Bury Free Press readers' letters to the editor
National issues, plus some Cold War nostalgia are among this week's letter subjects.
WE LEFT THE EU WITH A TERRIBLE DEAL
Recently, a lot of the post-Brexit trade problems have been blamed, by some, on the intransigent – almost vindictive – nature of the EU.
This may or may not be the case and I doubt that it will be proved either way. However, if the EU is being obstructive, our politicians must shoulder their share of the blame. They pulled us out of the EU, after what have been termed difficult – or even acrimonious - meetings, with an agreement which leaves very much to be desired – unlike countries, such as Iceland, Switzerland, Norway or Canada, all of which have agreements which took time to hammer out.
We have left the EU with a terrible deal as, at the time, members of the government wanted ‘freedom’ from the EU so that Britain could plough its own furrow unhindered – and that freedom as quickly as possible. However, all trade discussions between sovereign states have always been lengthy and based on precision and compromise. It seems to me that we have ministers who lack the competence to negotiate, feeling that ‘British Exceptionalism’ should be enough to strike a deal. The rest of the world seems to think otherwise.
I fear that we have a government whose members care more about their own careers than our country – its wellbeing and reputation on the world stage. I cannot understand why these politicians, who have displayed such incompetence and wasted so much time and so much of the nation’s wealth and reputation on this ideologically-motivated, make-it-up-as-you-go-along project, should be treated so leniently. Sadly, nor can I see the recent reshuffle making much difference; the phrase that comes to my mind, and to the minds of many others, contains the words ‘deckchairs’ and ‘Titanic’; however, I hope for the sake of our country that I am proved wrong.
Martin Webb, Bury St Edmunds
COULD SUPERMARKETS USE SMALLER LORRIES?
We should ask the supermarkets why, if they have a shortage of stock due to a lorry driver shortage, why don’t they use non-HGV lorries? There’s plenty of people out there who can drive them and would be happy to.
Also, why are they having sales if there’s a shortage. My Tesco has lots of empty shelves yet they are advertising on TV a Tesco Club Card sale.
It seems to me it’s scaremongering to boost sales and an excuse to raise prices near Christmas.
David Flaherty, Bury St Edmunds
THE POOR ARE BEING MADE POORER
It beggars’ belief that the Government seems hell bent on policies that make the poorest in our society even poorer.
I believe I am right in saying that our own MP, Jo Churchill, supported: (i) the cancelling of free school meals during the Christmas break; (ii) reducing the Overseas Aid budget and now, (iii) withdrawing £20 per week from the Universal Credit benefit.
Imagine the uproar if the Government suggested taking £20 per week off every MP and other wealthier members of society, but none of them bat an eyelid when it is taken off the poorest. Quite happy, as we have heard on the news today, to give money to the gas companies whose directors are making millions out of selling the product but turn a blind eye when it comes to helping those struggling to pay for an over-priced privatised product.
Some of these poorest paid people are those who were on the front line throughout the pandemic, whether working in hospitals or care homes and look how the Government has treated them. The PM initially offered these workers a one per cent rise and then increased it to three per cent following a political backlash, but analysis shows that this rise will be more than cancelled out by the £20 per week reduction in Universal Credit and this without the extra burden of a 1.25% National Insurance tax increase which affects the less well-off because it starts at a lower level than it would if income tax was used.
Government data shows that, overall, nurses and care home workers already on low pay will be £940 a year worse off.
One of Ms Churchill’s colleagues, Therese Coffey MP, said that all these workers need to do is to work a couple of extra hours a week! Such a remark just shows how out of touch Conservative MPs are with the real world and she should have been sacked on the spot.
I was under the impression that your local MP was supposed to represent the views of their constituents. I have to believe too that the vast majority of the readers of the Bury Free Press would not condone making the poorest in society, especially those who gave up so much during the early days of the pandemic, even poorer.
Peter Critchley, Pakenham
IGNORANCE WAS BLISS THE IN 1960S
Growing up in the 1960s, although we as children knew about the ‘Cold War’, and had a ready appreciation of the terrifying consequences if it all went horribly wrong, exposure to the day to day detail and impact on our lives was quite limited.
Obviously we were aware of huge events like the 1962 Cuba Missile Crisis and, cycling around with my friends, we would encounter radio and radar stations which looked threatening. However we would assume that it they were for our own protection from danger, and V bombers were there to respond with nuclear weapons if the UK was attacked.
Little did we really know as to what was going on.
My eyes were opened somewhat when working in Oxfordshire in the mid-1980s, where part of my working brief included Emergency Planning. At the height of the Cruise Missile Crisis I was suddenly thrust into a world where official guidance was ‘Protect and Survive’, where meetings were held in ‘bunkers’ in remote locations, and where attendance at emergency planning scenarios for a week in Yorkshire were the norm. Even then, it was difficult to be certain as to whether we would be properly prepared if things turned for the worst.
Slowly but surely some of the physical remains of those terrifying and potentially tumultuous times are coming to light. In northernmost rural Suffolk, at Barnham on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, the owner of an industrial estate, Keith Eldred, has made it his life’s work to preserve the remains of RAF Barnham Nuclear Bomb Store and to open it to the public.
On a sunny September Saturday the opportunity came to join a trip organised by the East Anglian Practical Classics Car club to this still threatening facility. It is difficult to believe that nuclear bombs were transported by road from Aldermaston in Hampshire for servicing here. What about road safety, particularly to cycling schoolboys.
At the conclusion of the Second World War, the Government of the day had decided that Britain should still be a power in the world and, of course, this meant having a nuclear deterrent. Payloads of nuclear bombs would be delivered to aggressors by squadrons of V Bombers (Valiant, Victor and Vulcan), some of which were based at nearby RAF Honington.
At Southend Airport four years ago I was able to go inside a static restored Vulcan bomber; the plane and the bomb bay was large, but the crew accommodation very small. The first UK atomic bomb, waltzing its way through the early Cold War was called Blue Danube; an innocuous artistic name for a weapon of awesome terror.
We met Keith Eldred in the visitor centre, developed in conjunction with the University of East Anglia, listening to an informative talk and film. Then followed a tour of the site; the security fences and Berlin Wall-style watch towers (three out of four restored), the area from the perimeter fence to the innermost fence, which would have been patrolled by police with attack dogs. Plutonium was removed from the bombs and stored in a secure flask underground in small buildings nicknamed ‘hutches’. We visited buildings where the bombs would have been serviced, and saw other buildings which now had alternative uses. Although there is now sometimes a battle to stop the encroachment of nature on to the site, it was possible to visualise what it would have been like when operational; interested local people at the time would have been given a plausible explanation for activities here.
Over the years Historic England has recognised the importance of the site and has been prepared to assist with the cost of restoring what is a considerable national heritage asset.
Almost at the conclusion of the tour, there was the opportunity to see the reconstruction of a Blue Danube bomb near to the visitor centre – excellent for posed and group photographs, but also a chilling reminder, if it had been real, of Armageddon.
It is thanks to Keith that this unique site has now been preserved for posterity and is such an interesting, yet chilling reminder of what could have happened. It is a reminder that we should never be careless of our history as there is always so much to learn and understand, and I for one am extremely grateful that the determination of one man has indeed worked wonders. A unique, gold standard Suffolk location.
I am also pleased that in my later years I am now better informed than in my younger days.
Graham Day, Stowmarket
BISHOP MARTIN SPEAKS FOR US ALL
Bishop Martin Seeley’s recent powerful article on the Climate Emergency (Bury Free Press, August 26) should galvanise us all into action.
Not every columnist is able to contribute so creditably to the newspaper.
His was an admirable example of how to write an intelligent, respectful opinion piece, backed up by fact. Martin Seeley seems to write for everyone.
Avril Dawson, Havepeace, the Haverhill Peace Group