A selection of readers’ letters from the Bury Free Press of Friday, February 5.
PUB HAD GREAT COLLECTION
Having read the devastating news that the Flying Fortress pub has not only been purchased but is closed, I was wondering what has happened to the fascinating memorabilia and exhibits therein?
Much of what was on display in the bar and restaurant had been donated over a period of years by Armed Forces personnel from the USA as well as by ‘Brits’ who were stationed at the airfield, of which the Flying Fortress was originally the Officers’ Mess.
Several times in the past I have enjoyed both the atmosphere and the food at what was a most excellent establishment and I was planning to re-visit in the near future with friends. I was always of the impression that the business was very successful – booking a table at weekends was essential.
-- M J Rees, Maldon, Essex
GATEHOUSE COULD STILL HAVE ITEMS
I read Cllr Hicks’ letter (Bury Free Press, January 29) regarding the changes to recycling and the effect on Gatehouse with interest.
He has written to me in a similar vein. He claims that the estimated amount of items collected is expected to double by opening the new shop. I can see no logic behind this argument. How will opening a shop in Ipswich double the amount collected at Suffolk’s household waste recycling centres? Are people going to be throwing more items away as a result? At any rate this is an expectation and we all know that they are not necessarily fulfilled! Gatehouse already empties the container at Bury HWRC of everything re-usable every week.
Secondly, Cllr Hicks and I agree that everyone who wants to recycle household items should take them directly to Gatehouse or another charity if they can. However, Gatehouse does not have the staff to open at week-ends, which is when most working people find it convenient to get rid of household items they no longer want. That is why it is so important for Gatehouse to have access to items from Bury HWRC.
Thirdly, Cllr Hicks says that the charity sector will profit from the money made by selling the items from the shop in Ipswich. Gatehouse in Bury does not sell the items, as the people it serves are struggling to make ends meet. It gives items to disadvantaged families, expecting only a small donation if possible. Now these same people are going to be expected to trek all the way to Ipswich to buy secondhand items and transport them back to Bury. I don’t think Cllr Hicks has much idea of what it is like trying to get by on low wages and/or benefit payments.
Fourthly, Cllr Hicks claims that there will be environmental benefits of his policy, but what will be the environmental costs of moving all the recycled items to Ipswich and then people from Bury travelling to Ipswich to buy them and then bringing them back to Bury?
Cllr Hicks has replied to two of my emails in detail and very quickly. In my third email to him I suggested that his policy has had unfortunate and, I hope, unintended consequences which will hit the poorest in our area. I have suggested to him that he acts as an honest broker between FCC, the Benjamin Foundation and Gatehouse, to ensure that Gatehouse can continue to take items from the Bury HWRC and anything they do not want can then go to Ipswich. This would seem a fair and easily negotiable deal that he could make to offset the problems that his policy will cause Gatehouse and disadvantaged people in Bury. Six days later, I have yet to hear from Cllr Hicks.
I hope our Bury councillors will want to raise their voices in support of the disadvantaged people of Bury who rely on Gatehouse and are now even more disadvantaged as a result of this policy.
It is a simple matter for Cllr Hicks to deal with and I hope that he will want to act in the interests of the poorest in Bury St Edmunds as quickly as possible.
-- Richard Stainer, Bradfield St George
LETTER DID NOT ADDRESS CONCERNS
I am glad that Cllr Hicks appreciates the very real concerns of many for the harm that will result from SCC’s decision to stop Gatehouse collecting and reusing items from the HWRC (Letters, January 29). Sadly he failed to address these concerns in any meaningful way.
Let us consider SCC’s motivation for this decision. Cllr Hicks tells us it is to double the number of items that are reused. I would be surprised if there are actually 8-10 tonnes of reusable items awaiting collection from Rougham Hill every week – which is what there will have to be to double what we collect.
He claims this means ‘those in need of these items will have even more made available’. Well, maybe, if those in need live near Foxhall.
He suggests we contact the Benjamin Foundation. This is exactly what we did do, as SCC are aware, when we were informed of this decision by letter in the second week of December (a time when, in addition to providing our usual services, our fantastic staff and volunteers were packing and distributing over 400 Christmas hampers and organising a Christmas Day lunch attended by 125 people).On making contact, Amanda Bloomfield, our CEO, was informed by The Benjamin Foundation that they couldn’t possibly discuss anything with us until they had operated the scheme for a while and they might be able to discuss it in March. We are to cease collection by February 14.
I have written to the general manager with responsibility for this contract at FCC but have yet to receive a reply.
Cllr Hicks claims that this will deliver ‘better outcomes, not least for the charitable sector itself’. But only if you are a charity from another county. Several Suffolk charities and their clients will most certainly not see ‘better outcomes’.
Finally, I note that Cllr Hicks does not address the environmental impact of this decision. No doubt because there is no way to justify it on those grounds; the very opposite. Household items will now trundle up the A14, adding to congestion, adding to air pollution, worsening climate change. Suffolk used to aspire to being the Greenest County – a lost dream apparently.
Richard Stainer makes a very sensible suggestion which has the merit of satisfying all. If, as apparently SCC believe, there are 8 to 10 tonnes a week of reusable items, why not let us take the first 4-5 tonnes, as we currently do, leaving the remainder to go to Foxhall. I urge SCC to facilitate this, and all of you to lobby your county councillors to ensure it does.
-- Julia Wakelam, Chair Gatehouse – caring in East Anglia
WE MUST ASSESS FLOOD RISKS
Councillors, especially on our Development Control Committee, are going to have some very testing and difficult decisions to take when assessing the flood risks created by building on or close to the floodplains of the rivers Linnet and especially the Lark.
There seems little doubt that climate change is causing more frequent violent weather patterns, usually manifesting itself for us as heavy rainfall.
Suffolk has one of the lowest rainfalls in the country; we have rested on our laurels for too long, thinking flood defences are unnecessary, happily building on the floodplains of these two rivers running through our town. Covering more and more soft permeable areas with asphalt, concrete, paviors, etc, creating the risk of flash flooding, must stop.
‘Sustainable drainage’ is the phrase loved by developers: of course they make sure the homes they build are safe from flooding. The issue is what dangers of flooding are they creating for existing homes, businesses and the countryside downstream?
Let’s go back to basics: water runs downhill, has to go somewhere and always wins. We urgently need a comprehensive drainage/hydrological survey to assess the risks posed by the Lark and Linnet before further nibbling away at the floodplains of these two rivers.
Surely at the very least we must put on hold the major Rushbrook Lane and Tayfen Road developments – both areas have flooded before. Councillors must publicly state they are satisfied they are not simply stocking up problems for the future for others to deal with.
-- Simon Harding, Bury St Edmunds
SPEND PARKING CASH IN BURY
I was very surprised to find out that Suffolk County Council makes over half a million pounds annually from parking in Bury St Edmunds anda very small portion of this money comes back to our borough council.
To me that seems totally mad.Parking in Bury St Edmunds, with all its revenue, should be under the auspecies of St Edmundsbury Borough Council.
It is especially galling, as I have been campaigning for street, pavement and pedestrian ways to be repaired – they are in a shocking and dangerous state.
Yet, after a recent inspection, by Suffolk County Council, all we are getting are some repairs outside the post office and some half-hearted black-top thrown in ever-growing holes in our roads.
With over half a million pounds going to Suffolk County Council, they could and should repair all our streets, even those on our estates, and including the ever-growing potholes outside the Abbey and on St Andrew’s Street.
What makes it much worse is the electronic parking signs, have not been working since before the festive holiday period, they are still not working – why?
-- Tom Murray, Bury St Edmunds
Note – Tom Murray followed up his letter with an update saying: “Today I received a tweet from Suffolk County Council and they blame St Edmundsbury for no data, so keeping electronic signs blank.
THE CASE FOR LEAVING EU
So, pro-EU propaganda has started to roll out in our area. I have read the scaremongering newspaper from the Britain Stronger in Europe group and here is a response to their claims.
Claim: The benefits of EU membership are worth £3,000 per year to the average household.
The Vote Leave campaign say: This claim relies on an estimate by the pro-EU CBI in 2013. At the time, Channel 4’s Fact Check said: “This very precise number is not based on any real evidence.” In any case, any benefits are outweighed by the huge £4.5 billion membership fee.
Claim: If we left the EU, the cost of imports would increase by £11 billion.
Vote Leave say: Europe sells much more to the UK than we sell to them, making it in the EU’s interest to reach a free-trade deal with us.
Claim: Jobs would be at risk – three million UK jobs are linked to our trade with the EU.
Vote Leave say: It is not necessary to be part of a political union to trade freely with the EU. The figure was invented by the pro-Euro campaign group, Britain in Europe, in 2000.
Claim: Countries that want free access to Europe’s market of 500 million have to accept free movement of people.
Vote Leave say: Many countries, such as Chile and Peru, have free-trade deals with the EU without having to accept unlimited migration.
Claim: Leaving the EU would mean our border controls move from Calais to Dover.
Vote Leave say: Immigration officers are in Calais as part of an agreement with France, which is independent of our EU membership.
Claim: It is a UKIP myth that we have to do whatever the EU tells – they set our laws.
Vote Leave say: EU law has supremacy over UK law.
Claim: EU membership is essential to Britain’s national security.
Vote Leave say: The EU prevents removal of violent criminals, while the European Court of Justice makes it harder to strip citizenship from British nationals who have gon abroad to engage in terrorism.
Food for thought.
-- Ian Smith, Bury St Edmunds