Readers’ Letters November 4

Readers’ letters from the November 4 issue of the Observer.

READERS WILL have seen in a recent issue of the Observer your coverage of the public meeting held on September 20, about the future of the Fernleigh Centre, which has been placed on the open market by the county council.

I thought readers might like to know that the meeting is being taken forward by positive action.

It was agreed that a charitable trust should be formed and proposals have been sent to the Charity Commission.

A board is in the process of being formed, and a funding opportunity is already being pursued.

Briefly all avenues are being explored to create a viable organisation which could manage the centre if the county council can be persuaded to change its mind about the sale.

There are two things that we would ask of your readers at present.

First, that they write either to their local county councillor, or the council leader, Louise Goldsmith or the finance portfolio holder, Michael Brown, both c/o County Hall.

We want the county members to appreciate public opposition to the proposed sale, the importance of the contribution which Fernleigh has made and can make to the local community, and the support that there is to an independent trust being given the opportunity to acquire and manage the building.

We would hope also that past users of Fernleigh would write if they consider alternative accommodation to which they have transferred to be inadequate.

Secondly, we would like to hear from local residents who are able to assist the proposed trust, particularly if they have skills which would be valuable in the formation period.

Please contact the interim chairman, Steve Taylor on Chichester 539353 or at www.fernleigh communitytrust.org.uk

I can understand that readers might feel that the county council’s decision is ‘done and dusted’.

However, back in 1998, the council was intent on closing Lodge Hill, the youth residential facility near Pulborough.

An independent trust was formed which acquired the premises and continues to run it successfully to this day – to the benefit of youth across the county.

What has been achieved before can be done again!

Howard Morgan, Kensington Road, Chichester

I HAVE recently learned of the intention to sell the Fernleigh Centre by WSCC.

I think this would be a great loss to Chichester – there are precious few facilities for community groups in Chichester, especially those aimed at young people who used to use this centre actively before it was closed down by WSCC last year.

I appreciate that in these financially-straitened times the council may not have the funds to do the work necessary to bring it up to date, but rather than sell it (to become what? Offices/flats?) how about the council steps aside and allows the community to raise the funds and run it for the benefit of the community?

A community group, Fernleigh Community Trust, has formed to try to do this, please visit the website: www.fernleighcommunitytrust.org.uk to find out more.

Tom Broughton, Chichester

RECENTLY THERE was yet another accident on the Earnley bends.

Sadly, on this occasion, someone was killed.

I am not aware of the circumstances of this particular accident and as to whether my comments below have any bearing.

However, I thought it was appropriate to raise my concerns when minds are concentrated by this tragic loss of life.

Is it not time the highway authorities looked at just what the problem is on these bends?

Yes, I know, excess speed is the main contributing factor and on the bend adjacent to Tile Barn Lane I would suggest that is probably the only factor.

On the bend at the junction with Bookers Lane there are other conditions to be considered.

Some decades back, probably at least three, the road surface was upgraded to provide a better camber and it did make things better for drivers.

But in doing so there was a water stopcock that was covered up.

So before the tarmac was hardly set, along came the water company who dug up the new surface to bring the stopcock up to the surface.

Okay, that was fine, but as time went on a depression started to occur – and it is still there today.

Some five or six years ago I complained to the highway authorities which resulted in the water company filling the depression.

However, the water company did not completely remove it as the workers only attended to the immediate area.

This depression is noticeable to anyone driving over it along this road.

In my opinion, this is one of the factors involved and when combined with excess speed the front of the vehicle becomes unstable.

Drivers then end up in the nearside hedge or ditch and if the rear is affected they end up on the opposite side of the road – quite often striking the concrete post and rails protecting the ditch.

Don Emerick, Bracklesham

I DO not condone bad driving, but why should Mr Lanchester be allowed to capture your headlines on the front page of the October 21 edition?

I believe there is a dedicated cycle route along the disused railway line from West Dean to virtually the centre of the city and he and other cyclists should use this facility, built at considerable cost, thus avoiding danger to them and frustration from other road users.

Johnny Talbot, Itchenor

I SAY again to those whingers ref Vintage – for goodness sake, buy a couple of cheap silicone taps, stuff ‘em in yer ears, then get a good night’s sleep and let others enjoy.

Easy!

Tony Spillard, Palmers Field Avenue, Chichester

JOHN HUTCHINGS (Letters, Oct 21) tries hard to defend the Catholic Church.

For a different perspective readers are referred to The Case of the Pope by Geoffrey Robertson, QC – recently published by Penguin and available through the public library service.

This is (among other things) a stinging expose of the long-running sex abuse scandal; and from it the Church, its priests and bishops and, above all, its head Pope Benedict emerge decidedly tarnished.

Given the circumstances, many feel that the rather sycophantic behaviour of both the British establishment and the British media during the recent papal visit to this country was – to say the least – a mistake.

Tim Hudson, Hawthorn Close, Chichester

RE THE recent repairs to the footbridge over the A27 at Bognor Road roundabout.

I was held up in the utter chaos that ensued due to these bridge repairs.

As always, our dear council failed to make proper arrangements to warn people sufficiently in advance or to make proper alternative arrangements so as to minimise disruption.

That never changes with this bunch, but perhaps more important is the question: Does anyone ever use this stupid bridge?

In all of the years I have been driving under it (at least twice every day, often more ever since it was built) I have NEVER seen anyone using it.

A total waste of taxpayer’s money?

Terry Russell, Bognor Road, Chichester

WHAT A fuss about Christmas lights!

I won’t miss these dull excuses for Christmas cheer strung up year in, year out without change or imagination.

Until this year they have gone up in October (October!) and been taken down in late January – a full month after Christmas.

Why not borrow from the Germans, the Danes, for example, who not only put up quality decorations but only decorate their streets for a short period, not a three-month nonsense?

This enforced jollity points to a nation who seem only to function if having a festive season to over-indulge in.

Restaurants advertise their Christmas menus in August, shops are filled with Christmas goods from September, the season extended from what should be a matter of weeks to long, drawn-out months.

Christmas is fun and a celebration.

But can it be far shorter, less hysterical and rather more quality-led?

Poppy Guest, Orchard Street, Chichester

BEING AS disappointed as everyone else over the decision not to have any Christmas lights this year in Chi, I would like to say thank you to those businesses prepared to put some money in the pot.

Is it possible for the Observer to publish the names of those who were prepared to pay, every week until Christmas, and for us all to only shop at those stores?

I don’t want to ‘blacklist’ those who were not prepared to make a donation, but to be positive and help those that were prepared to brighten our shopping evenings.

Frank Lane, Chichester

JUST A a thought, but how about all the Chichester shops buy a lantern or two and light them with candles and hang them outside their shops?

Small outlay – and would look beautiful.

They could be hung outside each afternoon, and you take them in each evening when your shop closes.

Just an idea!

Penny Stephens, Chichester

SIMPLE – I usually go to Chichester to shop, but I will do my Christmas shopping elsewhere.

I always let my feet do the talking.

I hope others follow.

B Merlin Chichester

WHILE I wish the Rotarians every success in their yuletide fundraising, I think it inappropriate that £1,500 of taxpayers’ money is to be wasted illuminating their Christmas tree.

If, despite these austere times, there is that sort of money to be thrown around, why not donate the money directly to the Rotarians?

What many of your correspondents have failed to grasp is that any non-essential expenditure is likely to attract the attention of those who would reason, correctly, that if there was money to be wasted on festive exuberance than there would be good cause to select the council for further budget cuts.

I suspect that, far from the doomsayers’ predictions, the streets of Christmastime Chichester will be bursting with the usual torrent of frenzied shoppers.

As one of your correspondents correctly pointed out, there are are far better and more needy causes that should have priority.

It is time for the city to get a grip on financial reality and put an 
end to this wasteful civic farce once and for all.

Paul Cresswell, Merryweather Road, Old Bosham

ARE OTHER supermarkets going to follow Waitrose’s decision and enable customers to have the choice not to buy ‘halal’ meat?

Customers have the right to know if the meat they are buying has been slaughtered using the halal process.

A national newspaper wrote at length recently about this issue.

It would appear that the RSPCA also has concerns.

Animals going into the food chain for consumption should be killed humanely.

Once again, it appears to come down to ‘MONEY.’

Apparently, the ‘halal’ process costs less.

I would prefer to pay a little more and be assured animals have not suffered.

For those who want halal meat, fair enough, but I am sure the majority of us, do not.

Unless we speak out, we, the customers, will be ignored.

C Bullen, Church Road,Chichester

I AM beginning to get the impression that Chichester District Council is about to make a decision on the dog control order in Fishbourne without having studied all of the facts.

It should have detailed information available to be able to make informed decisions on behalf of all of us.

Hopefully, the extracts below from the ‘Solent recreation and disturbance project winter bird survey first year report’ might help.

This survey – ‘Did not attempt to include effects of recreational use on birds using terrestrial and wetland habitats inland of the coast – for instance farmer’s fields, playing fields, grazing marshes and freshwater wetlands.

‘All events, for example numbers of walkers (with or without dogs) within the count sector, were recorded even if they did not illicit any obvious behavioural response from the birds present’.

I would like to know what evidence the council has before it regarding the sewage discharge from the Apuldram sewage works and its effects on the feeding and roosting of the birds in the area?

There are two authorities that have a stake holding regarding this area – the district and county councils – if they have no choice but to accept money from the Grayingwelll developers via a 106 agreement surely it could be put to better use than an unwanted unneeded expensive dog warren?

How about a fence round the sensitive areas?

The country council does own the land and has done nothing about maintaining the fence at the top of the channel for five years – but please, no more barbed wire!

More dog poo bins, dog poo bag dispensers – it works well at East Head.

We need signs to alert visitors with and without dogs about the significance of this SPA area.

Maybe the council thinks a dog control order is the easier solution to pacify the people at the habitats’ directive.

Tim Meyer, Fishbourne Road East, Fishbourne

I WAS very sad to read about the damage to trees outside the Scope Centre in Little Breach.

Were they, I wonder,damaged by the same hooligans who smashed the seat at the bus stop nearby a month or so back?

I sincerely hope that this damage is no a reflection on the number of student-occupied houses in Little Breach and that the principals of the higher education establishments in our city encourage their students to respect the local environment.

Maybe they could be encouraged to raise funds to help Scope replace these trees?

J Christison, Woodlands Lane, Chichester

WE WERE delighted that National Park Authorities were spared the axe in the recent government spending review.

This was particularly important for the South Downs where the nascent National Park Authority has not yet taken up its full functions and is thus unable to demonstrate how it will bring added value to the local economy and the communities it serves. However it is equally important that, having agreed that National Park Authorities have a function to perform, their funding by the government is sufficient for them to undertake the purposes for which they were established.

While, in light of the Comprehensive Spending Review, this funding may not be all that might have been desired, it would be a tragedy for all those who fought for many years to have a National Park created if the government appeared to be trying to kill it by stealth through inadequate resources.

Robert Cheesman, Chairman, South Downs Society

DID YOU know we old folks are worth a fortune?

We have silver in our hair, gold in our teeth, stones in our kidneys, lead in our feet and gas in our stomachs!

I have become older since I saw you last and a few changes have come into my life.

Frankly, I have become a frivolous old woman!

I am seeing six gentlemen every day.

As I wake up Will Power helps me out of bed, then I go to see Jimmy Riddle, and then it’s time for breakfast with Mr Kellogg followed closely by the refreshing company of Mr Tetley, or my other friend who I only know by his initials – PG!

Then comes someone I don’t like at all – Arthur Itis – he knows he’s not welcome but he insists on being here, and what is more, he stays for the rest of the day.

Even then he does not like to stay in one place and he takes me from joint to joint.

After such a hectic day I am glad to get to bed (and with Johnny Walker too!) What a hectic life.

Oh yes, I am now flirting with Al Zhiemer!

The vicar came to call the other day and said that at my age I should be thinking of the hereafter.

I told him I did – all the time.

For no matter where I am, the bedroom, the kitchen, the sitting room or the garden, I ask myself: ‘Now what am I here after?’

Well, I’ll close now and hope that Will Power is your constant companion too – but do make sure that his friend, Emma Royd, does not creep up on your from behind.

And watch out for that crafty one – Gerry Atric.

Mike Boddy, Bracklesham Bay

(Submitted by a senior lady – my mother)

RE MR Andrew Tyrie MP and Nocton Dairies.

Just what does one have to do to get a response from our MP?

Several times I have contacted him recently without response and in particular I asked him to attend (a few minutes would have been enough) a reception held by Austen Mitchell MP in which objections to the proposed 8,000-cow dairy in Lincolnshire were raised.

Needless to say he was not there, though I was.

What is this to do with the people of West Sussex?

Well, this could be a blueprint for the UK dairy industry.

Do we really want factory-farmed cattle, enclosed for virtually the whole of their lives in barns hundreds of metres long, milked three times a day, fed vast amounts of concentrated food (cows eat grass and the European Food Safety Authority has recently confirmed that their health can suffer if they have no access to pasture)?

The animals would be prey to increased mastitis, and lameness, with infertility problems as they are pushed to their physiological limit.

And that is before we start to talk about the environmental difficulties – slurry – there will be enough produced to rival the amount of the city of Bristol, smell, flies, bawling as the cow mourns her calf which will be taken from her in the first few days of its life, increased traffic movement etc – all adding up to a huge lessening of the quality of life for the people of the villages around Nocton – people would be outnumbered by cows.

A cow has to have a calf each year if she is to continue giving milk and 8,000 cows means a lot of calf and cattle movement on and off the site.

Plus there is the threat to 60-80 traditional farms which may very likely be put out of business.

At the briefing, there was a coalition of groups (Compassion in World Farming, World Society for the Protection of Animals, Friends of the Earth, Soil Association, Women’s Institute) agreeing that this was not the way forward for the dairy industry.

The way forward is surely as Marks and Spencer, Waitrose and Sainsburys do: paying an agreed amount for milk to the farmer plus a bonus for high standards of animal welfare?

We are at a tipping point now as this factory farm application if successful will be the first of many.

Fifty MPs realised that this is a very significant proposal and attended the event, where was Mr Tyrie and what are his views?

Rosemary Marshall, Spitalfield Lane, Chichester

WITH LOCAL authorities having to plan for lean times ahead, is the upkeep of our ‘built heritage’ such as war memorials likely to be given priority status?

Probably not.

Although we continue to see the tragic consequences of war, it is difficult for us to visualise that nearly a century ago men – and some women – died in such vast numbers that they could not be returned to these shores.

Memorials were the only way that a community could honour its dead and the very nature of any war memorial remains is local appeal and relevance.

The time is right however to try to take a view of the ‘big picture’.

The centenary of the Armistice on November 11. 2018, represents a fitting deadline by which Britain could boast a heritage of clean, readable and structurally sound war memorials in a way that shows future generations that we have truly ‘not forgotten’.

Serious money is needed nationally for, where necessary, structural repairs, stonework restoration, cleaning and re-engraving and ultimately this can only come from government.

Further improvements in lighting, seating, fencing and landscaping can help re-establish these fine structures in their role as a point for quiet contemplation in an increasingly hectic world.

Contact clean2018@hotmail.co.uk

Ray Thompson, Brigg, North Lincolnshire

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH, one-time failed leader of the Tory Party, has told unemployed people in Merthyr Tydfil they have become static and should seek work in Cardiff.

Shades of on-yer-bike indeed.

I looked at the bus services from Merthyr to Cardiff.

Stagecoach Wales run an hourly service X73 – it’s a 20-mile trip one way.

Can’t find the fare online.

But looking at a similar local person in, say, Bognor, seeking work in, say, Chichester, the 700 return fare for the six miles is £6, but that is outside peak hours.

So our putative ‘static’ job seeker goes five days a week to seek work in person.

Cost £30, job seekers’ allowance £65 per week.

Oh, I forget, he or she could WALK!

The Labour Party did not get a majority.

Nor did the Tory Party.

So this ‘minister’ has no mandate to tell anyone anything, his power is stolen.

He shows this ‘new’ Conservatism to be even more out of touch with the lives of real people than even in Iron Maggie’s time.

They have changed, yes – they have got worse, their self-righteous arrogance is not tempered one jot by the fact they did not win the election.

And the Lib Dems – pathetic tail-coat riders – are the reason the Tories can do this to people.

A fair spending review?

On yer bike.

Jan Cosgrove, Longford Road, Bognor Regis

THE BOGNOR Regis Royal Naval Association meets on the first Tuesday of every month at 
12.30pm at the Royal British Legion, Clifton Road.

We welcome possible new members who have naval interests.

We recently held a very well-attended and successful dance to commemorate Trafalgar.

All ex-matelots drank toasts with the true naval spirit – Pussers Rum. If you have served in the Royal Navy, Royal Marines or WRNS why not call in and meet us?.

Once Navy, always Navy.

Jim Peskett (Secretary RNA), Clifton Road, Bognor Regis

AT LONG last, sense has finally arrived in the granting of planning permission to convert The Crown in Midhurst into a home.

Anyone with any sense at all would have realised that turning this building into a private home was the only way to go.

I was never able to understand why our local planners insisted that the building should remain a public house, when we already have so many, most of whom are struggling to make a living and when parking facilities in the area are non existent.

The people who live in Edinburgh Square must be breathing a huge sigh of relief that at long last the only sensible decision has finally been made.

I wish the owner of the former Crown much joy and happiness in his new home.

Jeni Robinson, Dodsley Grove, Midhurst

HAVING READ Colin Hughes’ letter in the October 21 Observer, regarding the future of Midhurst, and his upbeat view of the positive things we have to look forward to in this area, I must say that by and large I agree with him.

Having the headquarters for the National Park in Midhurst must surely give the town a positive boost by bringing in new jobs and visitors?

As far as his comments regarding The Grange and West Sussex County Council’s involvement with the day-care centre are concerned I feel he may be misleading us.

It has been stated by WSCC that it will not pull out of the current day-care centre until the existing Grange Centre is demolished.

Bearing in mind the current economic situation is it necessarily a foregone conclusion that the new sports centre will get built?

In the event that the new centre does not go ahead we can expect day-care to continue at The Grange.

According to Caroline Frost, who has been collecting signatures for a petition to WSCC regarding the day-care centre, she has found virtually no-one, out of literally hundreds of people spoken to, who think that the new centre is a good idea.

They all seem to think that the existing Grange would be fine if it was renovated and properly maintained.

I think that we do need to have a positive outlook for the future of Midhurst and it’s surrounding area, but at the same time we need to have great concern for the care of those in our society who need the benefits that the day care centre has been providing.

We must make the continuance of that care our priority.

Chris Morgan, Stedham

I WAS horrified and left in despair by your front page report about the thoughtless, selfish actions of a would-be Midhurst shopkeeper who had the temerity to change the writing on the sign outside her new shop without the proper consent (Take down shop sign – or go to jail, October 21).

On account of these profit-driven, robber-baron attempts to ride roughshod over our essential planning regulations, Chichester District Council has been forced to expend its precious resources in order to expunge this unsightly aberration. I am pleased to see that CDC used its full panoply of weapons in defence of our sensitivities.

In short order it deployed the enforcement team, followed by the design and implementation team, the rural towns co-ordinator and the economic development team are currently being held in reserve.

The wayward shopkeeper has tried to play on our better natures by pleading that she was ‘a reasonable person, trying to earn a living after being made redundant’, but we are not that easily misled.

The council, quite reasonably, has made it clear that prison is a real possibility here for such insidious behaviour.

No doubt our brave police force will be more than ready to execute their duty to that end.

Of course they will have to carry out a risk assessment before entering the premises and tackling this criminal.

That will mean filling out forms RA1 covering the 238 possible hazards followed by forms RA2 , 
RA3 and finally form RA4 to the portfolio holder.

All of this no doubt necessitating the cutting down of countless trees to simply provide the paper.

Some people seem to be immune to the consequences of their own thoughtless actions.

This shopkeeper should realise that after 12 years of socialism the spirit of the entrepreneur is supposed to be dead and that our good solid council officers are intent on keeping it like that.

Just think if there were more people like that, standing on their own feet, worse still showing initiative, getting on their bikes (or is it the bus these days?) then there would be even less for the enforcement team, the design implementation team, the rural towns co-ordinator, the economic development team and our police to do.

And that could lead to some of them being made redundant themselves and where would be then?

A Lawson, Haslemere

I FIND it utterly amazing that Chichester District Council is wasting valuable time and money chasing the owner of Kiss Chase Kids in Midhurst!

The poor woman is only trying to make her way in these uncertain economic times and has brought a much needed service to the town, and I must add that having visited the shop the prices of the clothes are reasonable too!

I simply cannot believe that the council is so concerned over something so trivial as the design of a sign that frankly brings a smile to my face every time I see it.

Sensibility, unfortunately is something that the council appear to have lost in this matter...

CDC, leave Kiss Chase Kids alone and instead point your attention towards doing something to stop the lorries that are constantly heading along West Street and the old part of town and which are slowly, and surely, destroying our historic buildings.

Liz Burr, Midhurst

ON BEHALF of the Petworth Friends of the Chestnut Tree House Children’s Hospice, (the only children’s Hospice in Sussex) and St Wilflrid’s Hospice in Chichester, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all who contributed to this in any way.

To the people who gave things, to the helpers, and especially to all who came to make this a very happy, busy and lucrative morning.

We raised just over £1,000 and were very blessed to receive an anonymous donation of £1,000 from a friend which means that each hospice will receive a cheque for £1,000.

To all of you, thank you so very much.

This was our second joint hospice coffee morning and we will have another next year so will welcome your support.

Joan Chatwood, High Street, Petworth

IN THESE days of supposed extensive cutbacks in local government spending, am I alone in scratching my head wondering quite why it takes two people to walk around the streets of Midhust together issuing parking tickets?

The answer I received from the council was ‘health and safety’.

Jacky Simpson, Hillview, Elsted