Bury Free Press readers' letters to the editor
The wearing of face masks, 'outdated' parking regulations and HGVs on estate roads are top of this week's letters agenda.
FORGET MASKS AND LET’S GET ON WITH OUR LIVES
I was shocked to see in the news this week a member of SAGE and a behavioural psychologist, Prof Susan Mitchie, calling for us to wear masks forever now, in a similar way to how we wear seatbelts.
To me this seems crazy, as the evidence that they have any effect whatsoever is weak at best and they were not recommended at all prior to last June for reducing viral transmission (they are great for catching droplets when a surgeon is operating on you – which is what they have been used for previously, which is why they are called surgical masks and not virus masks).
If we look to Texas we aren’t seeing any increase in cases when they stopped mandating the use of masks months ago.
There are many negative aspects to mask wearing as well, such as missing out on social cues from people’s facial expression and making it hard to hear people when they are trying to speak to you. There is a huge amount of waste being produced, which is bad for the environment and bad for animals who can get caught up with them or swallow them.
It’s also bad for society as it’s a constant reminder that we’re in the middle of a pandemic, as if anyone needed any more reminding. With the vaccine rollout going so well, isn’t it time that we were allowed to relax a little bit whilst still keeping safe, if only for our own sanity. Our sanity has been stretched too much over the last 15 months or so already.
There is no strong evidence for face coverings making any difference to virus transmission, especially when they are worn wrong, fiddled with constantly and rarely washed or thrown away by some people.
So, how about we stop listening to people who talk about keeping these awful things ‘forever’ and get on with living our lives?
Steve Button, via email
HGV FREE-FOR-ALL ON MORETON HALL
When I moved on to Moreton Hall 34 years ago, Bedingfeld Way came to a dead end. Orttewell Road was not built – even then I thought that derelict farm house with the pond would one day make a nice pub.
If I go back another 20 years, there were many things happening, the country was moving into the future. The lorry was getting larger and later would be called HGV. The word bypass would frequently be used because more cars and larger lorries were on the road.
The A45 was changing and would later be called the A14. This road was modified with a bypass for Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket – before this, if going to Ipswich, you would go through Stowmarket town centre. I can always remember when coming out of Stowmarket you would see the start of their industrial park and the new ICI plant with its cricket pitch and football fields, tomorrow’s world.
If you drove through Stowmarket today you would not go through the town centre, the route is good even for an HGV going to the industrial site the other side of Stowmarket. It is a safe, well-planned road system. But HGVs have an alternative route to the industrial park, which they use as the council intended. Stowmarket has a sign at junction 49 saying to use junction 50 for the industrial park.
Moreton Hall today is at a crucial time with the creation of the Suffolk Business Park.
I have seen more HGVs on Bedingfeld Way and Junction 45 at Rougham is not being used.
The council has stated that there is no justification to compel drivers to use one or the other junctions and expects some drivers to use the Moreton Hall exit if they come from the west as this is the shortest route.
After 50 years of planning to keep people and HGVs apart we have a free-for-all on Moreton Hall.
Should the council, where possible, control routes for HGVs so they and the community get on together and not allow a free for all? At this crucial time we need people to think what is best for all of Moreton Hall.
William Hicks, Bury St Edmunds
PARKING REGULATIONS ARE INADEQUATE
An open letter to Cllr John Griffiths and Cllr Peter Stevens.
I have read with interest your statements of June 7 and am led to conclude that you either have limited knowledge of the problems of residents’ parking or simply choose to ignore them.
Your somewhat misguided interest appears to concentrate on the profits you can make rather than any honest attempt at problem- solving – you are travelling 180 degrees away from common sense –solve the problem then gather the profits.
I fear it is not the group mindset that is lacking but your own. Did you not fail in your promise to councillors whom you had undertaken to consult before making your own decision to proceed with appointing an external company to fulfil the comparatively simple task of seeking the imput from your electorate and how much will this external consultation cost? What is its brief? Who will it ‘consult’ ? (I live 200 yards from the war memorials in the very centre of town but have received nothing through my letterbox). if you felt that insufficient staff numbers prohibited the people in the council offices from undertaking this simple task, why did you not allow them to recruit ‘local’ part-timers, thereby generating invaluable if temporary experience and opportunity to our many unemployed youngsters? Instead you choose to expend the funds that you protest you do not have on an ‘external’ consultation.
You state: “Our tariff structure supports the local economy by helping manage and meet parking demand for workers and visitors including the turnover of spaces.” Not one mention is made of residents and yet residents from every zone have been asking for a review for years. My own ‘Zone A’ regulations are outdated and inadequate, the present permit system – resident, resident visitor and tradesman – continue to be abused on a daily basis in an area which is hugely oversubscribed, not because people ignore the lax regulations but because the lax regulations allow them so to do.
When these regulations were written, the best figures I have been able to obtain show that car ownership was 61 per cent lower than today, only nominated pharmacies opened on Sundays and the total population of Bury and surrounding villages was 32 per cent fewer, thus the need for Sunday restrictions was considerably less as was the total demand for ‘free’ parking.
Finally I would remind you that we, the residents are forced to make a simple choice: No car or pay for a piece of paper with a single value of avoiding parking fines but no guarantee of a space to park – I’ve often asked myself if this is strictly legal within the terms of the Consumer Act, exactly what ‘goods or services’ is being charged for here?
Paul Massey, Bury St Edmunds
QUAKERS WORKING TO MAINTAIN PEACE
Bury St Edmunds Quakers will hold an act of silent witness for peace on Armed Forces Day, Saturday, June 26. This will take place on the pedestrian area of Angel Hill from 11-11.30am.
We believe that showing our care for the men and women of the Armed Forces requires us to work for the peace which will keep them out of harm’s way. Believing also, that armed conflict is the failure of politics, diplomacy and, in the words of John Steinbeck, ‘of man as a thinking animal’, we encourage politicians, media and people to reflect upon the power of ‘unarmed forces’ – in peacekeeping, conflict prevention and resolution, nation building and humanitarian relief, and to invest greater value, both financially and morally in these areas.
We hold before you the words of the American theologian, Stanley Hauerwas: “As long as it is assumed that war is always an available option, we will not be forced to imagine any alternative to war.”
Please join us for all or part of the time if you feel able.
Bury St Edmunds Quakers, Quaker Meeting House, St John’s Street, Bury St Edmunds
APPROPRIATE EVENT FOR ROSE GARDEN
I was pleased to see the photographs (Bury Free Press, June 11) featuring the memorial service for Normandy Heroes, held in the Abbey Gardens Rose gardens.
I believe that John T Appleby would have regarded this as entirely appropriate – an oasis of peace and tranquility for contemplation and quiet reflection away from the hustle and bustle of a very busy and historic town.
Graham Day, Stowmarket
PLENTY OF WORK, BUT NO TIDYING UP
The town is looking very scruffy, over the last few months I noticed that there doesn’t seem to be anything done! The only that is being done is cables being laid,water and gas works . . . but no clearing of weeds in pavements.
Overall it has got worse.
Harry Brown, Bury St Edmunds
HELP PENSIONERS CLAIM WHAT’S THEIRS
The UK has never paid our pensioners more. Our annual state pension bill is £100 billion.
Around 1.5 million pensioners across Great Britain do receive the extra help from Pension Credit– a top up to their retirement incomes, which crucially offers a springboard to a variety of other bits of financial support, like a free TV licence, housing support, and more.
But here is the problem. There are still hundreds of thousands of pensioners who might be eligible for Pension Credit but simply are not claiming. They are missing out on this extra boost, which last year was worth, on average, around £64 a week.
That’s why the Department for Work and Pensions has teamed up with Age UK and the BBC to redouble our efforts to raise awareness of Pension Credit.
Pensioners whose income is below £177.10 (for individuals) or £270.30 (for couples) per week may be eligible to receive Pension Credit. And if your income is higher, you might still be eligible for Pension Credit if you have a disability, you care for someone, or you have particular housing costs.
Anyone can use the Department for Work and Pension’s free online Pension Credit calculator to check eligibility and get an estimate of what they might receive. Or you can call the DWP Pension Credit Freephone claim line on 0800 99 1234, or apply by post. Organisations such as Age UK or your local Citizens Advice Bureau can also help you to claim.
So, please, if you have a relative or are caring for someone help them make a claim.
Guy Opperman, Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion, DWP
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