Your letters and opinion, April 12
URGENT: ADDRESS THE PROBLEMS KILLING BURY
I operate a small minicab company in Bury St Edmunds at a time when passenger numbers are at an all-time low and making a living is becoming almost impossible. Yes, some of it is due to uncertainly caused by the Kindergarden we have for a Government, but mostly it’s Bury’s inability to cater for people. We are facing huge increases in operating costs, but absolutely nothing is being done to attract custom to Bury. In fact, exactly the opposite is happening.
Most cab drivers earn less than minmum wage, because for most of the day moving around Bury is virtually impossible. We have been plagued with massively disruptive roadworks for over five years, traffic lights all over the place, with more popping up every day, and plans to make accessibility to the town even more difficult.
Evening trade is all but dead as there is nowhere catering for the 25-plus customer. Even the Apex is in an area where no restaurants are open after 9.30pm on a Friday night.
It’s no wonder trade is dropping off rapidly and several cab drivers are on the point of giving up.
In the last 15 years we have lost a huge amount of parking, with yet another car park on Station Hill disappearing under flats.
Spring Lane is another place subject to development, and the area where some 400 Christmas Fayre exhibitors were parked last year has gone. Where will we park them this year? Ram Meadow? That leaves just about no available parking for the public with reasonable access to Angel Hill.
Plans for a new multi-storey have been abandoned, yet we are apparently taking away even more parking by pedestrianising the whole town Centre.
We need investment in access, roads and adult entertainment, otherwise the town will carry on dying. If people have difficulty getting into town through huge traffic queues, only to find there’s nowhere to park, why would they come into town? There’s a limit to how many coffee shops we can sustain.
WHO REMEMBERS TOWN’S PLAYHOUSE?
In your edition of March 29, 2019, there was a small paragraph on Page 5 saying that the former Argos store at 29 Buttermarket was to be made into flats and office space.
This building was once an entertainment hub for the town. It was The Playhouse, a cinema, with stage, built in 1924. The stage was important as it was to be the home for 34 years for productions by Bury St Edmunds Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society (BSEAODS) who had had to leave the Theatre Royal, where they had performed since 1903, because it closed in 1924 and became a barrel store for Greene King.
The amateurs put on many well-known operettas and Gilbert and Sullivan pieces at The Playhouse, as well as plays and even midnight matinées in aid of charity. So as well as the films, there were live performances, when the building rang with the tunes of the popular shows of that era: The Vagabond King, The Maid of the Mountains, Rose Marie, Merrie England, The Belle of New York, The Desert Song and many more.
I understand it had some 700 seats. If you go round the back into High Baxter Street, you can still see the fly-tower which would accommodate scenery being lifted from and to the setting on the stage.
The Playhouse closed in 1959 and BSEAODS’ last musical there was Brigadoon the same year [pictured]. After having to perform in school halls, BSEAODS helped the community with funds to re-open the Theatre Royal and, in 1964, gave the first production there after the closure – the Noël Coward play Blithe Spirit, which we are to repeat in the theatre’s 200th anniversary this year, from July 2 to 6 (now booking).
All these records are in the society archives, but I am sure others will remember The Playhouse and the happy times they had there.
Archivist, Bury St Edmunds Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society (BSEAODS)
CHIPPINGS ARE STILL ON THE LOOSE HERE
Concerning the potholes and dust in the parking area at the rear of my address, Fitzgerald Walk. (Bury Free Press, April 5, 2019, Page 41).
Havebury said it was cost-effective – in other words, a cheap job. The day after my neighbour complained about the loose chippings a roadsweeper did turn up, but it did not sweep the affected area. It parked up while four men with brooms and shovels swept some of it up, a small amount.
I have witnesses to prove that the roadsweeper did not sweep the area. I would like the person in charge to come and look at the problem with me.
(Previous chairman of the Westley Estate Association)
Our challenge to developer’s views
In the article ‘Needed or otterly misjudged? Home plan divides town’ (Bury Free Press, March 29, 2019, Page 35) there are some statements attributed to John Barham, the developer, that are incorrect and need to be challenged.
Mr Barham defends the proposed development as ‘not within the Green Belt’. No land is designated ‘Green Belt’ within Mid-Suffolk.
What Mr Banham did not state was that his proposed development is in the countryside, on Grade 2 ‘Best and most Versatile’ agricultural land, and within a designated Special Landscape Area (SLA).
Mr Barham comments that objections from his previous application for 56 houses on this site have been “copied and pasted”. The number of houses is unimportant in view of the sensitive ecological nature of this site; logically the objections will be similar: once it’s , it’s gone.
Mr Barham complains that objections have been received from people who live outside the area, however, this key location is at the entry route into Stowmarket for many visitors, and external comments are equally valid.
Finally, Mr Barham seems to feel persecuted by a perceived ‘Facebook posse’. On behalf of the 145
objectors to his plans, can I reassure Mr Barham that the objectors have no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram
organisation – every objection is motivated by a desire to prevent the damage that his proposals would cause to this fragile river valley and highly-valued local green space.
Judith and Steve Thompson
EU WORKERS SO IMPORTANT TO AREA
I was very pleased to see our local MP, Jo Churchill, promoting local tourist attractions on her Facebook pages recently. It’s so important to highlight an industry which makes up a large percentage of our local economy.
What isn’t so obvious is how these will fare in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Many people who work for tourist attractions and hospitality in general are from EU countries. We are fortunate to live here in that much of the food that is served in our restaurants and cafés is grown locally and harvested by hard-working people from the EU.
I know of one local farm that supplies fresh products such as spinach, garlic, basil, etc, and all the pickers are from Bulgaria and Romania. The farm owner is concerned that he will have trouble recruiting staff, as no local residents want to pick the food.
Many abattoir workers are from the EU, so even if farmers can supply all the animals that tourists want to eat when they visit here, who will slaughter the animals?
We have fantastic agriculture, tourist and hi-tech industries in and around Bury St Edmunds. We rely on our friends from EU countries to keep them going.
I would like Jo Churchill to acknowledge the importance of our EU workers in our tourist and hospitality industry and to support a people’s vote so we all have the democratic choice to consider our future now that we know what is involved in the event of Brexit, of any form.
Bury St Edmunds
WHERE WERE THE GIRLS AT SCIENCE EVENT?
Were there no girls at the recent Norfolk Science Week? (Bury Free Press, April 5, 2019, Page 13 ). It’s a pity that your photographer could only find boys enjoying the event.
The speaker was astronaut Helen Sharman OBE but, at a time when there is a national campaign to inspire girls to excel in STEM subjects, there doesn’t seem to have been an equal number of boys and girls taking part.
The organisers are said to be planning next year’s event already; perhaps this is something for them to think about.