A selection of readers’ letters from the Bury Free Press of Friday, April 29.
HUNT IS DEDICATED TO PRIVATISATION
RE the junior doctors’ dispute. I feel that it is contrary to the etiquette and justice of industrial disputes for the Secretary of State to insist that he will impose the new ‘contract’, whether the BMA enters into ‘negotiations’ or not.
How can someone who will not move on his threat of inevitable imposition criticise the junior doctors for refusing to ‘negotiate’ when the outcome is set in ideological concrete?
Mr Hunt is dedicated to privatising the NHS, as outlined in the book he co-authored prior to finding himself in his current post.
It’s more than a disgrace, it’s a tragedy for the majority in our country who rely on the NHS as a public service with what’s left of the founding principles which pertained when Labour introduced it in 1947.
-- Eddie Dougall, Walsham le Willows
HOSPITALS ARE OPEN SEVEN DAYS
In the last five years the NHS has saved my life three time and as far as I know hospitals are open seven days a week so there must be other reasons that this government wishes to prolong this dispute.
-- Alan Turner, Bury St Edmunds
MONEY SHOULD BE SPENT ON PARKING
I attended last week’s meeting of the St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee. As the name implies, this committee is charged with the oversight of the work of the council and with ‘holding inquiries into matters of local concern’.
One matter which has long concerned residents of Moreton Hall, and which was on the agenda, has been the impact on traffic flows of parking on Skyliner Way. Responding to local concerns, the council determined that a layby would greatly assist with these problems. In July 2015 Suffolk County Council, as the Highways authority, confirmed that this was feasible and that the layby wold cost £25,000. The Borough duly applied for funding for this from the county council’s Off Street Parking Account (OSPA). This account is a requirement of the Traffic Regulation Act 1984 and holds excess funds from the provision of parking throughout the county. The legislation states that this fund should be applied first to the provision and improvement of off street parking – such as laybys. Only ‘if it appears to the local authority that the provision in their area of further off-street parking accommodation is unnecessary or undesirable’ (s55(4)(d) of the Act) should the fund be spent on other highways or public transport improvements.
In January 2016, the borough wasinformed verbally that its bid for funding had been unsuccessful and that if the borough cared to fund the building of the layby itself it would now cost £35,000. The committee was informed that this was because of the rise in construction costs. Such is the need for this layby, that the committee determined that the borough should press on and fund the layby while requesting Suffolk County Council to at least contribute to its cost.
You might have assumed, as I initially did, that the borough’s bid for funding from OSPA was turned down because it had all been spent on off street parking elsewhere in the county. t turns out that this is very far from the truth. The figures reveal that of total funds of £960,000, just £90,000 was spent directly on car park improvements, less than 10 per cent. The rest of the money was spent on an assortment of highway improvements (£615,000) and other transport-related issues. Shockingly, only £135,000 in total was spent in West Suffolk while £150,000 was spent on highway improvements in two wards alone, both in the Stour Valley Division whose councillor is James Finch, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport.
I am sure that all this money has been spent on much-needed and worthy projects. However, at a time when the borough has had cuts to its funding of 47 per cent since 2010, when residents face ever more cuts to their services as well as a Council Tax rise, it is outrageous that funds which are actually earmarked by the legislation for off street parking should have been denied to us by the Highways Authority.
-- Julia Wakelam, Member for Risbygate Ward, St Edmundsbury Borough Council
RETROGRADE STEP FOR ENVIRONMENT
The issue of payment for the revised brown bin collection will, doubtless, bubble under for a while yet. I am, however, less concerned with the increased cost (the blame for which I lay squarely at the feet of the Chancellor, George Osborne and his policy of austerity for some) than with the environmental impact of the this change.
In the past, I was pleased to send very little waste to landfill sites, now that cannot be said. I live in a flat and have no garden, and so no garden waste. My organic kitchen waste is no longer collected as part of the revised brown bin service and, unless I choose to creep around at dead of night and slip my disguised potato peelings into a neighbour’s brown bin (and I do not so choose), I must send all my kitchen waste to landfill. This, to me, is a retrograde step for the environment.
-- Martin Webb, Bury St Edmunds
THERE SHOULD BE A PENALTY
I was very interested to read Paula Harber’s letter (Bury Free Press, April 22) about the destruction of trees in The Vinefields. Like her, I had been concerned to see beautiful mature trees taken down, but I didn’t realise they were being cut down by people who had no right to do it.
As I understand it from speaking to some of the workmen (who were removing all the branches from an ornamental cherry tree), some of these trees have been pollarded or cut down because residents complained that they obstructed light to their properties, not because there was anything wrong with them.
How can that be allowed? Well obviously it isn’t, and it has been done without permission. There is no way these trees can be restored to their majestic grandeur but surely there should be some penalty for Havebury Housing if they are the culprits.
-- Gayle Wade, Bury St Edmunds
CONCERNS OVER CLOSURE
You will have seen that it has been decided to close the GP surgery in Hopton. It is important to understand that this surgery has for many years provided healthcare and a dispensary service not just for Hopton but patients from a number of neighbouring villages such as Market Weston, Coney Weston, Blo Norton and Garboldisham. This is therefore hugely disappointing news for patients in a number of communities in both Suffolk and Norfolk.
Despite this decision we have not yet given up and will continue to challenge and question the legitimacy of this outcome through the appropriate NHS channels.
We have significant concerns regarding the decision making process given that what was announced as a temporary suspension of GP services in December has now resulted in the complete closure of the Hopton Surgery with no formal engagement or consultation with patients by the NHS. We are also unclear on the funding criterion now being applied to what we believe is an existing and long-standing contract to provide GP and other services in Hopton.
Whilst, of course, we would be keen to retain our current surgery, we are also seeking to ascertain whether there may be interest from any neighbouring practices to establish some form of provision in Hopton. In this we are entirely flexible and understand that a more viable option might be to establish a supporting clinic, service or dispensary in Hopton in order to ease pressure on a main practice hub elsewhere.
Finally, we are also looking at the feasibility of a community funded new-build surgery that could then be rented to a partner surgery.
We do not underestimate the difficulties we face but we have had tremendous support from County Councillor Joanna Spicer, Borough Councillor Carol Bull, our neighbouring borough and parish councils and Healthwatch Suffolk. Having valued the healthcare that has been provided in Hopton for, we believe, over 100 years we are not prepared to let it be taken away from us quite so easily.
-- Hopton cum Knettishall Parish Council
CONSIDER ST BENEDICT’S
I understand the frustration that Ernie Broom and those he represents on the Howard and Mildenhall estates have in wanting to go to County Upper (Letters, April 22), but there is an alternative.
Next door to County Upper is St Benedict’s Catholic School which aims to maximise the number of baptised Catholics it educates from all over West Suffolk but welcomes applications from other students who are attracted to the inclusive and caring ethos, the high academic standards and results and real sense of community the school provides.
Already a third of our students are not baptised Catholics and this likely to continue. So as we move to two-tier with our lower school on the current St Louis site, please give some thought to choosing St Benedict’s.
-- David Dawson, Chair of governors, St Benedict’s Catholic School, Bury St Edmunds
SO MANY ENJOYED THIS GREAT EVENT
The 25th East Anglian Beer and Cider Festival at The Apex last week was one of the best in recent years. I was lucky enough to help out as a volunteer, and thoroughly enjoyed the warm and friendly atmosphere, with no cross words, just laughter and conversation and lots of thanks from departing attendees. And many people donated extra bits of cash for the two local charities, Suffolk West Citizens Advice and Riding for the Disabled, who will benefit from a share of the profits once the sums are done.
It was a pleasure to see so many people of varied ages, many women and lots of young people, enjoying the wonderful range of beers and ciders. Close to 4,000 attended over the four days. This included some hundreds of Americans, women as well as men. One of these servicemen told me he was already dreading going back to the States in three years time as he would miss our beers so much!
I would like to thank The Apex, who provide an excellent accessible space. We know that it is a magnificent music venue with its wonderful acoustics, but this festival attracted a much wider demographic which helps reinforce the value of the venue to the town.
Thanks above all to the dozens of volunteers who staffed the bars and desks, set up and took down all the stands and barrels, and cared for the beer. Some of them put in the equivalent of two working weeks, including many unsocial hours, but they were rewarded by the success of the occasion. Finally, a special thank you to the principle organiser, Chrisy Roden; all those who attended owe her a debt of thanks. Cheers Chrisy!
-- Vincent McDonald, Suffolk West CAB trustee and Camra member
GET ROUGHAM HILL UP AND RUNNING
The wall of secrecy round the location site for the waste hub is crumbling.
Preliminary assessment by council of the high number of public responses received following their detailed consultation, confirms major support for Rougham Hill.
With long-running issues of this type, so often it is what you forget to remember which is so important. Rougham Hill is just 250 yards by twin-lane dual-carriageway from the A14, passing no homes en route. Capital, running and environmental costs for Rougham Hill are by far the lowest of any site, giving the ‘best deal’ for council tax payers with superior public safety.
The fear has been that council officers and councillors had their heads turned by developers for the Rushbrook Lane area indicating they might walk away if Rougham Hill were chosen. Developers are renowned for bluffing.
Bizarrely it is central Government swingeing cuts to local authorities which has dealt council a ‘get out of jail card’, justifying ‘throwing in the towel’ for all the other possible sites.
Last month it was cuts to the fire service and rural buses. Previously it has been cuts for pre-school education, police, care homes, highway maintenance… the list goes on. Which front line services would you cut to fund the other astronomically expensive sites being considered?
Let’s get Rougham Hill up and running. At present, at enormous expense to tax payers, black bin waste goes to Red Lodge; only to be brought back again to the Great Blakenham incinerator – how daft is that?
-- Simon Harding, Bury St Edmunds
DON’T ALIENATE YOUR SUPPORTERS
May I, through your pages, try to dissuade our Crown Post Office staff from striking? What is the point in inconveniencing and alienating their many supporters?
The proposed move into WHSmiths should be opposed on both ideological and practical grounds.
Many of the Crown Post Offices are housed in valuable iconic buildings, the sale of which could raise substantial sums, funds which are unlikely to go to any post office worker made redundant.
Although the public’s use of postal services is indeed falling, the population of this area within the next decade is likely to increase substantially. How will WHSmiths cope with the hundreds of Bury residents who daily use the PO passing through their shop? I have never been in the Post Office and been able to go straight to the counter.
Finally, please remember the public meeting about the issues on May 13 at 6pm in the Oddfellows Hall in Whiting Street.
-- Margaret Wilkin, Bury St Edmunds