Bury Free Press readers' letters to the editor
Matt Hancock's resignation, transport policy and air pollution are on the agenda this week.
CONSERVATIVES HAVE A LOT OF EXPLAINING TO DO
Is it too much to ask local Conservative MPs, including our own, to able to think for themselves and to do what is morally right and not simply regurgitate everything the Prime Minister says?
Not supporting the extension of free school meals for children during the school holidays and backing a miserly one per cent pay rise for those who had done so much to keep us safe through these troubled times was unforgivable enough but failure to call for the immediate resignation of the Health Secretary was mind bogglingly inept. I realise it was difficult for a character like the PM to sack the minister but you would hope your local representatives would have more integrity.
In the past few days, I have emailed Jo Churchill several times for her comment on these issues but to date have received no reply and therefore I have no idea as to whether she thinks the PM did the right thing in not sacking Matt Hancock and is frightened to admit so because of the backlash it would generate or she thinks the PM was wrong and should have fired him.
We all know Boris was elected for one reason only, to get Brexit done. It didn’t really matter how it was done, as long as it was done and Conservative MPs are putting up with his indiscretions and stupid policy decisions simply because they know he is, god knows why, popular with the public and will no doubt win them the next election.
When defending the indefensible, Ms Churchill & Co keep reminding us of the vaccination success in the hope that we will conveniently forget that their own Government is/was responsible for 10 years and more of austerity which brought the NHS to its knees, staff burnout, early retirements, shortages of staff and grossly under-paid social care workers. And now, through their incompetency and lack of pre-planning (remember 500 million PPEs were out of date), have been responsible for 127,000 deaths, including nearly 900 health workers, not to mention the longest waiting lists for non-Covid treatments in the history of the NHS.
Ms Churchill and her Tory colleagues have a lot of explaining to do. They should be ashamed of themselves for supporting such a sleazy Government, but I doubt they are. Just another unaccountable day at the office for them.
Peter Critchley, Pakenham
STRATEGIC PLANNING NEEDED FOR TRANSPORT
The need for an independent councillor to invoke a CCFA (Councillor Call For Action) process – as a ‘last resort’, after ‘hitting a brick wall’ through all other avenues (for four years), is surely testament to the ingrained cultural complacency and inertia that is now endemic throughout many of our public authorities and the services they are there to provide.
West Suffolk Council’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee (the recipient of the CCFA) is ‘likely’ to debate the issues associated with HGV traffic in the Moreton Hall area at its meeting on July 8. And then what will happen? Concurrently, a plea has been issued to the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman. What good will that do?
The current incumbent of ‘Ipswich-centric’ Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Portfolio for Highways, Transport and Rural Affairs (the fourth portfolio holder in four years) has announced a review of the county’s Lorry Route Plan. Given that Suffolk Highways struggle to manage existing potholes, don’t hold your breath. The proposed ‘during the summer’ consultation with parish councils will probably take place in August – when most parish councils don’t meet.
And all this rumbles on while every town and village across the county helplessly witnesses exponential growth, as thousands of new homes, industrial units and warehouses creep relentlessly into what used to be called ‘Rural Suffolk’ – with no clear, defined, overall strategy for the essential long-term infrastructure requirements to support it. A few Section 106 funded roundabouts, junction improvements, cycle lanes and pedestrian crossings will not fix the problems – and, in many cases, serve simply to move the problems somewhere else.
Many of the roads and thoroughfares in Suffolk date from the era of the horse and cart – with little ‘serious structural improvement’ in a century. While it is easy to have every sympathy for individual communities, it is not a sustainable solution to paper over the cracks of specific local issues (examples such as Moreton Hall and the Orttewell Bridge; Marham Park and Tut Hill; Barton Severals and the A143; Thurston and the Bunbury Crossroads) while ignoring the West Suffolk-wide, longer-term issues which involve the A14, A134, A143, A1101, B1106, et al – and all the minor roads which inter-link them. Even the hallowed south of Bury will not be immune from essential infrastructure improvements – to provide fit-for-purpose access to the planned new hospital.
Strategic planning demands a holistic approach which looks at the overall issues, not just the isolated hotspots which make the most noise or attract the most media coverage. It is time for a CCFA with a difference … ‘Communities Call For Action’. Infrastructure, highways and transport require all our authorities to develop a clear, defined, cohesive, logical and future proof strategy – then fund it and stick to it. And given that we have elected councillors who sit on both local and county authorities, there is simply no excuse for the lack of radical, joined up thinking.
Adrian Graves, Great Barton
MAKE KNOWN YOUR VIEWS ON PROPOSALS
Before lockdown, a packed meeting was held of local residents in Southgate Community Centre to discuss the problems arising from the increasingly frequent use of roads in the vicinity of West Suffolk Hospital.
Chaired by County Councillor Richard Rout a set of proposals have now been sent out by the Suffolk Highways Department to all affected residents with proposals to ameliorate the problem.
It’s really important that we have a large volume of responses stating support as it will be essential to moving forward. A lack of objections won’t be sufficient. This can be a real hurdle as people often only reply if they object! The bar is set very high at a 50 per cent response – far more than the turnout in local elections. I would not wish the proposals to fall due to a lack of replies from those who are supportive.
For the sake of local democracy, even if you don’t support the proposals – reply. Finally, thank you to Richard Rout for all his hard work on this matter.
The closing date for responses is Wednesday, July 7. The quickest way to express your views is to email – firstname.lastname@example.org – or write to Suffolk Highways at: Phoenix House, 3 Goddard Road, Ipswich IP1 5NP
Bob Jones, Bury St Edmunds
WE SHOULD ALL BE DOING OUR BIT
Following on from National Clean Air Day, I am pleased to see that there is now some debate regarding pollution caused by idling engines, particularly of cars at level crossings and in traffic congestion.
It never ceases to amaze me that when stuck in a queue at one of the many invasive species of temporary traffic lights (the Japenese knotweed of travel!), or at railway level crossings, that drivers leave their car engines running. It does not necessarily ensure a quick getaway!
When stuck in this way, I turn the engine off. Cutting emissions and reducing harm should be of paramount importance. As individuals we must do our ‘bit’. It is no use relying on airy fairy Government pronouncements about electric vehicles – pie in the sky unless significant financial stimulus is given by the Government for us change our vehicles. Public electric charging points need to be installed quicker and have greater coverage than at present.Until that utopia arrives, we should stop idling.
Graham Day, Stowmarket
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