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The planned closure of Bury's last two middle schools plus development proposals for sites in the town are among the topics covered by this week's mailbag.

CLOSURES WILL PUT CHILDREN UNDER STRESS

I am writing on behalf of all the family’s and children at Horringer Court Middle School and Westley Middle School to express our dismay at the proposed closures.

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

The timing could not be worse and the manner in which it is being done is shocking. The last two years has been unprecedented and the impact of the Covid-19 lockdowns and school closures has, and continues to, have a massive impact on children’s mental health. With many children suffering with anxiety, stress and other mental health disorders such as eating disorders and self harm, referrals are at an all time high and this situation is only going to get worse if the children go through any more change and upheaval. If Unity School Partnership could step into the shoes of any one of the parents for one moment they would see how significantly the children are suffering.

I cannot believe that supposed experienced educators and inspectorate personnel on the Unity board are wanting our children to go through more stress and disruption, especially the current Year 5 and 6 children who they propose to move school sites twice in two consecutive years. Children are worried about friendship groups, change of teachers, where the teachers they love will end up and the impact on their learning.

There are open days this week for both middle schools and we would like to urge current Year 4s to go along to see the smiling students, caring and knowledgeable staff and fantastic facilities both schools so proudly have. If intake numbers are up this September we hope the middle schools and all they stand for will remain. Fantastic pupil SEND support, great teachers, wonderful facilities and happy and dedicated students.

We feel that Unity should help Mrs Kennedy (County Upper headteacher) bring County Upper back to the wonderful standard it is capable of and, instead of making rash decisions, to actively promote the two ‘good’ middle schools.

There has been no promotion or support for the middle schools from Unity and before this consultation process started the middle schools were not even mentioned on their website, social media platforms or job vacancies page. This has now been rectified after it was pointed out to them. This begs us the question of whether Unity ever had any intention of working with and supporting the middle schools?

Please local and National MPs, councillors and parents, help us support the middle schools so that parents retain the freedom of choice and students are able to enjoy the three tier system. I know that my children, as is the same for many others, would have struggled tremendously going to a large secondary school in Year 7. At middle school they are thriving and gaining confidence at a fantastic rate.

To see our schools, please visit their websites www.horringercourt.org/ www.westleymiddle.org/ and go to their open events. They will fit in other times if you cannot make the evening.

To support this cause please sign the petition: ‘Now is not the time to disrupt our schools in Bury St Edmunds’ at www.change.org

Caroline Flack, via email

METAL TREES COULD GO ON ROUNDABOUTS

The discussion regarding the future of the infamous ‘metal trees’, as far as I can see, is noticeable by its absence. May I humbly suggest, that rather than let them erode away at their ‘secret location’, one placed in the middle of the roundabout at either end of Parkway might well solve the problem, and at the same time, not stick out like sore thumbs as they would if situated in the historical grid.

It would, of course, entail the removal of the statue of St Edmund from its present location in Parkway, to be possibly re-sited in the Abbey Gardens, which, I think, would have been a far more appropriate setting in the first place.

It’s only an idea, but at least it must be worthy of discussion and consideration, rather than the present deafening silence about the trees’ future .

What do other readers think?

Brian Davies, Bury St Edmunds

SITE SHOULD BE USED FOR NEW HOMES

It would be hard to think of a more unsuitable use of the former St Louis Middle School site than M&D Developments’ proposed car park (Bury Free Press, February 4).

The last thing Bury needs is to encourage more cars to come into the town centre along our already congested roads. Both West Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council have declared Climate & Environment Emergencies and have acknowledged the urgent need to reduce the pollution of our air by vehicle emissions which has been described as the greatest single threat to public health. What is needed, of course, are alternatives: park & ride, safe cycle lanes and footpaths and decent public transport.

Brownfield sites such as these should be used for housing. A report out this week has shown that new greenfield housing developments on the edge of towns are locking residents into car dependency, making everyday journeys impossible without a vehicle, not to mention continuing to cover our countryside with buildings. There is already planning permission for housing on this site. This planning consent should now be implemented, preferably for social or, at the very least, affordable houses for which the need continues to rise.

Julia Wakelam, Green Party Councillor Abbeygate Ward

OLD SCHOOL SITE IDEAL FOR HOUSING

Regarding the possible development of the St James’ Middle School site, in Bury St Edmunds (Bury Free Press, January 29). Brilliant news. What a lovely setting for homes and apartments, what a lovely place to live in Bury St Edmunds.

I have been asking what is happening with St James’ old school, with its tennis courts and playing field - it has stood empty for so long.

I know it belongs to the church, but I am sure it will make good use of the money.

It will be such an improvement to that area.

Good luck to the developers. I may even think about moving!

Monica Ames, Bury St Edmunds

NO FREE NHS COVER FOR CHILDREN

Copy of an open letter sent to Jo Churchill MP:

I am sure that you have received many letters in regard to the subject I would like to speak about, but I feel so strongly about this that I feel the need to write to you.

I was told by my dentist today, in Bury, that they would no longer treat my 11-year-old daughter under the NHS and I would now have to pay for her treatment. I have had no choice but to pay for private treatment for myself for some years, which I have grudgingly accepted, but I feel incensed that I have to pay for my child.

Every child should be entitled to NHS dental care in their local area.

I work for a primary school in a deprived area and a large percentage of these children have poor dental hygiene, with us have to purchase toothpaste and tooth brushes for them to use at school.

The majority of dentists are now not treating children under the NHS and there will be a large number of parents who will not be in a position to pay for their child’s dental care, this generation of children are going to grow up with bad teeth, costing the NHS money when they are older with numerous dental problems.

I have rung around 20 surgeries today, not just in Bury but further afield, and none are taking on children under the NHS. I think that this is disgusting to be honest. All children should be able to access free dental care.

I am in a fortunate position to be able to pay for my child’s private dental care, but many are not. Something needs to be done about this and fast.

Name and address supplied

DUCHESS’ KINDNESS TO DESERT RATS

One of the many tasks her Majesty the Queen has carried out celebrating her Platinum Jubilee is to declare that HRH Duchess of Cornwall is to be the Queen consort when Prince Charles becomes king.

This is a wonderful thing to have been awarded and shows once again how Her Majesty is aware of the great achievements of the Duchess in supporting her husband since their marriage. When I first had dealings with the Duchess of Cornwall, the public had quite a different view, but having met and worked with the Duchess for many years l can assert that she is a truly remarkable person. As former chairman and now vice-president of the Desert Rats Association, I can attest to the many many kindnesses to her Desert Rats, as the Duchess accepted the position as our patron.

Our oldest rat passed last year aged 108, and almost all will be over 100 – letters sent to hospital, flowers sent to funerals, phone calls to veterans and relatives always in the kindest terms, Christmas cards to not just veterans but also to association members,

This Christmas, the Duchess discovered I was particularly vulnerable to Covid and sent a beautiful letter telling me to take the greatest care. I therefore could not speak too highly of this amazing lady and know better than most that our beloved Queen has blessed us all by making our Duchess Queen consort when the time comes

God save the Queen.

Rodney William Scott BEM, Vice-president Desert Rats Association

HUB PARKING WILL NOT BE ADEQUATE

Regarding the proposed public service hub in Olding Road, Bury – what a wonderful idea to put all the essential facilities in one place. This used to happen years ago when people travelled by bus to their nearest town or city for shopping etc and was still happening in Bury when I arrived in Suffolk nearly 20 years ago.

However, it was decided that all council offices should be moved to ‘somewhere more accessible’, with no bus route and a fair walk outside of town and only readily available to those with a car. Now they have decided that all the facilities should be together again, because we all wish to visit the leisure centre when we need to see the Police, or to visit the council offices when we visit the local medical centre.

However, there will not be adequate parking for all the cars that will need to be driven to get there – the current car park is inadequate for even a trip to the council offices already, never mind all the other facilities that are to be housed there. Except, of course, we can get there by bus – if there was a bus available?Other than school buses, I have yet to see a regular bus in this area, and certainly none from the outer reaches of Bury in the small villages that have had their regular bus services axed.

Do the people in charge ever think of the consequences of their actions or are they too enthralled by being ‘at the centre of things’?

Janet Simmons, Bury St Edmunds

JO, LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT PM

Copy of an open letter to Jo Churchill:

As you will know, the Bury Free Press (February 4) informed its readers: “A number of readers have sent copies of open letters to Jo Churchill regarding Boris Johnson. Here are a few of them.”

There were seven letters published, all fiercely critical of the PM. Well, if seven was a few, there seems to have been something of a flood. Perhaps it’s time for you to listen to the concerns of your constituents and let them know your position on the PM’s suitability to remain in high office.

I would like to ask you, as my MP to ‘publicly respond’ to these three questions:

i) Should the Prime Minister publish the full Sue Gray report?

ii) If the Metropolitan Police’s investigation finds the wrongdoing warrants a fixed penalty notice, should the Prime Minister be fined –and if so does the public have a right to know?

iii) Should the Prime Minister remain in his position?

Eddie Dougall, Walsham le Willows

-- Email your letters to: letters@buryfreepress.co.uk