Alarm bells
The news that a large berry fruit producer in Ledbury is planning to move production to China because they can’t be sure they can recruit enough EU workers next season ought to be ringing alarms bells for Herefordshire. It’s not an isolated case - last November, NFU deputy president Minette Batters said ‘Food is rotting in the field’, and demanded urgent action on the seasonal labour shortfall. Last week, other senior NFU spokespeople repeated the call. When is this government going to wake up and realise that Brexit is damaging one of Herefordshire’s prime industries, perhaps forever? Those of us who support Remain did warn about this likelihood but were shouted down and castigated as ‘Project Fear’. Will our local MPs use their columns in this newspaper to explain how they are going to prevent further damage to Herefordshire’s agricultural industry?
Robert Palgrave
Hereford Green Party

Loss of history
The proposed Three Elms housing site is situated on a floodplain and geographical surveys established the potential for multiple archaeological sites, possibly a Roman Villa and ironworks. Prior to including this site in the core strategy, the council should have undertaken a full land survey.
Six of the proposed bypass routes cross the Three Elms site and the New Livestock Market, which also has potential archaeological sites needing investigations.
There is no second chance if these sites are destroyed, let’s not mortgage our history for ecologically unsound developments.
Janet Smith

Tackle litter
While I commend Jesse Norman (Talking Point 15 Feb) for urging us all to tackle litter, his comments about plastic microbeads don’t give the full story. He credits his government with ‘moving quickly to ban the sale and manufacture of microbeads’.
In fact, after an EU ban was first proposed by the Netherlands in 2013, then backed by environment ministers from Sweden, Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg in December 2014, the UK resisted, saying it preferred a non-legislative approach.
Barack Obama signed a microbead ban into US law in December 2015, and I suggest this, and Greenpeace UK’s 140,000-signature campaign in February 2016, were what made the UK government start taking the issue more seriously.
Despite belatedly doing the right thing on microbeads, Mr Norman’s government needs to do far more about plastic pollution. It is dragging its feet on tackling another major problem, the single-use plastic bottle. Other countries like Norway have successfully introduced deposit schemes and have dramatically increased the number of bottles returned for recycling. Theresa May’s recent toothless pledge to ‘eradicate avoidable plastic waste by 2042’ does not commit to dealing with plastic bottles, and lacks the urgency required.
Robert Palgrave
Hereford Green Party

Major impact
Surely ALL residents of Kings Acre Road within and beyond the boundaries of the route corridor should have received letters? As well as all those poor people suddenly faced with demolition, over 100 other homes will be badly affected if this road is built.
Road building is very noisy, dusty, and muddy, and the heavy diggers etc. are likely to keep interrupting local traffic, possibly for years. As the road will come down hill from Breinton Ridge it will be visible and audible all the time as it develops.
At the same time as road-building, Kings Acre residents may have to cope with the disruption associated with major house-building (1200 homes) on the Three Elms site. Since this “bypass” is most likely to be through the Three Elms housing site, how can it be called a bypass?
What an awful way for Herefordshire Council to treat people, with no regard for all the adverse ways in which lives, (including health), and also businesses, may be affected! Especially as the key to reducing congestion and air pollution is NOT a new road. Improving public transport, and safe ways to cycle and walk can address the problems now.
Nicky Geeson

Real agenda?
During a chance conversation with a well-placed person in the local administration it was revealed that the actual agenda of the recent road building, the link road and proposed bypass is not primarily to deal with traffic management but to enable a massive house building programme. Why? Because current legislation will require that unless Herefordshire’s population is increased from its present 179,000 by 106,000 to 285.000 , then Herefordshire will lose its Unitary Authority status and will be combined with another authority, as we once were with Worcestershire. Is this the smoking gun we have so long looked for? Devious protectionism at a huge cost to the taxpayer, not just financial cost, but the enormous burden it will bear on facilities such as our overstretched hospital provision, Fire Service, etc. Nowhere mentioned as I recall in the long-protracted deliberations of the Core strategy. Not to mention the accelerating cost and stress of Adult Social Care that is already spiralling out of financial control. 
Is this also behind the pie in the sky idea of the proposed University, which is perhaps also a smokescreen, to take our eyes off the real issues facing us in Herefordshire. Who can we trust anymore?  
Charles Nicholls

Extra strain
The closure of ‘Hillside’ and the extra strain this will put on the provision of care by care workers in Herefordshire, has been under estimated by Health and Social Care managers.
Nationally, most of the 815,000 carers in the system are paid less than £7.50 ph and a third are on zero-hour contracts, across the sector, 6.6% of posts remain unfilled. In Herefordshire the problem is no better, but with the distances that have to be travelled by care workers, the half hourly care packages paid for by the council, the problem of providing adequate care at home for patients recently discharged, will I believe, lead to extra distress by patients and relatives alike.
Care companies who are paid by the council to provide half hourly care packages, do not have enough staff to cover for absence, or unexpected delays. Most care workers are told by their care company to leave a client on the floor if they
have found them there, having made them comfortable and dialled 999, if the half hour visit is up! With ambulance delays, the client may have been on the floor, alone, cold, and distressed for many hours, resulting in a return to hospital or possibly worse.
 I understand the reasons for Hillside’s closure, but I am certain that the strain on the county’s worst paid employees, will result in more leaving the caring profession to the detriment of the most vulnerable in the county.
Cllr. Chris Chappell.
Hinton & Hunderton Ward,
Herefordshire Council.

Senseless cut
Soon after Christmas a good friend, an elderly but very independent minded lady who lives alone, was discharged from Ledbury Intermediate Care Centre following an operation at Hereford County Hospital in December. She had no ‘support in the community’ package and in spite of offers of help from neighbours her health declined steadily and she had to be readmitted to the County Hospital last month. She soon recovered sufficiently to be declared clinically ready for discharge to a suitable care facility. After one or two false leads, she has now been transferred to Hillside.   
This has occurred barely two weeks before Hillside is due to close. I am told that this sequence of events is far from an isolated case. How can we have any confidence in assurances that the superb care provided at Hillside will not be required next month and in subsequent months?
I understand only too well that very tight budgetary constraints are involved but I can find no-one in the local medical community (including members of the former Primary Care Trust) who consider this closure to be a sensible cut to make.
So, even at this eleventh hour, may I add my voice to the many others who plead for at least a postponement of closure to enable a more informed public debate to take place on the alternative cuts that might have to be made.
This could restore some respect for the Clinical Commissioning Group in their difficult balancing act.
Keith Bladon

Stop digging
If the worst happens and the Western Bypass is actually built, in 20 or 30 years time people will wonder how such a bad decision could possibly have been made. That route is so obviously wrong - financially, environmentally and logistically - and today’s decision-makers continue to refuse to justify it.  The villages involved provide a “Green Lung” for the city, which walkers, joggers, dog-walkers and cyclists can access - with or without cars. With the county’s tourist potential only scratching the surface, it is short-term madness to do anything that detracts from what we have: a wonderful, lightly populated county with assets that have evolved into what they are and could so easily be squandered by short-term expediency.
 Bypasses seldom work in the way intended, this one, coupled with thousands of new homes in north west Hereford, will do nothing to ease city congestion, in fact it could add to the congestion at rush-hours.  See what a mess was made of the Worcester bypass.
The council must face the fact that it has got this project entirely wrong. Better to admit it now, rather than continue digging.
Caroline Jones,

Added worry
Originally we were told that the western by-pass was to be a single lane in each direction. Now Councillor Price informs us that it may be a dual carriageway. This adds to the concerns that the road will become a major route from S Wales towards the north, relieving pressure on the M5/6.
All those who live close to the route from Ross to beyond Leominster should be worried about increased traffic, especially heavy goods vehicles and of course, no lessening of the effect on the traffic in Hereford city.
An increase in noise and pollution will follow. In addition, a high level large bridge over the Wye will increase the damage to the landscape. We have been warned.
Richard Wise

Criminal acts
As a life-long nature lover and a professional conservationist for the last three decades, working with Greenpeace, the RSPB and other groups, I have come across much environmental destruction around the globe but few things have shocked me as much as the shooting of a barn owl and the deliberate killing of otters in my own home patch. Most of this global environmental destruction is driven either by greed or, in some cases, need where the very poorest are taking more from the environment than it can sustain just to survive. These recent local wildlife killings cannot be explained by the same logic – they are senseless, criminal acts and the perpetrators need to be found and prosecuted. Someone will know who it is who shot the barn owl.
 Thankfully, there are many people, such as Sophie Cowling of the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, who are actively working to protect the amazing habitats and wildlife  to be found in this least spoiled of counties. This needs to be celebrated.
On Friday, March 30 An Evening of Words and Music in aid of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s Nature Reserves Appeal will take place at Tomkins Theatre.
Richard Page
Sutton St Nicholas

Getting worse
OK, so some people have strong feelings about what it means to be out of Europe, and we can respect their sincerity, but does it mean that the rest of us have to be held hostage when we can see it all going wrong?
It is gradually dawning that we were seriously misled.
The Brexiteers knew we would be worse off in some way, but avoided an argument, with their ‘Project Fear’. But now, it turns out that austerity is getting worse, the NHS is running out of nurses, and the rest of Europe is doing much better than we are.
Are we going to just believe in the wonderful vision they painted? While the Tories are tearing themselves apart, and ruining our country in the process, what are the rest of us doing? Just worrying but hoping for the best?
Allan Johnson

Back in time
I’m researching the history of some Hereford businesses and I would be grateful for readers’ assistance.
 As a kid in the late 1940s I have fond memories of the scent of roasting coffee wafting down High Street from Marchants grocery store. I know Charles Garnet Marchant was Mayor of Hereford in 1945, and was given the Freedom of the City in 1964, but I would love to know more.
 I’m also interested in Charles Witts, who has a Hereford avenue named after him where I spent the first 10 years of my life.  He was also a city mayor and received the Freedom of the City in October 1927. I believe he was related to a Gloucestershire shoemaking family in the first half of the 19th century, and that he was involved in a drapery business in Hereford. But there was also a Charles Witts who had a drapery business in Worcester from 1899, though I don’t know if it was the same man.
 Any information or photographs, relating to either of these Hereford businesses and families, would be much appreciated.  I’m also interested in any information or photographs relating to Chadds, Greenlands, or any other historic or well-remembered Hereford businesses.  Please contact me at mtcenergy or PO Box 665, Worcester WR1 3WN.
Terry Wardle

Lottery dream
WERE I to win £100 million on the Euro Lottery, I’d love to leave my fellow Herefordians £20 million for the purpose of building a ‘link road’.
I propose that it should run from the new link road in the city for about 100 metres to nowhere in particular.
Business opportunities could be realised either side of my most thoughtful legacy providing shops selling really useful goods such as left-handed loo paper, rabbit hutches with inbuilt snorkelling equipment and books explaining why hunting for rattlesnakes in Widemarsh Street isn’t likely to be accepted as thesis material for a university doctorate.
Oh, and the remaining £80 million? Being an idiot, I’d probably just waste it….
Laurence Meredith
Lower Maes-coed