classed as a sponger.
-- J K Apps, Bury St Edmunds
POLITICS REALLY MATTER TO US ALL
John Henderson’s column (Bury Free Press, April 3) was based on someone asking for more election coverage. According to John Henderson, that person is not a ‘normal’ Bury Free Press reader. That person is me. Mr Henderson’s article was based on some back-and-forth Twitter debate about politics and election coverage, that started when Jo Churchill got selected as the party candidate. I objected to the fact that none of the other parties – especially the Greens and Labour, who had also selected new candidates – had been granted similar double-page spread coverage, and I accused the paper of bias – an accusation which Mr Henderson also used in his article.
The overriding message from Mr Henderson’s article (and from his comments to me on Twitter) is that politics isn’t engaging or important. I would like to refute that in my own words. And yes, I did ask for more election coverage.
Firstly, politics itself is so fundamental to our daily lives. The word ‘politics’ has been conflated with ‘Parliament’ or ‘government’, which we see as disconnected from us. But politics is essentially about how we organise our society; who should control resources; how should we educate our children; who counts as a citizen; how can we feel safe. Most people care about such things – and therefore politics is important to them. When an election is imminent, we need to make sure we understand and discuss the different ways that decisions about such things might be made. We need to get to know the people who might – if elected – be making those decisions; newspapers such as the Bury Free Press have an important role in this. The system has changed (to fixed term Parliaments) so we know when an election is going to be. This means we have the chance to spend time considering and debating who might best represent us. Bury has five parliamentary candidates, three of whom are new to us, and it is vital that – in the spirit of democracy and pluralism – we get to know all of them and what they stand for.
Secondly, politics is exciting. The Scottish Referendum proved this. And it also proved another point – young people are hungry to be involved in political debate, despite everything we are told to the contrary. The claim that young people are not interested in politics has become a damaging self-fulfilling prophecy. County Upper School held a mock general election this term and 417 people voted; the whole school was talking about politics and students were curious and engaged.
The Bury Youth Forum is a fantastic example that also demonstrates my point. Toby Jeffery chaired an exciting and heated hustings last week, which thankfully was covered in the Bury Free Press. Toby Jeffery is also our Member of the Youth Parliament for Bury and is working really hard to engage young people like himself in politics. The hustings introduced the candidates to an audience of a broad age-range and who were all engaged and passionate in their questioning.
Fundamentally, politics matters, and therefore this General Election matters. All elections matter, but perhaps this one more than previous ones will indicate a shift in our attitudes and a sign of our collective uncertainty about where we are going as a nation. Bury feels that too – and which ever way the vote goes here, we are going to have a new person as our MP. It is vital we make this decision carefully! Whatever the outcome, people need to be engaged and talking about it – and they are.
Hopefully, the Bury Free Press will be at the forefront of the local debate for the next few weeks and make sure that politics – and people – are represented positively.
-- Eleanor Rehahn, via email
HELPING TO BEAT BOWEL CANCER
We’ve all been affected by bowel cancer in some way and know the devastating effect it can have on individuals and their families. That’s why we’re supporting Beating Bowel Cancer’s Lift the Lid campaign this month.
April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and the Lift the Lid campaign is encouraging everybody to get over the embarrassment surrounding the disease by simply talking about it. Whether you tell someone about your own experience; inspire someone to learn about the symptoms or encourage someone who is worried to talk to their doctor; that conversation could be lifesaving.
So we’ll be supporting Beating Bowel Cancer throughout April and we hope you will too.
For more information about bowel cancer and the Lift the Lid campaign, visit the charity’s website at www.beatingbowel cancer.org.
-- Matt Dawson MBE, Former rugby player and TV presenter; Freya North, Author; Kevin Sheedy, Former footballer and Everton Academy coach; Matthew Wright, TV presenter
FOCUS SHOULD BE ON PREVENTION
Jo Churchill and Peter Coley’s letters (Bury Free Press, March 27) rightly praised the fantastic work of the doctors, nurses and staff of West Suffolk Hospital and the NHS in general, but I feel that Jo Churchill, in particular, raised issues which highlight the fact that continually pumping billions of pounds into the NHS, is by its very nature, totally unsustainable (£12.6 billion in the past five years and another £2 billion per annum going forward).
As a child my late mother used to say to me ‘An apple a day, keeps the doctor away’. It’s something I have drummed into my children from an early age. In my clinic, I see people on a daily basis in considerable pain, suffering from a variety of ailments. During detailed consultations, I inevitably find that people are turning up having been through the usual routine of seeing their GP, given tablets, returning to GP after this did not work, attending hospital, seeing a specialist, going to physio etc., then in desperation turning to alternative treatments like nutritional therapy, acupuncture or massage when all else has failed. This procedure on its own will have cost the NHS thousands per patient. In many, many circumstances, the problems are caused by lifestyle choices, ie poor diet, little or no exercise, stress etc. Until we as a nation start to address the cause of illnesses, rather than treat the symptoms, then the only answer is more doctors, more nurses and more billions pumped into a service which is already at bursting point. The Government should be focusing its attentions on educating people to prevent illness rather than just on curing illness. It will take many years to change the habits of a lifetime, but we have to start somewhere.
-- Paul Hopfensperger, Body and Mind Studio, Risbygate Street, Bury St Edmunds
TRAFFIC STILL QUEUING ON A11
Traffic still queued back to Red Lodge from Fiveways roundabout in Barton Mills. And the A1065 also backed right up. Where are the MPs and road boffins now? What a waste of money, absolutely shocking.
-- Adrian Rogers, via email