A selection of readers’ letters from the Bury Free Press of Friday, April 8
WE NEED TO REMAIN IN EU
Since 1985 I have had business interests in France and Spain. During that time I have seen, first hand, how Europe has grown and developed.
I have witnessed the growing together of international peoples who have learned from one another. We British have much to offer the rest of Europe. Our outstanding advantage is our language which is spoken widely on the continent –English being the preferred second language in many European countries. We are in a unique position to benefit from our language in Europe.
We are a gateway to Europe for financial services and many other very important sectors. Geographically we are in Europe so we must continue to pursue our rightful place amongst the great nations of the European continent. American and Chinese leaders are keen for us to stay in the European Union because they see their goods entering the European market via Britain.
The world is politically more stable if countries work together and do not split away from one another. We need to co-operate and understand one another not seek to find fault and promote disintegration which could lead to the beginning of the end for Europe. We need to pool our sovereignty and work closer together to formulate plans for the future of the continent, thus ensuring more economic and social progress.
If we leave the European Union it is likely that it will take years to renegotiate treaties and agreements with countries to which we have turned our backs. Hardly likely to produce better terms than we currently enjoy!
In practical terms we have just secured mobile phone tariff reductions across Europe. I cannot see these large companies jumping to give Great Britain terms that have taken years to win within Europe. Students can move freely between universities at present across the continent, choosing courses to match their needs with an eye on charges. Again, unlikely to continue in the future.
Air travel and continental holidays will become dearer. Free movement will become a thing of the past unless negotiated and paid for within rules laid down some time ago.
The motor industry is both a major employer and a major exporter to Europe. Tariffs on British built goods, including cars, are likely. Some three million people rely on work directly or indirectly linked to Europe – what a tragedy to put those livelihoods at risk by leaving the European Union
Since the declaration of the referendum, the value of the pound has sunk from 1.35 to 1.25 Euros to the pound – approximately 8%. Markets, both financial and equity loathe uncertainty. With the referendum result so close to call the markets reactions are awful – and predictable.
If Mr Cameron had not had his anti- European members demanding the current referendum he would not have brought it about.
For the good of the future of our country and our continent, we need to remain in Europe and a major player in Europe.
-- Peter Harpley, Bury St Edmunds
IT IS TIME FOR A NEW AGENDA
I applaud Cllr Beckwith for raising the issue of Devolution for East Anglia (Letters, April 1), though I do not share his views.
He and many of your readers will be aware of Suffolk’s attempts to remodel the structure of our local government and the hours and resources expended in vain attempting to create a unified authority. They will also be aware of the attempts of our district councils to unite and combine resources in a restricted economic climate. These moves suggest to me that the current structure of local government is not working and it is time for fresh thinking.
Under the late Scots-led Labour Government there was something called the East of England Regional Assembly, unelected, undemocratic, holding sway over an area whose boundaries lack any historic or geographic integrity but whose targets, for the supply and density of housing, still dominate the present agenda for our district councils. The same government lavished money on its own pocket fiefdoms within East Anglia whilst much-needed improvements in the wider area were left wanting. Happily the late coalition and present government have taken steps to reverse years of neglect but the agenda is still set elsewhere.
In terms of transport, our A-roads and rail network do not begin or end at the borders of Suffolk and need to be planned improved and maintained on a regional basis. The focus of the planned or intended improvements in rail is on faster journeys for commuters to and from London though the focus should be on improving the links between our major towns and cities. The only plan for the re-use of Mildenhall after the departure of the American Air Force appears to be rip up and demolish a serviceable airport to help meet national housing targets when in a regional context it would make better sense to move the airports at Cambridge and Norwich to Mildenhall and use the airport sites in those cities for much needed local housing.
Suffolk’s current housing policies are turning our small towns into dormitories for the metropolis with prices suited to the fatten London purse not for our own young people. They do not address the need of each community within the region to maintain a social balance. The lack of adopted plans has created uncertainty for developers, landowners and residents alike, leaving us open to unwelcome development and endless challenges to planning decisions.
Whilst our university sector remains strong, training for the skills we need is lacking and our needs have only been fulfilled through immigration from elsewhere.
It is time for a new agenda, left to local authorities and democratic consent our region will languish. East Anglia is not, as some condescending London journalist might describe, ‘a back water’ but a vibrant, dynamic and industrious region now let us seize the opportunity to give in a voice.
-- Anthony M Breen, Needham Market
THERE NEEDS TO BE CONSULTATION
I share Cllr Trevor Beckwith’s concern over the issue of East Anglian devolution. I too, recall the last time that regional government was proposed, along with elected mayors. This is definitely a case of ‘EU project’ de-j a-vu.
The goal of the EU was to break the UK into various regions; this plan was published many years ago by the EU showing the UK divided into regions under the control of a mayor reporting direct to Brussels similar to the Cantons in Germany.
Many may recall John Prescott tried to introduce this regionalisation project with the North Eastern Assembly proposal, but at least the people were given a referendum to vote on it and as a result it was rejected. I hope this idea for East Anglia goes the same way.
Henry Bellingham also has spoken out against the idea on the grounds of the cost of setting up another tier of local government. I wonder if he, and readers, realise the sinister overtones of this proposal.
Like many at the time, I opposed the EU-inspired project back then and will continue to oppose undemocratic impositions, that is why I have signed the petition on the government website entitled ‘Withdraw proposals for devolved East Anglia, ie Cambs, Norfolk and Suffolk.
The text reads: “It is fundamentally undemocratic to change the nature of our local democracy without full consultation with the people who will be affected by the proposals. The proposals should be temporarily withdrawn until such time as due consultation and a referendum have been held.”
If readers feel the same way and would like to sign this (or other) petitions, do a Google search for ‘Government Petitions’; scroll and look for ‘Petitions - UK Government & Parliament’; On the website, click ‘View all open petitions’; type in the window/box ‘East Anglia’; and sign.
-- Ian Smith, Bury St Edmunds
OPINIONS ARE JUST IGNORED
Is it surprising that there has been a pathetically small response to the ‘village’ blueprint consultation over the shape of Bury St Edmunds for future years?
I am not in the least bit surprised that there has been such disdain. After more than a decade of different consultations on planning it is clear the views and opinions of the public are flagrantly disregarded.
All too often the impression has been given that these so-called consultations are in fact exercises in going through the motions and concerned with manipulating the public into accepting decisions that have already been pre-determined.
Just to cite a recent example, the attempted consultation on the Waste Hub plan was exposed very quickly as wholly flawed and has had to be repeated all over again.
The enquiry 2013-2014 into housing expansion around Bury St Edmunds was another classic example, with a clear two-thirds of participants against proposals. A key vote on the land north-west of Bury was taken on January 2, 2014 – three weeks before a public inquiry on the same site was due to open.
Councillors on the development control committee rarely engage in any discussion of applications and a whole block remains mute at every meeting but nonetheless vote typically against what the majority of consultees have actually said. I have even heard it stated by one councillor that decisions are taken in advance of the meeting with the bulk of councillors being directed what line to take. I can well believe it.
When it comes to our local schools, the position is even more grotesque. Regarding the vote to switch from three tier systems with middle schools to a two tier system, there was an overwhelming majority of parents against this, 82% and 92% respectively being opposed to the Howard Middle School closure. Nonetheless democracy did not prevail with implications that are going to have adverse effects on education for thousands of children over the next decade. Confusion reigns regarding the school situation for children on the Howard and Mildenhall estates. Attending the New Howard Primary School will mean that the Mildenhall and Howard Estate children will then need to be bussed nearly five miles to the new upper school on the Moreton Hall estate, a school that could not have been built solely for the number of children on Moreton Hall.
Come September 2016 the situation in Bury is going to be an education and traffic nightmare. All this has been the work of a small clique of councillors and unelected officials who clearly have their own agenda both locally and regionally.
These depressing experiences with consultations means that both councillors and planners lack credibility with the public now. Clearly local politics will have to move in other directions, including actions through the High Court and other steps, if the people are ignored.
-- Billy Wappett, Bury St Edmunds