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Bury Free Press readers' opinions

Town politics, planning and some praise for the Theatre Royal are among this week's letters.


Once again the pages of last week’s Bury Free Press were full of stories about residents’ problems with parking and traffic management in the town.

Letters to the editor (43414942)
Letters to the editor (43414942)

There is a common theme running through these stories: a county council which doesn’t listen to residents.

Take the current consultations on cycling provision. The main changes have already been made, cycle routes have been hastily painted on to roads, and bike racks have sprung up in a couple of locations. It only takes a casual glance to see that the cycle racks are barely used.

Or there’s the cycle lane marked out by plastic wands – yes, they really are called wands – along one side of Risbygate Street. Having cycled along this myself, I can only advise other cyclists not to. It is poorly thought out, especially where the cycle lane abruptly disappears alongside the traffic island half way up. This is an accident waiting to happen. And the parking which once allowed people access to the businesses on that side of Risbygate Street has now gone. Not ideal if you have a cello to take to the music shop for repair, for instance.

Then there’s the other problem: getting back out of town. There isn’t a cycle lane on the other side of the road. Hardly joined up thinking.

Now Suffolk County Council wants to block roads around the Victoria Street area, creating cul-de-sacs and forcing residents to drive further to leave their streets. As Eastgate ward councillor, I helped campaign against a similarly ill-thought out scheme in Cannon Street, which was finally put on hold. None of these schemes will help cyclists – there isn’t much through traffic anyway – but they will create more congestion on the remaining through roads.

Let me be clear: I am a keen and enthusiastic cyclist. I welcome improvements in cycling provision. Yet I know many people who won’t cycle in Bury St Edmunds because they consider it too dangerous. Sadly, the schemes we’ve had imposed on us do nothing to improve things.

I’m also a motorist. Like many people I prefer to walk or cycle, but the fact is that I have to use the car for shopping or when I’m pressed for time. Many residents have to use their car – young parents with children, or people who physically can’t walk or cycle. The county council’s plans set up a false conflict between cyclists and drivers. The fact is, we’re the same people, just at different times in the week.

So how have we come to this? It seems that central government has decreed that councils must spend cash on these schemes, and in short order – or they lose the funding.

Instead of listening to local people and building durable and useful solutions to real problems, the county council instead blindly follows what their political master in Downing Street dictates. So many of Johnson’s failed schemes as Mayor of London have become infamous for their sheer waste of money – the floating airport, or the garden bridge spring to mind. Now he’s pushing his friends in local government in the same crazy direction.

The solution? In May next year there are elections to the county council. We need to vote for councillors who will listen to us residents, not toe the latest party line passed down from above.

Cllr Cliff Waterman, Eastgate ward, West Suffolk Council


Following recent correspondence from Andrew Speed and Mike Garling, I am left wondering whether local Tories are losing the plot or just making mischief.

Both correspondents have accused Labour’s town councillors of not spending enough of ratepayers’ money. I have to say that’s a first. Usually Labour is accused of spending way too much. But I guess that all changed when Boris Johnson found his own ‘magic money tree’. But what is even more puzzling about this attack is that the council in question has been led by a Conservative administration since the local elections in May 2019.

If there is any criticism to be made surely it should be of their own party who have the ability to vote through any proposals that come forward on the town council. Furthermore, Andrew and Mike both list many service areas that require investment in the town. And on this I would agree. However, what they neglect to say is that the areas they have listed fall largely into the remit of Suffolk County Council and West Suffolk District Council. Both of which are Conservative led.

So the responsibility for shortcomings in service (and I agree there are many) must logically sit with them.

It’s all very puzzling but I guess it may have something to do with forthcoming local elections next year.

At this rate I wouldn’t be surprised if next week we receive a letter suggesting that Labour is responsible for the mismanagement of the pandemic and the economy.

Richard O’Driscoll, Bury St Edmunds


A spirited letter from Mike Garling (Bury Free Press, December 11); unfortunately, in his ardour, he confuses where the original mention of J Corbyn came from (A Speed’s letter) with the responses from two sources; one from the Labour Party which, as a group, has only had any real influence for a short time and the other from a member of the public. He then goes on to list all the things that need doing and yet disregards the fact that the Conservatives have been in control of the country for the last 10 years and in control of local administrations, town, borough and county for considerably longer.

For Mr Garling, these facts count for nought; everything is the Labour Party’s fault. For his information, in case he is unaware, ‘Austerity’ measures were implemented by the Conservatives and is the reason so much societal and civic infrastructure is in disrepair and needs funds for rebuilding but, as the Labour Councillors rightly point out, not without due diligence and scrutiny to make sure value-for-money is achieved – something that is blatantly lacking in present governmental practices. For anyone congratulating Mike Garling for putting pen to paper highlighting all that needs to be done, the question must arise as to why he is not a councillor? Independent, of course.

Malcolm Searle, Bury St Edmunds


How sad that a minority of individuals from Fornham All Saints are unable to support the addition of a few holiday lodges at The Suffolk Hotel complex; rather they cling to a very selfish and outdated attitude. The location of a few holiday lodges discretely placed as far away from the Fornhams as you could get; causes no interference or inconvenience to anyone .

Those who reside there can have no genuine reason for objecting to this addition to the development of a first class leisure complex. This complex, when finished, will be an asset to the whole area, providing facilities for the whole region and for all ages. In addition visitors will be welcomed who in turn will be of benefit to the whole town. What a contrast in attitudes is shown here. On the one hand you have the few selfish individuals from Fornham, on the other an owner of The Suffolk allowing hundreds of National Health service people free access to his facilities during this difficult time.

We should not be guided by a few selfish, narrow minded individuals who do not represent a majority of people who live in the Bury St Edmunds region. Be proud of what is developing at The Suffolk and support it.

Peter Plumb, via email


We have just returned from being among the 50 or 60 privileged locals to have witnessed and enjoyed the splendid (dress rehearsal) performance of A Christmas Carol on Angel Hill by the sorely tried Theatre Royal teams and their new director.

A Christmas Carol was a tour de force. Deprived of their comfort zone of the Theatre Royal stage but helped by the Angel Hotel, Churchgates, town council and other supporters and sponsors, they contrived to give us a technically faultless production (we both normally use hearing aids, but heard every word thanks to their clever technology) and despite the sad and most difficult year we have all endured, they managed to transmit an ambience of Christmas goodwill, and pantomime, which is hugely to their credit.

We urge any locals who have not already done so, to go online and see if they can get tickets.

Bravo theatre Royal teams; bravo new director; please, readers of the BFP get your tickets and give them your support. They’ve earned it.

Gordon and Judith Cawthorne, Bury St Edmunds


For the past few years, during the afternoon of Christmas Day, Bury St Edmunds Quakers have opened their Meeting House on St John’s Street to offer refreshments and quiet companionship to those who might be alone.

Sadly, this year, due to the Covid-19 crisis, we are not able to do this, but want those who would have joined us to know that we are thinking of them.

Graham Gosling, Bury St Edmunds Quakers


I don’t know why Pauline Judge (Letters, December 11) is so surprised motorists seem to

think they can park where they like in Bury and speed whenever they like too.

I have been asking the council and police to do something about the drivers who regularly use the pedestrian areas next to Wetherspoons and the road between the town and the arc.

There are signs saying its for pedestrians, taxis and buses only but either most motorists can’t read, in which case they shouldn’t be on the road, or they can happily ignore the signs knowing the chances of being caught are very small.

What we need is someone to have the strength to pedestrianise the town, like Ipswich and Cambridge.

It would make the whole shopping experience much better, and would be good for the environment too.

But along with this the council need to offer more alternatives, like park and ride or more buses

And most importantly there needs to be much stricter enforcement of the rules

Gary Phillips, Bury St Edmunds

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