A selection of readers’ letters fro the Bury Free Press of Friday, June 26.
I FEEL HUMBLE AND PROUD
Please accept my thanks for the way your paper reported the Queen’s Birthday Honours and in particular the article you did on me being awarded the BEM. Would you be kind enough to pass on my gratitude to your reporters for providing such a nice write-up?
As a result I have received dozens of lovely messages from well-wishers from all over the county. They came by the letter, telephone, email, word of mouth, on the way to the shops and even when travelling on the bus to town.
The St Edmundsbury Male Voice Choir made me feel very special at rehearsal last Thursday with a chorus of For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.
To all of these wonderful people I want to say ‘Thank you all so very much for your kind words; they will remain with me for the rest of my life’.
Receiving the British Empire Medal is very special in itself but the amount of correspondence that I have received makes it even more special and has made me realise just how lucky I am to live in such a nice town so full of wonderful people.
I feel humble and yet so very proud.
-- Ernie Broom, St Olaves Road, Bury St Edmunds
ACT DEFENDS RIGHTS OF US ALL
It is regrettable that so much prominence was given to David Cameron’s letter in your recent edition (Bury Free Press, June 19), without the balance of a report on the St Edmundsbury Libertea, an excellent event at which human rights were defended eloquently and passionately.
The Human Rights Act defends the rights of us all, because we are human, not because someone has judged us to be worthy. The elderly couple who would have been forced into separate care homes; the single mother who escaped an abusive relationship, only to be threatened with having her children taken away from her; the families of soldiers killed when they were given inadequate equipment; the rape victims whose cases were not investigated: these, and many more, are testimony to the need for the Human Rights Act.
This government – which has already made drastic cuts to criminal Legal Aid, thus restricting access to justice – plans to scrap the Human Rights Act and replace it with a ‘Bill of Rights’, restricted to certain groups of people, chosen by them.
This kind of thinking has some alarming precedents. Hardly a way to ‘restore the reputation’ of human rights or celebrate the legacy of the Magna Carta.
-- Avril Dawson, chairman, Bury St Edmunds Amnesty International
SOLVE PROBLEMS BEFORE BUILDING
Cllr Thompson’s letter (Bury Free Press, June 19) states that I spoke at the county council development control committee against the plans for the new upper school at Moreton Hall. This is untrue; the first thing I said was: “A new upper school is welcomed by just about everybody in Bury, including those who are critical of specifics.” Yes, there are concerns and the time to resolve them is before it’s built.
Cllr Thompson also accuses me of taking a negative viewpoint without putting forward a reasonable and deliverable alternative. Again, this is untrue with reasonable and deliverable solutions proposed from early in the process.
Technically, the school is in Rougham and their own county councillor also raised concerns about travel arrangements.
Having previously visited the site, the committee voiced concerns about the design and location but the issues that attracted the most debate were the provision of drop-off points and also the proximity of the airfield following safety concerns raised by the flying club. The cross-party committee therefore voted to reject the application, not to deprive us of a much-needed school but to get their concerns addressed. The committee is to meet again on July 8 when new information will be available that I hope will move this forward. It’s a shame this new information wasn’t available at the last meeting.
The leader of the county council has said the school will be delivered on time and it’s worth noting that the tight time scale is not because of this delay but to more fundamental problems in recent years.
Throughout 20 years in local government, I have never been accused of not wanting the best for those I represent. I want the new school to be the best that can be achieved and that includes trying to prevent some of the problems affecting so many existing schools that should have, and could have, been addressed at the planning stage.
Once up and running, the school must be free to concentrate on providing top-class education and not having to deal with omissions from the planning stage. This school and its associated community facilities are much too important to become political.
-- Cllr Trevor Beckwith, Eastgate and Moreton Hall Division, Suffolk County Council
PLENTY OF PARKING FOR NEW HOMES
Your article ‘Green light for homes schemes’ (Bury Free Press, June 19) explains all the reasons why the borough council has granted consent for the building of seven houses facing the St Andrew’s car park, except one – car parking. The application site lies outside the Zone A Brackland permit parking area, so that any resident of the seven homes, when built, cannot park in nearby Bishops Road or Blomfield Street during the day because they are not eligible to buy a permit in this or any other zone. In the evening from 6pm until 8am the following morning (10am on Sundays) anyone can park a car in the St Andrew’s long-stay section free of charge. This section – just a few metres from the site of the terraced row of seven houses – has over 180 spaces and there are rarely more than 20 cars parked overnight, so there is an abundance of empty spaces to choose from. Weekly tickets are available at an equivalent cost of £1.50 a day (the same as the single bus fare from the suburbs to the nearby bus station). All this assumes that the residents of the seven social housing units own cars. Given the close proximity to the main town centre retail area, the bus station and the short distance from the railway station and a major superstore, some might question what use is a car? There is also the fact that those of us on low incomes couldn’t afford to buy, tax, insure or fill a car with fuel, even if we wanted to.
Most of the town centre and inner suburban streets are now covered by permit parking zones, pay-and-display bays or legally-enforceable restricted areas mainly covered by primrose yellow lines. There are a few ‘pockets’ of free parking during the day but efforts are being made to eliminate those, particularly by extending Zone H to cover the western halves of York Road and Queen’s Road, and devising a way of protecting a residential area next to the Zone L scheme introduced at the request of local residents last November. As the majority of motorists pay something to park in or near the town centre, either on-street or in the borough council-owned car parks, it seems only fair that everyone makes a contribution, however small. The highest daily tariff is £4 for 4 hours in the Cattle Market/arc car park.
-- David Nettleton, County Councillor – Tower Division; Borough Councillor – Risbygate Ward
WE ALL NEED THIS PROTECTION
On Sunday, June 14, I was at the ‘Liber-tea’ at the Cathedral, marking the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. We listened to an inspiring celebration of human rights which are, of course, very much part of our British heritage.
I was therefore most disappointed that there was only passing mention of this event in last Friday’s Bury Free Press, but considerable print space was devoted to the utterances of David Cameron, whose stated intention is to repeal our Human Rights Act, largely on the back of popular misunderstandings which result from misleading reporting of a very few cases. The Act has thus far been used mainly to protect the rights of very vulnerable people, older couples, people with disabilities and rape victims for instance. We could all need the protection of the Act, which is there to serve everyone. It enables matters to be dealt with by UK courts, rather than having to go to the European Court in Strasbourg for any redress.
As well as crucially removing vital legal protection to us all, how will it look in the wider world if we repeal our Human Rights Act ?
-- Maggie Cohen, via email
UK NEEDS TO SET A GOOD EXAMPLE
Eleven people from the Bury St Edmunds’ constituency went up to London on Wednesday, June 17,to lobby our MP, Jo Churchill, about the issue of climate change. After some initial concern that we would not be able to see our elected representative, we eventually met her in Portcullis House. It was good to hear from her that she was very concerned about climate change, that she was a supporter of renewable energy and that she felt we needed to change building regulations so that new houses were more energy efficient. She also expressed concern about the effects climate change would have on East Anglia, in particular the likelihood of increased coastal flooding, and the effects that were already being felt in countries like Tanzania as rainfall becomes increasingly unreliable.
So far so good, and yet...and yet... she supports the government line on fracking in the UK. Fracking for gas and oil could mean, of course, more fossil fuels being available at lower prices and therefore an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and a rise in global temperatures. We cannot afford for that to happen.
The following day, David Cameron, announced that grants for onshore wind farms were being withdrawn a year early, so one has to wonder if Mrs Churchill and the government of which she is a part have any real understanding of climate change and any desire to do very much about it. Words are cheap, but we need some serious action if our planet is not to be devastated by the effects of climate change. Mr Cameron has a chance to show that he fully understands the impact of it on all our lives at the UN Paris conference in early December, by taking a lead in demanding serious reductions in CO2 from all nations. He will only be able to do so if he can demonstrate that the UK is setting a good example.
It was also good to see Mrs Churchill at our new bishop’s enthronement on Saturday.Perhaps she and Mr Cameron should read and inwardly digest the Pope’s latest encyclical and the recent declaration signed by Archbishop Welby and other British faith leaders about caring for God’s creation. Let us pray that they do and that they take action before it is too late.
-- Richard Stainer, Bradfield St George
TARGET IS NOT REALISTIC
Setting ambitious education targets is, of course, to be encouraged, but Lisa Chambers’ latest promise – that the local authority will ‘focus on key areas for improvement, including having all schools in the county rated as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by 2017’ – goes beyond ambitious into hubris.
Leaving to one side the fact we have no control over when Ofsted will inspect a given school, according to the latest school inspection data from Ofsted (up to April 2015) there are 152 local authorities. Only one of these met Ms Chambers’ target. That local authority was the City of London. That local authority has just one school!
None of the 125 local authorities above Suffolk in the 2014 GCSE league table met Ms Chambers’ target. Not even the Isles of Scilly, which has just two schools. Indeed, Gloucestershire (statistically speaking a neighbouring local authority) which came around 100 places above Suffolk in the league tables managed that excellent result with 36 schools rated less than Good by Ofsted.
Of course, we all want more Suffolk children educated in Good or Outstanding schools. But, setting plainly absurd targets surely just damages further the local authority’s already rocky reputation for educational competence.
-- John Park, Bury St Edmunds
WE DESERVE AN APOLOGY
I would like to invite Cllr Peter Stevens to issue a public apology for the patronising and intelligence-insulting way he dismissed the views and concerns of the collected villagers of the Fornhams and Great Barton during the St Edmundsbury Borough Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, regarding the flawed proposals to locate the West Suffolk Operational Hub and Waste Facilities at Hollow Road Farm.
Clearly, he had forgotten that he and his officers organised a facility visit for parish councillors to sites in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, to see for themselves how neighbouring counties provide waste services in accordance with current industry best practice. The Hollow Road Farm proposals are at significant variance from established practice, particularly in the context of co-locating household waste recycling centres (HWRC) alongside waste transfer stations. The latter are most normally located at the extremities of industrial areas and close to major trunk roads, in Bury’s case, the A14.
Cllr John Griffiths assured a packed chamber that further consultation would include proper investigation of alternative sites – and yet, Cabinet then rubber stamped their own preferred recommendation to consult again on only a single site.
This is not what we expect of local governance or our elected representatives. Or are there other influences at work here?
-- Adrian Graves, Great Barton