A selelction of readers’ letters from the Bury Free Press of Friday, January 22
WE DONT NEED MORE HOUSES
I still can’t believe what I read on the Bury Free Press website yesterday. When RAF Mildenhall finally closes around 2020, our government has come up with a brilliant idea – sell the site for housing. Housing? Really? Yes, really! From the figures published, at least 1,000 new homes.
Even allowing for some (possible) expansion at Lakenheath – where there are already plans to build hundreds of new homes – there are going to be countless properties on the market in and around Mildenhall when all the US tenants have left. And hundreds less jobs. So the government thinks we need more houses for 3,000 people, in an area with little employment and no real infrastructure.
Are they stupid, or do they just not care?
Matthew Hancock, our esteemed MP and government minister, who has consistently told us how hard he has been working in partnership with local politicians to ensure that the RAF Mildenhall site had a meaningful future, is quoted as saying that “It is very good news”. What? Can you explain that please?
Apparently, the real danger is that the site would be mothballed. Well, Mr Hancock, if no developers can be found to build the houses that are not wanted, the site will become like a tumbleweed town. Unless, of course, you and your friends can come up with 3,000 people, and the jobs and infrastructure to go with them. Where would they get 3000 people from I wonder – the mind boggles. And will the government as the people of Mildenhall whether they want thousands more people living here?
I ask again, are they stupid, or do they just not care? A little of both I suspect.
-- John Berrett, Barton Mills
MoD CAN’T DECIDE FUTURE USES
The recent announcements about RAF Mildenhall and the other bases that they will be sold for housing are not legally sound. The MoD is not the planning authority and as such has no right to declare what future use will be for the bases. It can only sell them for a use to be determined.
True, it could covenant some aspects, but it cannot give permission to build anything. Any permission has to come from the relevant authority and be governed by the planning process. Sure, to maximise value then housing is the way forward but cannot be guaranteed as a right.
It would be more sensible and sustainable to make use of the infrastructure and put housing where jobs are to avoid comutting mileage. Jobs are centered in Bury St Edmunds and Cambridge so development in those areas is more sensible.
In any case, a substantial amount of housing will be vacated by the American personnel when they leave negating the need to build more, something the local planning authority is better positioned to judge in the due process of forward development plans. These, rather than the MoD should govern the future use of these bases.
-- Neal Entwistle, West Row
A SENSIBLE DECISION
Rather than criticise the council for spending £50,000 on purchasing an option on the proposed Hollow Road Farm waste site (Letters, January), I would like to commend them for their professionalism and foresight.
Can you imagine the howls of complaints should the expensive planning, consultation and impact study process result in a decision for the Hollow Road site but the council had not secured the price to buy it. Sure as night follows day, that price would shoot up as the council is a forced buyer and the land worth more with the change of use consent.
Every professional developer would have taken a similar action and I suspect £50,000 is not an unfair price given the time and cost of this consultation and the scale of the project. By all means criticise the council for parking charges but not this.
Be reassured that they have acted professionally and properly even if the decision is not in favour of that site.
-- Robert Hughes, Bury St Edmunds
RAIL MUST ALSO BE EXPANDED
I read Matt Moss’s (Bury Free Press, January 15) with interest. There is no doubt that the congestion on the A14 is unacceptable; not to put too fine a point on it: the A14 is full!
Equally, there is no doubt that this adversely impacts both business and individuals. However, it is disappointing that the Chamber of Commerce’s only solution is investment in the road network with no mention of rail. If only half the freight currently transported by lorries on the A14 was, instead, carried on an improved rail system, not only would congestion be dramatically reduced but our air quality would improve contributing to our health and that of the planet.
Given the inexorably growing pressure on our road system from both business and new housing, it is a complete mystery to me why this, and previous governments, have failed to invest in rail infrastructure.
Simply widening our roads and building new ones is only a short term fix; it is well known that new roads attract new traffic in a very short period of time. Moreover, focusing on road transport will do nothing to reduce our carbon emissions.
I urge the chamber, and our elected politician who are supporting No More A14 delays in Suffolk, to include an improved rail network in its demands. Such investment will have long term and very real benefits for residents, business and the environment.
-- Julia Wakelam, Member Risbygate Ward, St Edmundsbury Borough Council
WORKWISE OFFER UNIQUE SERVICE
It has been widely reported recently that Papworth Trust has announced the closure of the locally-based mental health charity, Workwise, which for 30 years has been providing a sheltered workplace environment for those recovering from mental ill health.
At Workwise, clients are offered work-based training in many creative skills, such as textiles and woodwork, using computer technology for design and production processes. They have employment support and can gain qualifications in IT and administration. Their confidence and abilities are built up by the support of caring staff and volunteers, enabling a high percentage to go on to employment, voluntary work or education.
I know this because, as someone diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I have greatly benefited from attending Workwise for a number of years, and in more recent times have been able to offer myself as a volunteer instructor.
I do not understand the specific reasons for the closure, but I imagine that it is not because of a lack of demand for the service, but a lack of public funding from local and central government to pay for those referred to Workwise. I fear that, without the support of this organisation, a number of people may end up needing inpatient hospital treatment – a much more expensive drain on the public purse.
Workwise is unique in what it provides and it will be a tragedy to see it go.
-- Pam Gosling, Bury St Edmunds
HEALTH ‘THREAT’ TO INDUSTRIES
Do the residents of Bury feel the important sugar and brewing industries are threatened by the current debates about our health?
I grew up in Bury and have vivid memories of cycling to the grammar school, dodging the occasional lump of sugar beet on the road around Angel Hill, my nose full of the smell of the brewery and more distant sugar factory, on cold, frosty mornings.
-- Chris Jackson, via email
PARKING NEEDS TO BE SORTED
Who can help in regards to the ridiculous parking or rather lack of parking at West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds?
I allowed an hour extra to park to attend my already once cancelled appointment.
On driving in and out with plastic yellow chips for the machines four times my appointment time had passed.
I rang to explain. My blood pressure was through the roof and I was feeling like whatever I did next could result in me being admitted! One way to keep my appointment I suppose.
This is a huge hospital, something needs to be sorted.
-- Helen Read, via email
LET’S GIVE JEREMY CORBYN A CHANCE
In reply to William Partridge (Bury Free Press, January 15), politics is not a game.
Jeremy Corbyn is a controversial politician at present. And at present life is very difficult for lots of people because of the austerity imposed on them by the Tory government.
Things have got to change and at present mainstream Labour politicians haven’t got an answer to the problems caused by relentless, heartless Tory policies.
Jeremy Corbyn has four years to make changes so let’s give him a chance. Labour Party members are not divided, we have a range of beliefs and opinions, and in Parliament and in constituencies we are talking to each other about how to stop the Tory government from making the rich richer and the poor poorer.
-- Sue Gridley, via email
GIVE STORE MORE TIME PLEASE
RE closure of Morrisons in Stowmarket.
An awful decision: This store is ideal for our town – well-stocked, with a wonderful friendly and efficient staff and excellently sited at the top end of Ipswich Street.
I shop for someone disabled; should she wish to come in, there are no steps or slopes for her wheelchair to contend with.
The store supports our foodbank as well as other charities.
Is five years’ trading really enough to establish its viability? Give it more time, please.
-- Jill Mortiboys, Stowmarket
ST JOHN’S STREET HAS GREAT SHOPS
Although very much in agreement with Michael Apichella’s column that a town with no bookshops is unthinkable (Bury Free Press, January 15), I would like to put in a word for St John’s Street, which was not mentioned in the column.
This historic street has long been a Mecca for collectors and continues the tradition today.
Going back a generation, my father’s shop, G K Scott, was next door to the Christian Bookshop. Nowadays, there are several charity shops along the street, including St Nicholas Hospice Care and Age UK. St Nicholas Hospice’s shop has recently extended the collectable books section and also provides a wide variety of local books, literature, military, travel etc as well as shelves of fiction.
Looking to the near future, a selection of quality older books is to be included in a new antiques centre, Smoking Monkey Antiques, due to open in 2016 alongside St John’s Church. Happily for Bury’s bibliophiles, there are still plenty of interesting secondhand book shops to be found in St John’s Street.
-- Sally Smith, Pakenham