Parking loss

IT is no wonder that the council are so keen to introduce city centre street parking charges, the income will go some way to make up the loss of revenue in the Merton Meadow car park.

Many may still be unaware that the proposed urban village will cover the whole of the car park, not just part.

I am not against the idea of an urban village as such, but covering up all of a much-needed car park doesn’t make sense.

What about leaving some of the car park and building some of the urban housing on the old Saunders Vale site which has been vacant for years?

We have already lost one car park in Blackfriars Street, which was purchased along with other buildings by Herefordshire Housing, and I also remember Gaol Street car park being named as one of the options for university buildings.  When the residential parking restrictions kick in there will be a requirement for more car park space. The cars will not just disappear.

In the absence of a park-and-ride scheme there is a need to keep car park space. If they don’t it will have an adverse effect on the amount of shoppers coming in to the city, and to the support of Hereford FC.

A large percentage of the supporters live outside of the city. If I were a shopper living in Ludlow and had a choice of shopping in a place with an excellent park-and-ride like Shrewsbury or fighting over the last place in the Horse and Groom car park, I know which one I would choose.


Why the falls?

AS we hear of yet another unfortunate pedestrian crashing down on the Widemarsh kerb, we have to ask ourselves why this should be happening.

Those responsible for the kerb say there is no problem with the design, so no guidance there.  Could it be those pesky north-east winds which in medieval times were blamed for disorientating the traveller?

Or is it just possible that the experts have made a mistake, and that remedial work on the kerb is urgently required before yet another pedestrian is carried off to the overloaded A&E?


Lovely city

I HAVE read the letter sent to you by George Thomas and I would like to endorse and support every single word he writes.

I have continually fought against damaging and negative attitudes towards the city and county, with generally the older generation particularly not realising that the world does not stand still and we all need to engage in participating positively to ensure Herefordshire is up there with 21st century progress.

The list of exciting things happening and planned is so exciting!  The other letter from Tricia Baker is also great – about ‘moaning Minnies’ – and I would add ‘grumpy old moaners’ – suggest they get a life and be glad they are lucky enough to live in such a special county of England.


Past triumphs

IN Talking Points (September 21) Jesse Norman wishes the secrets of Herefordshire were better known, especially to locals.   Both he and Bill Jackson are right to broadcast the rapid success of the Enterprise Zone – Skylon Park.  I remember the original Skylon which lifted spirits at the Festival of Britain, also in times of austerity.   Unfortunately, that icon was immediately discarded after due to costs.   Please let this one have a more sustainable future.

I welcome the interest of our new university in the zone – it is innovative and hope for the future.   I went to their inaugural presentation of their vision for Herefordshire, forerunning the cultural partnership’s recognition of the importance of looking at Herefordshire as a whole – with the welcome suggestion of a coherent travel policy!

Our children will judge us on our long term values.  At present Hereford is reeling from a frenzy of roadworks and businesses are struggling through no fault of their own.

While we are building for the future, can we learn from the lessons of the past?    Building the southern Rotherwas access road uncovered (briefly) the Rotherwas Ribbon.  This unique construction from Neolithic times connected Dinedor Hill to the river Wye and was early evidence of communal pride for over a thousand years.  The ROF Munitions project has done much to gain recognition for the people and buildings of the two world wars. And the Greenway Bridge restores an important link.

The chapel dating from 1580s is a EH national treasure and, though only the cellars of Rotherwas House remain, other buildings are a reminder of the Bodenham family, the name ‘which has stood for so long for all that is best in country life’.   In the banking crisis on 1825, Sir Charles mortgaged the estate in a failed attempt to save the City and County Bank of which he was part owner. We have a heritage of integrity.

If the lessons of the past are accessible to us perhaps we can make a better future. Dinedor Heritage Group, Friends of Rotherwas Chapel, the continuation of the Munitions group, Bartonsham Local History Group and HARC are just some of the groups and individuals who share this concern.


Screen saga

I WAS interested to read in the Hereford Times of Ian and Gill Smith’s visit to London and the story about the Hereford Screen.

Readers may be interested to know that in 2011 a group of the Friends of Hereford Cathedral spent a few days in London as part of a ‘Hereford in London’ holiday.

Included was a visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum to view the splendidly restored Hereford screen, which as your article correctly noted, was removed from the cathedral in 1967.  This action caused great controversy at the time and the Victorian Society was very vocal in its opposition.  During our 2011 visit to the screen in the museum we met the then director of the Victorian Society, Ian Dungavell.

Although an aspiration for the return of the screen to Hereford  remains (as I understand it) official policy of the Victorian Society, I think they realise, as does Hereford Cathedral, that this is never going to happen – even if we wanted it!   The screen looks magnificent where it is now and the important thing is that this wonderful example of Victorian metalwork is saved and enjoyed for posterity – even if not in its original context.

People sometimes ask me: ‘Would you like the screen back in the cathedral?’ The answer is a resounding ‘No’!   Since 1967 we have moved on. The focus is now not so much on the high altar, far away in the distance behind the screen, but on the nave altar (installed during the 1980s) with its magnificent corona (installed in 1992 as a memorial to Bishop John Eastaugh).

The emphasis is, rightly, on the Eucharist taking place among the people, with the priest facing the congregation.  This is not to deny the value of screens in cathedrals – such as you see in Gloucester Cathedral, York Minster and many other large churches.

These remind us that medieval cathedrals weren’t designed as one huge chamber but as a series of rooms, big and small, each with particular purposes.  If such a medieval screen remains, then we make a virtue out of necessity and use each ‘room’ today in the best way we can.    But it’s one thing to work with what is there – it’s quite another to bring an architectural feature back when the building has moved on.  So, for myself, I rejoice that this beautiful and gleaming Victorian artwork towers above the entrance to the V & A but also remind myself that our cathedrals develop and ‘move on’ in their fittings and fixtures!

MICHAEL TAVINOR Dean of Hereford

It’s an insult

THIS council employs 1,200 staff, manages £350 million a year and has achieved much, within budget, for five consecutive years.

Mistakes are few but inevitable at this level of activity and when they occur we examine them in public.

To suggest therefore that this is a culture of failure is an insult to elected members and hard working staff.

At Blueschool House, officers ignored spending authorisation process.  Only those directly involved could have known of this action. When it became known, the chief executive immediately ordered an audit report which was discussed at the recent audit and governance public meeting.

The matter was discussed earlier in July at a public cabinet meeting attended by Cllr Bob Matthews and others who could have called for a referral to scrutiny.

They did not. Why not?

Desperate for attention, these paragons of virtue now claim, without a shred of evidence, that the matter would have been “filed away” but for them.

The public may well ponder the real motivation of Cllrs Matthews, Hardwick, Chappell  and the chairman of overview and scrutiny, Cllr Bowen, who was openly political in his radio comment.

AW JOHNSON Leader, Conservative Group Herefordshire Council

Saving cats

I AM writing in response to an enjoyable and educational open day at the Cats Protection Adoption Centre in Allensmore.

Before the day I only knew of the organisation’s shops but have now seen the purpose-built housing for vulnerable felines awaiting re-homing at the centre which is run by caring and compassionate staff.

I also discovered their extensive ‘trap-neuter-return’ programme for feral cats as well as financial assistance for those who cannot afford to neuter domestic cats which prevents the proliferation of unwanted kittens.

To my surprise there is a scheme that ensures cat care and homing after death of an owner; counselling for bereaved cat owners and a safe haven for cats in households experiencing domestic abuse.

All services are free.

As owner of a black cat who came to us as a frightened stray, I was horrified to learn that some people dislike black cats.

I have always thought of them as lucky.

To redress this dislike there is a Black Cat Coffee Morning on October 29 between 11am and 1pm at the Allensmore centre.

I am sure they would love to see many people there.


Going public

I REFER to the statement by Cllr Tony Johnson, leader of Herefordshire Council in last week’s Hereford Times, in which he criticised me and a number of my fellow Independent Councillors in respect of our views concerning the gross mis- management and near £1million overspend on Blueschool House.

Cllr Johnson stated that it all came about because officers of the council had only approached one contractor in respect of the extra work, and had failed to return the matter to the cabinet first.

His comments clearly demonstrate that there is a total lack of supervision regarding capital expenditure within the council at present, and that very same point was mentioned by the external auditors after I raised my concerns with them twelve months ago.

At that time they made a number of recommendations which have clearly not been heeded. Cllr Johnson and his cohort will be aware that there is strict local government legislation that should be adhered to at all times when dealing with tendering procedures.

In fairness to Cllr Braemer, Cabinet Member for Assets and Contracts, it was he who announced the overspend at a cabinet meeting some months ago.

Cllr Johnson however cannot deny that nothing further was subsequently heard about the matter until I raised it at full council and brought it into the public domain via the local media.

I then continued to question Andrew Lovegrove, the Chief Finance Officer, before any investigation was commenced. I must also mention at this juncture that several members of the public also expressed strong concern about this serious overspend, and suggested to him that the only way that the public would be satisfied would be if there were a full and open investigation into the matter.

Needless to say, nothing happened.

We the Independents are quite happy for the public to make up their own minds as to where the truth lies, and who should be considering their position, but we fully stand by everything we have stated.


Any updates?

I HAVE been away. Just before I left the main issue was the overspend on third council move on Blueschool Street.

The council were going to have a chat about the £1.9 million spent. Let’s just hope the council doesn’t want to raise council tax next year.

CHAS ASHBY Hunderton, Hereford

Access please

I THINK readers will be interested to learn that St Philip and St James Church, Tarrington, is the only church in the county, indeed in the country, which has ‘no vehicular access’ signs on the only road to church.

This means that the hearse, wedding cars, emergency and disabled vehicles are all banned.

Incumbents in the churchyard, rather than turning in their graves, must be giving thanks that they got in in time.

The rest of us may find it easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for us to enter The Kingdom of Heaven via Church Lane.

As a lady of a certain age, I am anxious that these unlawful signs are removed in my lifetime so that, when the time comes, I can join my mother in the graveyard.

Please visit our Church and perhaps you could bring a spade to help me remove the signs as, unfortunately, appeals to Highways Department in recent months have resulted in no action.


Wealth divide

BILL Wiggin (October 5) is keen to emphasise all the good things that his Government has done.

Will that include increasing the number of children living in poverty to 4 million, doubling homelessness since 2010, reducing benefits for disabled people, allowing the NHS and ambulance service to decline to near crisis point, cutting the money for school budgets and funding to Local Authorities so that support services such as social care, youth services, the police and fire services are all reduced significantly?

All these actions have had a disproportionate effect on people who are most in need; is that evidence of what our MP calls “social responsibility”? He said “...Mr Corbyn cultivates injustice and unfairness”; has he got the correct target? Isn’t that true of the present Government?

It is correct that unemployment has fallen but many people are only able to find part-time jobs or accept insecure and unfair contracts and with such low wages that they have to seek the help of food banks to feed their families.


It’s my dad

REGARDING Garth Lawson’s brilliant article in the Hereford Times (September 28), that heroic policeman who braved the storm to search for a lost woman, was my wonderful father. Thank you, Garth!