A selection of readers’ letters from the Bury Free Press of Friday, December 2.
PARKING PROBLEM WILL GET WORSE
Yet again, local residents are affected by West Suffolk College student parking.
Only today I was due a delivery and made arrangements for a cone to be placed in the road but, as on previous occasions, an inconsiderate driver moved the cone to park.
David Nettleton has made every effort to get some form of restriction to allow a voucher scheme to operate for some local residents but to no avail.
The council is pushing ahead with the proposed restrictions to stop double parking from West Road and Blenhelm Close with which I am in full agreement, but this will push the vehicles into other roads and, in particular, make things worse than it is for residents who live between West Road and Newmarket Road.
-- John Hansford, Westley Road, Bury St Edmunds
DEVOLVE PARKING CONTROLS TO THE BOROUGH
Parking, or lack of it, is a common topic in our town and on the estates.
There have been lots of complaints but a lack of ideas to control and manage this ever- growing problem.
One solution is that all parking control could be devolved to St Edmundsbury Borough Council, thus freeing up police to do the serious stuff – but not until April 2018.
PCSOs are coming, the town council has one ready to start in 2017, the other one is delayed by lack of numbers applying.
We all saw photos of the Mini which was parked in the wrong permit area getting eight tickets; cars have bencsen left parked on double yellow near to the arc for 18 days and one has now been there for 12 days and counting, blocking many blue badge holders from parking but without a single ticket.
St John’s Street suffers from pavement parkers, as do so many of the smaller ‘grid roads’.
Pavements are being damaged by trucks having to pass poorly parked cars and even on our estates, buses get jammed up by unthinking car drivers parking too close to bollards
Buses get blocked by parked cars at the train station; St Andrew’s Street has constant flow of cars ignoring parking restrictions and even access signs.
Once we have more wardens, an expensive ticket may make folks think twice, though better signage for our car parks would help, with perhaps real time information being available.
Cars are not going away, mobility scooters and cyclists need access, pedestrians need protection from having to step into the road because of poor inconsiderate parking, cyclists on the pavement not on the cycle path – let’s try to be considerate before we all get tickets.
Cars, trains, buses, cyclists, trucks, vans, even mobility scooters, are the lifeblood of Bury St Edmunds, but we are getting close to having badly clogged arteries.
-- Tom Murray, Bury St Edmunds Town councillor
PARENTS DESERVE SOME ANSWERS
I write with regard to the headline news about the sudden resignation of the head teacher at Howard Primary School.
This came as a shock to our local community on the Howard Estate, especially as the only information any one has been given from the local authority is that it is for personal reasons. I suppose this is as far as they can go but now we learn that the whole of the governing body has resigned at the same time. People are rightly asking the reason why all these governors have resigned, but nobody will say a word, not a single word –this seems incredible.
I have had lots of people, including many parents of children at the school, asking me if I can tell them what is going on as they can’t get any answers. Surely, the residents of the estate have a right to know what is going on at our school and especially the parents? They have already had to put up with their wishes being ignored time and again when our middle school was closed and now what is obviously some kind of serious issue at the school are being ignored yet again.
A number of residents, including young parents, have asked me why the primary school can’t just join the All-Through Trust which is what they have wanted for ages. It does seem to me to be an ideal opportunity for the local authority to listen for once to what residents and the parents want.
A few years ago we all voted for the plan which had education from nursery up to the end of Year 8 at Howard, after which our children moved to County Upper. This is still the popular choice.
On behalf of all those who have spoken to me. I urge the powers that be to make this most sensible move.
-- Ernie Broom
Chairman, Howard Estate Association of Residents and Tenants (Heart)
FUR PRODUCTS ON SALE AT FAYRE
While the Bury Christmas Fayre is now something of a tradition now and, many would agree, an asset to the town, I have noticed in recent years that several stalls are selling items which contain real fur. These are usually small pieces such as pom-poms or trims on hats or scarves.
Walking around The Apex and Angel Hill, I was dismayed to see these on display. When I asked the stallholders if they had any concerns about the conditions that animals, such as rabbit, fox and raccoons are kept in to supply this material, they looked me straight in the eye and told me they had none.
Others said that they felt it was justified because many stalls did the same and ‘they sold lots of them’.
While fur farming in the Far East is bad enough in view of the inhumane conditions in which animals are kept and slaughtered, other animals worldwide are trapped and suffer terribly from their devastating injuries.
I wonder if the public share these views or whether they are unsuspecting that they are actually buying rear fur?
A few weeks before Christmas, as I wandered around the fayre, I felt utterly dejected that humanity had reached the ‘season of goodwill’ which seems to be ever rolling on the road to materialism and selfishness without a thought for the welfare of the animals who inhabit our planet but are being relentlessly persecuted and tortured for a cheap piece of clothing that is not necessary.
Can I urge your readers to buy accessories that only contain no fur or faux fur. To buy products with real fur is to support an industry which is based on animal cruelty and suffering and has no place in the modern world.
-- Moira Walshe, Lidagte
THE HIGH COST OF AUSTERITY
So now it is official. After six failed years of Conservative austerity, the very social and economic fabric of this country lie in tatters.
Philip Hammond’s Autumn Statement laid bare the truth behind the rhetoric of their supposedly long-term economic plan.
The one thing you have to hand to them is that it is long term! According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, British workers face the longest squeeze on their wages in over 70 years and that by 2021, real wages in the UK – pay adjusted for inflation – will still not have recovered to their 2008 level before the global financial crisis hit. That will mean workers facing a decade without real earnings growth, and once again this will have the greatest impact on the most needy and vulnerable within our society.
As recently as last week Theresa May once again claimed that it was the Conservatives’ strong stewardship of the economy that was critical in ensuring that the NHS received the funding it required to meet the ever-increasing needs of the 21st century. It was therefore quite bizarre to hear former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley criticising the Autumn Statement for its lack of extra funding for the NHS and social care. This from a man who presided over the disastrous 2012 Health and Social Care Act that brought about a disastrous top down reorganisation that experts have estimated cost about £3 billion and turned out to be’unintelligible gobbledygook’, and had no support from health care professionals.
Andrew Lansley is not the only Conservative to come out and publicly challenge the Government over its dishonest claims.
Theresa May continually claims that the Government is putting £10 billion extra into the NHS, however Conservative MP Dr Sarah Wollaston, the chair of the commons health select committe,e has written to Philip Hammond demanding the Government abandons its ‘incorrect’ claims and admit the severity of the financial shortage facing the NHS.
Locally, we continue to see the impact of the Conservative cuts as Suffolk Age UK announces the closure of the Link and Oasis day clubs which offer services for older people suffering from dementia – another service loss for those in most need.
Papers released by the Government last week under the 30-year rule reveal that back in 1982 Margaret Thatcher tried to press ahead with a plan to dismantle the Welfare State that would have seen charges for state schooling, the introduction of compulsory private health insurance and a system of private medical facilities that would of course have meant the end of the NHS.
Thirty four years later the Conservatives are still trying to dismantle the Welfare State. in hope people in this country wake up and challenge them before it is too late!
-- Richard Soer, Great Barton
WE’RE NOW STUCK WITH CONTRACT
With regard to the appalling way in which Suffolk’s roads are being managed, we would like to explain what has happened with the contract to run them.
On October 18, the county’s Conservative Cabinet took the decision to renew the Kier highways contract two years early.
On the evening of the 18th, the Labour Group moved to ‘call-in’ the Cabinet decision.
This process, if accepted by the council, would have temporarily halted the renewal of the highways contract until the next meeting of Scrutiny Committee, which would then have the opportunity to consider all the arguments and decide whether to uphold the ‘call in’ and send the decision back to Cabinet. Even if, as they have done before, the Cabinet simply ignored them, we felt it was important to ensure the concerns of Suffolk residents were properly considered.
Even this attempt at democratic debate was turned down by Suffolk County Council, and the county is now tied to Kier for seven more years.
The county council has regularly and justifiably come under fire since Kier was awarded the original five-year contract for the maintenance of Suffolk’s highways in 2013, with at least half of its performance targets consistently missed and complaints from the public up by 51 per cent from last year alone.
The Cabinet’s renewal of the contract was made on the promise that the new ‘Highways Transformation Programme’ will guarantee higher standards from Kier. However, the majority of the proposed changes will not be in place until April next year.
This decision is based on a vague belief that something that is not yet in place will miraculously turn around a service that is effectively failing.
There is no solid evidence that the ‘transformation programme’ already has or ever will deliver the vast improvement needed.
When challenged, the Portfolio holder for Transport, James Finch, even claimed that this decision could be made with only 50 per cent of the necessary information.
Call us fussy, but we believe that when you are dealing with a contract worth over £200 million of public money, you should make a decision only when all the evidence has been collected, analysed and considered.
Why then has the Cabinet taken this enormous decision on such a loose premise and without all the evidence?
Renewing the Kier contract now was neither a contractual requirement nor a reflection of what Suffolk residents actually want, but a deliberate attempt on behalf of the Conservative-led county council to prevent all elected councillors between now and 2023 having any say in how our highways are run.
The council has now introduced a new Operational Plan. This waters down the council’s highway standards, making it easier for Kier to get away with working to lower standards on many of our roads, rather than ensuring all Suffolk residents get a well-maintained road network.
No doubt, in February we will find out how much more funding the council intends to cut from the highways budget – we will resist that.
Labour county councillors have called this decision unsafe, untested and seriously premature. Suffolk County Council has not listened to, or considered the views of Suffolk residents. We are bitterly disappointed that the Conservative-run county council has rejected our scrutiny call-in and has tied us in to this unpopular contract without further debate or full consideration of all the facts. That is simply undemocratic.
-- Labour Group, Suffolk County Council