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Bury Free Press readers' letters to the editor

Planning and Brexit are among this week's topics again, but first a more optimistic look to beyond the pandemic.


The health crisis because of Covid-19 is severe and the resultant economic decline is a catastrophe waiting to unfold even further. Thought needs to be given to ideas which can stimulate what may almost become a dead economy.

The Rose Garden behind St Edmundsbury Cathedral
The Rose Garden behind St Edmundsbury Cathedral

On my visits to Bury St Edmunds over the years I have often visited the Rose Garden behind St Edmundsbury Cathedral as it is a haven of peace and tranquillity and a temporary refuge from the stresses and strains of everyday existence.

I have often introduced others to it as it is well hidden away, and they have often marvelled at Bury’s quiet oasis.

How did I find out about it? Many years ago in an antique bookshop, I came across a book entitled Suffolk Summer, written by John T Appleby, an American serviceman, who had been stationed in West Suffolk in the final period of the Second World War.

Harvard and Sorbonne educated, his wartime role was to train members of the US Eighth Army Air Force in the techniques of celestial navigation. When he had leave, he spent it cycling around Suffolk on a secondhand bicycle which he had bought.

The book is a masterpiece, describing his exploits and experiences exploring the Suffolk countryside in an easy to absorb way. True, it relates to a time long since gone, but nevertheless once picked up it was impossible to put down until it was finished.

He explored much of the west Suffolk area, and sometimes beyond. It certainly encouraged me to explore more of this fabulous county, written as it was by someone with no pre-conceptions and the open mind of a visitor.

Reading the book inspired me to find the Rose Garden. The book explains that during his trips into Bury he discovered a piece of wasteland behind what is now the cathedral. Because of his happiness and thankfulness at being stationed in Suffolk, he wanted to leave, as we would say now, an enduring legacy. He sought and received permission from the church authorities to clear and develop the Rose Garden. This he did by his own hands, so that by the time he returned to his home in Fayettville, Arkansas, his visual masterpiece was complete.

Appleby went back to academia in Arkansas, never married and never returned to Suffolk. Royalties from the sale of Suffolk Summer went toward the upkeep of the Rose Garden. He died of leukaemia, aged 67 in 1974.

Whenever I am travelling around the UK I find there are obscure trails around tourist destinations, which are often surprising and very interesting. Part of the rich tapestry of existence. Given that tourism and ‘staycations’ may well be one of the substantial ways businesses can recover post Covid-19, I am sure it would not be beyond the abilities of brilliant minds to devise a West Suffolk trail based on Appleby’s book. In Yorkshire there is Herriott Country, so why not?

The original book could also be tied in to the trail using smart technology.

No doubt JTA, a quiet man, would be very pleased that his endeavours all those years ago had borne fruit in this way.

There are ways to make use of heritage and tradition for income generation without destroying the very thing that was created in the first place. The need for some ‘outside the box’ thinking will be tremendously vital once the shackles of the pandemic start tio become unfettered.

Graham Day, Stowmarket


Now, have I got this right? Villages around Bury are to be steamrollered into further new housing developments. There will, of course, be full public consultations, presumably similar to those for the new waste hub recently opened (where, as I understand it, money had already been paid over for the land before the general public even became aware the location of a hub was even being considered). Public opinion will receive the usual due consideration . . . and then be ignored.

The designated status of most of these villages, relating to their infrastructure, will be unilaterally amended to allow for a greater concentration of housing than that currently allowed. So, as with Fornham St Martin, despite the absence of shops, doctors, schools etc, these areas will have a substantial addition of houses which, by definition, means people. Ah, but new facilities could/would undoubtedly be included we would be told. Well, we were told this when Marham Park was being planned but, surprise surprise, none of these materialised, although, very fortunately, the developers were able to . . . use those designated areas for more houses.

It will be interesting to see whether the field designated for development in Fornham St Martin will continue to be affected by the flooding which occurs any time there is any significant rainfall. The resulting ‘lake’, which attracts geese, ducks and gulls and which remains almost permanently throughout the winter, may well be a problem for the developers. No doubt they will show great confidence that they can solve the problem although Anglian Water has been unable to solve the problem of regularly overflowing drains at the beginning of the adjacent Lark Valley Drive (or indeed at the bottom of Barton Hill) in the 11 years we have lived here. Assuming it all goes ahead, I sincerely hope, for the sake of any of the future owners, that they are right.

I’m also aware that there is a real concern in Bury’s satellite villages that their existing separation from Bury itself will be eroded until they will simply be absorbed into the town itself. Any local self-regulation would undoubtedly be lost.

And, of course, another 5,000 cars trying to get round Bury, especially with the new cycle lanes . . . but don’t get me started on that.

Lee Miller, via email


Having spent my teenage years living with my family at 15 Grove Park, I was delighted when my brother sent a copy of the article by David Eldershaw, ‘100years ago – The story of Grove Park’, in last week’s Bury Free Press.

However, I would like to point out a small error in his information.

My grandparents – Mr & Mrs G Lewis – moved into 15 Grove Park soon after it was built. They had no running hot water and paid to have an immersion heater and tank fitted in the kitchen. To add insult, the council decided that, as the house was now superior to the others in the street, to put the rent up! The people next door only had hot water some years later when they upgraded all the houses.

Jennifer Hurrell (nee Smith), Sheffield


I have read the ongoing concerns over planning and building in Bury St Edmunds. Many have commented about the Tayfen development and concerns were voiced about the view from the rear of the existing houses – folks may remember the view was previously a used car lot and gasometer and gas works.

Others mentioned plans for Cornhill Walk which have been stalled for over five years. The plans are for two shops and a gym, as well as flats – they originally had public toilets planned but this was withdrawn. The gym caused concern as it was billed as 24 hours a day, but in reality few gyms can stay open later than 10pm or 11pm, opening before 6am, it’s too costly for staffing, heating lighting etc.

The plans for Cornhill Walk will remove a great eyesore and bring much-needed homes. The exterior plans are stepped back and use bricks similar to the shops currently opposite, very like the new building on St Andrew’s Street South.

Car parking can be stipulated by West Suffolk planning.

Mention was also made about the museum, but if you look carefully at the shops next to the museum the upper floor windows are a disgrace and this is true of many shops in our historic district. Ground floor interesting, upper levels disgusting.

And overlooking is now part and parcel of our town.

Cornhill and the new flats on St Andrew’s Street South may well hasten the time when the streets in the centre of Bury around the market become pedestrianised.

Some mention was made about Debenhams’ building – it would be illogical to tear it down and would be too costly to run as an art or community space – The Apex is still subsidised every year by West Suffolk Council and this idea for Debenhams would be a massive, costly white elephant.

Lastly, medieval grid homes are over £500,000, Howard Estate homes over £225,000 – young people need homes. The coronavirus pandemic proves that you don’t need massive offices, travel will change with electric cars becoming the norm, the town will change. Every resident can attend planning meetings and have their say – the town will grow, how it grows is up to all residents.

Tom Murray, Bury St Edmunds


I read an amusing report in the press recently about a UK trucker importing goods into Holland, who was held up at Customs, being searched for contraband.

The only item found of interest was his ham sandwich, due to the ban on imported meats into the EU, from an outside country. It was duly confiscated, with the jovial words of the Customs official: “Welcome to Brexit.”

When the trucker asked if he could keep the bread, it was refused. Isn’t that theft, as bread is not banned? So the trucker went hungry.

I just wonder if the sandwich had contained a Dutch cheese like Edam, if that would have been refused entry.?

At the same time it was reported 120 trucks were being bureaucratically held up from entry.

I think I will respond by refusing to buy Edam cheese, and probably Gouda too, and see if the Dutch Government find that amusing?

It is a shame the Dutch, such a mild and pleasant population normally, are acting like this, in such a trivial and petulant way.

I have had two very enjoyable holidays in Holland, made special by the friendliness of the people to visitors, at Kempervennen and Eindhoven.

But now we see they are ripping up the pavements in Eindhoven, to throw missiles at the riot police and horses, over lockdown restrictions which a lot object to.

With this change of attitude and associated looting of shops, ruining some, I wont be holidaying there again.

See if the Dutch Government find that amusing too?

David Yates, Fornham St Martin


Where was everybody? I refer to the poor turnout to applaud the achievements and passing of Sir Tom on a Thursday evening but weeks ago.

The weekly hand clap for our fantastic NHS went off very well attended and without a hitch, but – from where I stood – on the night in question, the turnout to honour Sir Tom was noticeable by its absence, and I can but assume that the occasion hadn’t been given the pubicity it deserved ?

I suggest – with publicity near to the date – that the nation put their hands together at a specified time on the day of Sir Tom’s funeral to honour the man who has captured the hearts and minds of us here and people worldwide

A captain’s innings, perfectly played, saving his best strokes for the last over

Name and address supplied


In an absent-minded moment (alas, a not infrequent occurrence these days!) I dropped my wallet in Bury’s Buttermarket on Wednesday last week. I hope you will allow me a small slot to say a huge thank-you to the unknown lady who so kindly retrieved it and handed it in at Messrs Haylock’s egg stall.

Sincere thanks to stallholders Philip and Fred, too.

David Ellwood, via email

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