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To reach goals, we need long-term plan

We need to see a proper, costed, long-term plan for investment in buses and space for cycling and walking in Hadleigh and Sudbury before car parking charges for car drivers can be implemented.

The danger is that without that, any income raised from car park charging will disappear into general funding and that long-desired investment in buses, cycling and walking will never materialise.

letters (43957179)
letters (43957179)

There has been virtually no investment in active travel in the past decade by Babergh, so there is little trust among the public that it will happen now.

The Green group believes the council is doing things in the wrong order. We need a long-term strategic review of transport across Babergh, looking at the policies we need to implement in order to achieve net zero carbon by 2030.

The Suffolk Climate Change Partnership, of which Babergh is part, has proposed that a reduction of 25 per cent car use in Suffolk is required to get to net zero by 2030. It is building consensus amongst the business community for this target.

To get there will require Babergh to produce a 10-year plan to invest in public transport, cycling, walking and car sharing, so that people have an alternative to car use.

Rather than produce such a plan, however, Babergh has drawn up an apparently hastily written report which seeks to introduce charging in some of its car parks this summer.

The report also worryingly makes mention of future plans for multi-storey car parks, something that would encourage yet more car driving and destroy the unique atmosphere of both Hadleigh and Sudbury.

The lack of long-term vision in the council’s transport proposals comes despite the fact that its elected councillors have at least three times voted for long-term strategic transport plans to be produced.

In July, councillors unanimously passed a motion calling on Babergh to ensure there was “officer resource for a costed cycling strategy.” This has still not happened.

In October 2019, the council passed a motion calling for a “review of car and cycle parking provision in Sudbury and Hadleigh to identify what level of capacity will be needed.” Fifteen months later, this has still not happened and no date appears to be fixed for it.

In July 2019, the council voted to adopt a goal to reduce carbon emissions across the county – not just the council’s own emissions – to net zero by 2030.

Transport emissions from private cars are the single largest emission source in Suffolk.

Robert Lindsay

Green Party county and district councillor (Cosford)

High Street, Bildeston

Store was a great help with campaign

I refer to the letter sent in by Hazel Barnard in the Free Press of December 31.

It was indeed a sad day when Winch & Blatch closed its doors for the last time.

For years, it had been supplying our charity with shoe boxes. It was Francesca Davies who gave each member of staff a £10 boots voucher as a thank you for all their help.

Francesca is registered blind and has lost her sight but always felt at home in Winch & Blatch and will miss it terribly.

We sent more than 200 filled shoe boxes this year to children who are less fortunate. Each box had a hat, scarf and gloves, notebook, pens and colouring pencils, a ball, soft toy, a wash bag with soap, toothbrush, toothpaste and flannel and a packet of sweets. We would not have been able to do so many without the Winch & Blatch providing so many shoe boxes for us to use.

Now that the store is shut, it will be a struggle to collect so many. Perhaps people could keep them for us and we could create somewhere to store them safely?

We are also on the lookout for wool. We have several knitters and a local knitting group help knit the hats, scarves and gloves that go into the boxes.

If anyone has any wool they can spare, please contact myself or Francesca Davies on 01787 880364.

Maxine Leathers

Fields View

Sudbury

Where did this man get such strength?

Listening to a recent radio interview with Terry Waite certainly opened my eyes to the privation and torture on an unimaginable scale suffered by the man whose sole object of visiting Lebanon in the first place was to secure the release of imprisoned journalist John McCarthy.

We (myself included) are full of what we can’t do, where we can’t go, and who we can’t see for but a few days, perhaps even months.

Yet this man suffered an interminable five long years isolated, shackled, in total darkness and almost starved to death – all the while under the constant threat of execution.

Where did this incredible man get such strength to exit such an ordeal with his sanity in tact and seemingly without any bitterness? God knows.

Brian Davies

Bury St Edmunds

Local figures give us a better perspective

Once again, I found your coverage of the extent of the spread of the Covid-19 virus (Free Press, January 7) very helpful and informative.

You provided detail of the number of positive test results recorded in the week up to December 31 in named villages or groups. This information was extremely interesting and informative.

Every day, by TV, press and/or radio, we are swamped with massive numbers of confirmed infections, hospital admissions and deaths.

The numbers are so huge (61,000 confirmed infections in one day, for example) that they lose any impact in our rural settings and locations. Fifty-three in Sudbury in seven days puts the problem in much better perspective.

May I suggest that you continue to inform your readers every week of the statistics; they will help us better understand our true position in real time.

Perhaps also, if you can obtain the details, inform your readers each week of the situation at West Suffolk Trust Hospital in terms of admissions, ICU beds available and occupied, and keep us informed with the progress of the vaccination campaign in the Sudbury area and your readership catchment area.

I hope this is of interest.

Graham Berger

Great Waldingfield

Editor’s note: Thanks for taking the time to get in touch, Graham. We will certainly do our best to keep you informed over the coming weeks and months.

A good kick up the backside is needed

In my youth, and throughout my adult life in Sudbury, we have always enjoyed free parking.

However, I do question the recent fracas between the district and town council on the issue.

Whilst I do not agree with the suggested parking charges, my reasons for objection differ somewhat to the norm. I fail to see what any local business gains from free parking.

I have witnessed the failure of so many innovative businesses, especially of late, and this is not due to car parking charges; it is due to the increase in internet shopping, the huge increase in charity shops, and the unfair and punitive charges in business rates.

Add to that the bad decisions made by our town council, and the cash wasted by Babergh, and the reasons for businesses failing are clear.

Shoppers will not visit our town unless there are a variety of shops offering good service, products and a selection of goods.

At present, Sudbury can offer none of the above.

All the town can offer to a shopper is a variety of haircuts, umpteen cups of coffee and disgusting public toilets; that is simply not good enough to entice shoppers from other towns.

Ipswich, Colchester and Bury St Edmunds all charge for parking, and they all seem to be doing alright. Sudbury needs a good kick up the backside; it needs to wake up and realise the town is not as wonderful as so many think it is.

Sudbury is a decent town, but it has a closed mind. That mind needs to be opened.

Bob Darvell

Orchard Place

Sudbury

We need true picture of what people want

Here we go again. This will be my seventh or eighth time of debating and voting on proposals to introduce car park charges in our market towns. It seems to come around every two or three years.

Over the years, I have continued to argue that we need to save as many car parking spaces in Sudbury town centre as we can. I have many letters and emails to support this.

Having seen the sketches and supporting documents in the town council’s Ambitions for Sudbury Town Centre [a document setting out plans to redevelop the area and improve prosperity], I see that this plan provides bus stops, disabled parking spaces, taxi ranks and parking spaces for ordinary motorists – all to boost turnover in our shops.

These are the only plans that the town council has voted in favour of since their adoption in 2018. This plan acknowledges the importance of providing parking for ordinary motorists.

I’d like to see more parking spaces, but the proposed capacity is a compromise which I might be able to support if there is provision for one hour’s free parking.

In my motion regarding parking provision in Sudbury, Hadleigh and other areas of Babergh at a meeting of the district council on October 22, 2019, I asked for a full and detailed review of parking, but I was careful to clarify that this did not include proposals to introduce further fees.

To date, I have not been involved in any official reviews, discussions or meetings to change policy decisions on this issue.

It would appear, therefore, that the new proposals around pedestrianisation and the removal of parking are the work of officers – not ones that have been democratically arrived at.

Whatever happens, we need a proper and full consultation process: not just online but also a paper-based survey so as to include those deprived of online access by the digital divide.

And such a survey should certainly not be conducted at the eleventh hour. It should be made available to all shops in the town and readily available at the town hall, post offices and those parishes within Sudbury’s catchment.

In this way, we will get a true picture of what the public think and need. And this should not just be a box-ticking process on the way towards a preconceived outcome.

We Babergh councillors should help encourage people to use our shops and support our traders in Sudbury; we certainly should not provide incentives to go to other towns.

We can support Sudbury‘s businesses, jobs and the local economy, as is the district council’s obligation if we continue to provide free parking in town, on Market Hill, North Street as well as elsewhere.

Peter Beer

District and county councillor for Great Cornard

Inscription led me to uncover tragedy

I’d appreciate your readers’ help in finding out more about what happened after the tragic events that took place at Sudbury station on November 30, 1916.

The Suffolk and Essex Free Press dated December 6 of that year carries the full details of what it describes as The Double Fatality at the Railway Station, where the ticket collector, Charles Hayward, and Company Sergeant Major (CSM) Thomas Theobald were both killed.

CSM Theobald, who had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), had come with his father to see off his younger brother, Private Herbert Theobald, who was returning to France.

It appears that Private Theobald did not want to get on the train. His father and brother urged him to board and had a change of heart, trying to board the train as it began to move.

A scuffle ensued, where Mr Hayward tried to prevent Private Theobald from boarding, which resulted in Mr Hayward and CSM Theobald being dragged along between the footboard and the platform.

The train was stopped and it was discovered that CSM Theobald had died. Mr Hayward was badly injured and taken first to the Bear Hotel, then to St Leonard’s Hospital, where he died soon after admission.

Charles Hayward was the brother of my great-great-grandmother, Laura Louisa Harmer (nee Hayward). I believe Charles had two daughters, Elsie and Lettie. I would love to know if there are any descendants of Elsie and Lettie still living in the area.

Charles is buried in Sudbury cemetery; it was finding the inscription on his grave that put me on the trail of this sad event.

I don’t have any family photos of Charles; the picture above is of his parents, William and Matilda Hayward, who were silk weavers and who lived in Inkerman Row.

The citation for CSM Theobald’s Distinguished Conduct Medal reads: 6385 CSM M.G.W. Theobald 2nd Bn. For conspicuous gallantry on several occasions, notably when he manned a crater immediately after the enemy had exploded a mine and himself brought into safety many wounded men under heavy fire. (15.3.16)

It would be interesting to know if there are any descendants of the late CSM Theobald or Private Theobald still in the area.

I can be contacted by email at jane.sleight@hotmail.co.uk.

Jane Sleight

by email

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