Bury Free Press readers' letters to the editor
An MP's response to criticisms and a swipe at a district council are among this week's contributions.
DEVELOPMENT LEVY CASH NEEDS TO BE SPENT NOW
Over the past four years, approval has been given by Babergh Mid Suffolk District Council for over 1,300 new homes within the ‘village’ of Thurston, consisting of seven major sites plus numerous smaller-scale developments.
With four of the major sites well under construction and a fifth to start imminently the effect has been to turn most of the northern area of the village into a massive building site with all the noise, dust, heavy vehicle traffic and disruption associated with large construction projects.
Unfortunately, despite the Section 106 agreements that were negotiated prior to the approval of each development and the many hundreds of thousands of pounds that the developers have paid the Council in Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), so far, apart from a new primary school, not one penny has been spent on the very necessary infrastructure improvements that are required within the village now as a result of these on-going developments!
All of these schemes were passed on the basis that significant upgrading would occur to the road networks and major junctions within the village, traffic management and pedestrian and cycling access features would be installed and residents access to services such as a doctors surgery would be improved.
The inadequacy of the existing ‘barrow crossing’ of the railway track at Thurston Station was also raised as a significant concern. To date, nothing at all has happened.
Twelve months ago Network Rail were granted £100,000 of CIL money to carry out yet another feasibility study and traffic assessment to provide an alternative solution to the barrow crossing at the station which they freely admit is over capacity and needs to be replaced. Since then, a youngster narrowly escaped with their life after being knocked off their bike by a train whilst crossing the railway lines. To date, they have done nothing.
The crossroads known as Fishwick Corner has witnessed several accidents over the last few months – it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed at this junction with the increase in traffic resulting from the growth of the village.
There are several other major junctions within the village that need solutions to address the increase in traffic. Again, to date, nothing has been spent on junction improvements or pedestrian access and crossing solutions by the council or Suffolk Highways.
I am seriously concerned that while the building of new homes is rapidly progressing and new residents are moving into the village, the vital infrastructure improvements are not being carried out in accordance with the speed of the developments.
Are we supposed to wait until all the developments have been completed before anything whatsoever is spent by Babergh Mid Suffolk District and Suffolk County Council to address the issues? The situation is totally unacceptable – the councils need to get their acts together, implement the measures negotiated in the Section 106 agreements and start to spend some of the vast CIL reserves that they are sitting on!
Julian West, Thurston
THANKS FOR SUPPORT YOU GIVE TO BUSINESS
Anyone who runs a small business will know that to thrive or even just to survive you have to continually adapt to whatever challenges are thrown your way. Challenges come in lots of different forms. Markets change, legislation changes (continually), tax obligations change. It was probably ever thus. However, in my time in business (more years than I care to say) I don’t believe there have never been more challenges for business
to deal with than at this current moment. In my experience virtually all business having to deal with a range of exceptional extra problems such as shortages of materials, staff shortages, rising costs and more paperwork to deal with (especially if, like us, you are an exporter) on top of the usual business uncertainties. As a business manager, it is easy to become absorbed in worrying about the problems and overlook any positives.
On behalf of my team here at Denny Bros I would like to express our appreciation to the Bury Free Press for providing us with a welcome reminder of the positives in the shape of your annual Business Awards. I am certain that organising the event each year is a lot of work and I believe this year was the 10th anniversary (which deserves an award in itself).
I would like to express our grateful thanks for organising the event and also for the on-going support, especially needed in these strange times, that you give to local business throughout the year.
Graham Denny, Managing Director, Denny Bros
WORKING HARD AS YOUR MP
Following the appalling murder of East of England MP Sir David Amess, who had served his constituents for 38 years, many people have been discussing the role of MPs and the way we interact with our communities.
Let me say at the outset I came into politics to help people. I have worked over the last six years to represent and support the community I live in with my family. Of course I know there will always be differences of opinion, but I always endeavour alongside my team to help anyone that needs it within the bounds of my role.
I have been voted into Parliament on three occasions. In 2019 with the highest majority in the history of the Bury St Edmunds seat whilst standing as Conservative candidate on a Conservative manifesto. I take this as a mandate for what the majority in our community wants and I therefore vote with the government to enact those policies.
I was asked in a recent letter published in this newspaper about my opinion on violence against women and girls. I have one simple answer – it is unacceptable. It illustrates out-of-date attitudes and prejudice and that is why there is a cross-governmental strategy to tackle this issue. This strategy highlighted that whilst there is not a specific offence of street harassment, there are a number of offences already in law that capture these behaviours. The Minister responsible stated that she is determined to ensure that effective laws are in place and that they work. Secondly, we must also educate young people and develop a concise policing strategy to ensure women feel safe wherever they live.
The letter goes on to suggest that I have not done anything to support the police force in Suffolk, when I have in fact worked hard to ensure Suffolk has received funding increases of up to £6.9 million for 2021-22 alongside the recruitment of 90 additional officers for Suffolk Police. The Labour councillor also accuses me and the government of ignoring a shortage of abattoir workers and issues in the pig industry. In fact, I spoke to farmers and the NFU locally and lobbied for action. The government has announced a range of measures to aid the pig industry including relaxation of regulations, temporary visas for pork butchers and a pork levy holiday.
I would also like to take this opportunity to respond to the other points in the letter. With regards to SEND provision in Suffolk, I welcomed the report shining a light on local provision. I have had a constant dialogue with Suffolk County Council and will continue to ensure they implement the recommendations to improve SEND provision in our county.
Additionally, I have met parents with concerns and in the past week have had a meeting with the leader of Suffolk County Council on this issue.
With regards to Universal Credit, this was always a temporary uplift to support individuals during the pandemic. I think it is vital that we help individuals into a well paid job, which is why I am pleased we have a number of work coaches in place across Suffolk helping constituents find employment. We have also recently announced a £500 million support fund which will be distributed to councils to help those most in need. I’m in no doubt that some of my constituents are having a tough time because I discuss it with them at surgeries or when meet them.
On dental provision in Bury St Edmunds, I am actively engaged with the Chief Dental Officer, Secretary of State for Health and the local commissioner to ensure we get better provision. The challenges are long-standing and stem from a poorly constructed contract put in place by the last Labour government. I will continue to push for improvements.
I am always happy to engage with any constituent in our community. I will continue to be visible in Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket, Needham Market and the villages. This includes visiting businesses, schools, charity events and walking around our market towns. As ever, if you need help or have any concerns you would like to discuss with me please email or write to me as I am here to help.
Jo Churchill, MP for Bury St Edmunds
TUNING IN TO SOUNDS OF PAST DECADES
On a fine Sunday, the chance was taken to drive through picturesque west Suffolk villages to visit a unique historical collection which is only normally open on a few occasions during the year.
Our destination was the pretty village of Monks Eleigh, with its fine, prominent hilltop church,village green surrounded by pastel perfect 16th century cottages and, on the corner of Church Hill and The Street, the fine Swan Inn of similar antiquity.
Prominently standing sentinel like upon the village green is a 150 year old cast iron village water pump, once the only source of water for the village. A traditional English village of character at its very best.
Around the corner, a short way along The Street, and next to the current United Reformed Church, is the former chapel building, now the home for many years, of the Sounds of the Past collection of mainly sound producing equipment from the last century.
The collection has been brought together by local resident Paul Goodchild and is the culmination of a 70-year interest in collecting radios and other sound equipment .Until a few years ago Paul had nowhere to house and display his collection, but he was offered the former chapel premises and he jumped at the chance. It has been a labour of love for Paul to adapt and decorate the building, but it is superb.
Paul greeted us when we entered what is really an ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ of sound equipment. Within a few moments I was taken back to my growing up, pre- television days, when a Philco Radio occupied a corner of our living room, receiving the BBC Home Service and Light Programmes, although my sister used to be able to get away with retuning the radio to Radio Luxembourg at the week- ends! I was especially interested in a large array of Ekco Radios; E K Cole Ltd manufactured these in Southend on Sea, and I had visited a small collection of Ekco radios in the Southend Museum there several years ago.
As well as radios of all shapes and sizes, there were Dansette transistor radios which I also remembered from earlier times, and Dansette Record players complete with the drop down arm which used to (hopefully) feed the next record from a stack on to the turntable, although not always successfully. Also, a then top-of-the-range Bang and Olufsen hifi which at the time was well outside my means. Televisions were there from the very earliest small screen used to view the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth the Second, to even a small miniature black and white TV which could be bought in the 1980s. There was, of course, a juke box and also an organ on which concerts could be given to a small audience,
Prize exhibit for me, however, and buried away amongst a collection of Brownie Box and Instamatic cameras was a slide film projector, of the exact type I would have used at County Hall in Ipswich in the late 1960s. Working in the Planning Section of the Clerks Department, one of my duties was to accompany the committee staff every month to the North Area Planning Committee in Lowestoft to operate the slide projector containing film of each planning application site and the proposed design elevations. Needless to say, the technology had its own idiosyncracies and did not always work as it should, or perhaps that was due to me.!
All through our visit Paul was on hand to talk to about the exhibits. The collection is only open on the first Sunday of each month, admission is free, but Paul does invite donations to Prostate Cancer Research. He is also a DJ and has just started post pandemic to organise rock and roll dances again.
A really interesting trip which bought back many memories.
Thank you Paul for having the initiative and determination to establish such a unique collection and share your enthusiasm with the public.
The pandemic has shown that interesting and unique experiences are indeed there within our fine county.
Graham Day, Stowmarket