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Bury Free Press readers' letters to the editor

The electoral system, parking tickets and a bit of nostalgia among this week's letters.


Once again, our ‘First-Past-the-Post-Vote-If-You-Feel-Like-It’ system has delivered many councillors (and an MP) who are not supported by the majority of electors in a given area.

Readers' letters
Readers' letters

I have examined the results for Devon (my home county) and note that the Conservatives retain their hold; however, the voting figures show that the majority of electors did not vote for them.

This is not sour grapes on my part because I am not a Conservative voter; I echo what Hilary Clinton has said recently that Democracy is in crisis. At nearly 70, I have voted in every election – bar one – since I was 18 and had I torn up my ballot papers, I would have had just as much effect on the results. This is true of the many non-Tory voters in Bury St Edmunds but it is equally true of voters who live in strong Labour areas who do not vote Labour.

I am a great believer in Democracy; however, I will paraphrase Winston Churchill and say that Democracy is a not a good system but it’s the best we have. I take heart in the fact that our system of government has evolved over more that 400 years and is the result of evolution not revolution. It is, however, time that it evolved again. People must feel that they are listened to and that their vote counts, and not just at election time. The present FPP system leads to over-promising and under-delivering, and needs to change if we are to combat apathy and populism. Such change would be complicated and, therefore, I feel should be the charge – as suggested by the late Shirley Williams – of a Royal Commission on the Constitution.

I hope to see such change in my lifetime but I am not optimistic.

Martin Webb, Bury St Edmunds


In the 2019 General Election, 48 per cent of the votes cast were for the three Brexit parties – the Tories, UKIP and the Brexit party. Due to our electoral system, this was widely hailed as an overwhelming mandate for Boris Johnson and Brexit.

In last week’s local elections, the only significant Brexit party left, the Tories, supposedly supported by the majority of Leavers obtained 36 per cent of the votes cast. Almost all the media have interpreted this as a strong endorsement of Boris Johnson and his Brexit deal. Can somebody please explain this to me when almost twice as many people voted for other parties?

Tony Martin, Woolpit


I reckon there are not many readers who remember the iron railings either side of the Abbey Gate!

I believe they were removed and used as part of the war effort (World War One, I believe) I believe).

Trevor Goodfellow’s restored picture of the railings on Angel Hill
Trevor Goodfellow’s restored picture of the railings on Angel Hill

Above is a restored copy of a photo postcard I have from the early 1900s featuring the Boy Scout group at an unknown event to the left of the Abbey Gate in Bury.

I have been unable to find the photo of the World War One tank that stood in the Abbey Gardens which could have been part of a national programme to get people to sign up to the forces. I was told that my late uncle, Ken Pettit, had a work bench made from part of it in his workshop when the tank was dismantled. This was in his work premises in Whiting Street then College Lane for many years when he traded as PP Electrics (Pettit and Potter).

Trevor Goodfellow, Thurston


The letter from Mr Castle (Bury Free Press, May 7) has resonated with many of my friends.

We are able to see our dentist and opticians but we have to go through many obstacles to see a GP. Thank goodness for our local pharmacists who are happy to give face to face advice and, in my case, check my blood pressure.

Is this the beginning of a new age of general practice?

Terry Whiteway, Bury St Edmunds


Why can’t the doctors see patients? Dentists do. What is the difference between a doctor and dentist? They are both in proximity of the patient.

They get paid a decent salary so why aren’t they earning it?

The Health Secretary ought to be intervening and say they must see patients.

John Worsley, via email


I so agree with the recent letter from Ernie Castle about seeing a doctor.

My case is slightly different. After years of being registered with a surgery in Bury, their admin told me that I was not in their ‘visiting area’, so I was forced to transfer to a surgery in Melford, which is in their ‘visiting area’.

Since then, my health has plummeted (I am nearly 79). I have had a mini-stroke which affects my speech and I have cataracts and glaucoma which means I can’t drive a car any more. Now the Melford surgery says they will not visit me except ‘in an emergency’. What good is that?

John Shayer, Shimpling


Reference the letter in the Bury Free Press of May 7, the book A Suffolk Summer is still in print and available to purchase from the information centre and shop in the Abbey Gardens.

This is an interesting story of an American serviceman’s time spent cycling around the lanes of Suffolk during the Second World War.

All proceeds from book sales go to support his favourite place in Suffolk, the Rose Garden in The Abbey Gardens.

Alan Jary, Chairman of Abbey Garden Friends


I would totally agree with Naemi Kilbey (Letters, May 7) that car parking appeal systems in Bury St Edmunds and indeed the UK are unfair, and loaded unjustly towards the motorist.

I have several examples from my own experiences over the years. When working at a tutoring centre in a north Essex borough, the receptionist inadvertently placed the wrong date on the car park permit ie: a Sunday rather than Monday! Despite sending a copy of the diary page and a letter to the council, they would not enter into any correspondence. Eventually, and unbeknown to me, my so called ‘infringement of regulations’ was taken to court in Northampton and the charges were increased. There was no right of appeal.

When parking in a seaside town in Tendring at the time of the annual airshow, I spotted that there were some areas of special regulation; I assumed these were to cope with parking during the show. I parked as always outside the care home I was visiting and when I came out my car was ticketed. There were no signs-the council was not required to put any up, and no road markings. I had parked across a dropped kerb to a house, but the house was empty and derelict. Further investigation later revealed that no one had the opportunity to appeal.

On another day I saw a car in the same road being ticketed by the civil enforcement officer. He was so proud of his work that he was pirouetting like a ballerina to photograph the ticket from all angles.

Finally, when parking in Newark when returning from holiday, I came back to find a ‘ticket’ on the windscreen alleging that no ticket had been on display when it was very visible.I hurried up to the Town Hall and banged on the door of the parking superintendent’s office – he fortunately was a reasonable man and eventually the matter was sorted the following week.

In recent weeks I parked in Ipswich and had an encounter with what I could only describe as a ‘mean spirited’ civil enforcement officer when trying to collect a disabled neighbour from an optical specialists.

Unfortunately, wherever you go the regulations are sometimes applied too fervently, and there seems to be a delight in harassing the motorist and probably spoiling a day out. The system is unfair and predjudiced. As in Naemi’s case, immediately I said I would never return to the shopping centre of Newark,and as yet I have not.

Civil enforcement officers should realise that you only have ‘one’ chance to make a good impression. Botch it by issuing tickets for alleged parking infringements will deter the visitor. Unfortunately, I believe many parking staff are on a bonus to issue the maximum number of tickets.!

Graham Day, Stowmarket


My husband has a simple solution to secure a parking ticket – attach a clothes peg to it just make sure it is facing the correct way!

Ruth Frost, via email


I would like to thank everyone who helped me on Saturday, May 8, when I had an accident by McDonald’s in Bury St Edmunds. Also the emergency services who also turned up and, of course ,the A&E department.

Maria Donnelly, via email