Ongoing need

I was really pleased to see the recent help for the homeless initiated by The Rocket Café and the public’s generous response. It would though, be easy for your readers to gain the impression that apart from this, nothing much else was going on locally to help the homeless and vulnerable in our City. Nothing could be further from the truth.

All the churches, Anglican, Free Churches, and Roman Catholic, and charities, like Open Door, have been faithfully serving the homeless for years.

At St. Peter’s, we run a winter night shelter men and women and provide shower, laundry facilities and clothing for those who need it (and sleeping bags for those who can’t or won’t use the shelter) Hot food is available at one of the churches somewhere in Hereford, every day, where a breakfast, a lunch or an evening meal is available free of charge.

 The shelter costs about £40,000 each winter, funded by grants and generous donations.

Most of the food served is given by church members and others across the City and there is an army of volunteers who willingly give their time to organise, cook, serve, clean or just “be there” to serve the homeless and vulnerable in our community.

 Spontaneous generosity is wonderful and I’m not knocking it. But if this winter’s difficulties have caught the imagination of the public and local businesses, can I ask that they find ways of supporting and encouraging what is already going on to maximise available resources.

Peter Strevens, Licensed Lay Minister and Churchwarden, St. Peter’s and St. James’ Hereford

Hot lunches

Our residents at Great Western Court Sheltered Housing did not go hungry in the recent awful weather conditions! Following a quick phone call to Alison at the College Green Chip Shop at quarter past 11 on Thursday as the snow came down and conditions underfoot worsened a hot fish and chip lunch was delivered by Alison’s team by 12 o’clock.

On the Friday our snow-covered scheme were so pleased to see Anita and her husband from The Bistro @ Hennfford Gardens arrive with a hot roast meal for them.

Anita with her husband’s help had dug their car out of their snow bound home, driven to town and cooked firstly for residents of Hennfford Gardens and then delivered and served our residents at Great Western a lovely hot lunch.

Anita then took orders for meals for the Saturday which she delivered to the scheme at lunch time to ensure everyone had access to another hot meal without having to venture out.

In a time where services have become increasingly difficult to find businesses like these stepping up and putting themselves out really mean a great deal.

Hilary Lewis, Scheme Manager, Great Western Court

Great quality

Truly, kindness is the greatest of human qualities, and it was on full display here, in town and country, as we wemt through the awful Storm Emma.

Mukunda Kumari, Hereford

Poorly treated

MANY will ask who picked the fruit and vegetables before Eastern European works were brought in to do the job that nobody else would undertake.

Well, it was the Romanies (gypsies, travellers, itinerants) who did the work together with their children, who did not go to school because under the 1944 Education Act they were only required to attend “half time” – in practice not at all!

These hard working people provided the mobile labour force for 150 years and more until new laws prevented farmers from paying cash in hand and children were made to go to school instead of working from the age of four to harvest Hereford’s fruit.

Even if the law was repealed Travellers now have fewer children and permanent caravan sites. They cannot live on farms in tourers or as previously in horse drawn wagons.

Hereford and Worcester’s Gypsy labour force was shabbily treated when their usefulness was over and now the same will happen to Eastern Europeans forced to leave the UK with food production being moved to China and then shipped here.

As usual, common sense plays no part in the present situation with talk of “human slavery” when children happily worked alongside parents, rather then sit in the classrooms ignoring the teachers who didn’t really want them there.

We all hear of the “romance” of Gypsy life, but in fact it was very hard and their former homes are now in museums like Hartlebury Centre.

WF Kerswell, Former Vice Chairman National Gypsy Council Church Stretton

Bypass mania

TWO letters from last week’s Hereford Times revealed disturbing aspects of the bypass mania; yearning for unitary authority status continues the tawdry desire to make Herefordshire “like everywhere else”, and a visit to Ross roundabout reinforces the certain prospect of heavy traffic opting for an alternative route (via our bypass) to the M50/5. A third letter suggests the unpredictable results from new road provision (and officially, you save a maximum of eight minutes when it is built).

An exception is the wide open spaces on the deserted A49/Rotherwas link, connecting local industry with – er – nowhere, which was predicted.

During the years of amalgamation, my official visits to County Hall, Worcester, demonstrated a real desire to preserve its western wing as a precious rural adjunct to much busier Worcestershire – the opposite of the wish to make it “like everywhere else”.

So, no help from government, so we brilliantly kill two birds – add a third to our population making the council more important and sell green fields, ruin the peace and thereby raise our own money to build the wretched road.

I attended a recent PR effort - the “officials” present were part of a “communication package” – from Wales! Undoubtedly further evidence of what I characterise as expensive vandalism. The more one hears of its motivation, and notes the anguished views of thoughtful Herefordians, one wonders what other projects are festering behind the closed doors of the cabinet.

Peter Tomlinson, Bodenham

Signs ignored

The other day while heading into the city by the Halo centre, I was nearly hit by a lorry that was moving out into the centre of the road to avoid the cars parked, on the main road outside the halo centre, why are the police allowing this parking, when road markings to separate the carriageway, are being ignored by ignorant people, too mean to pay the parking charges in the proper car park. why are the clearway signs being ignored, this means no parking on the road sides, this clear breach of highway regulations wants to end before someone is seriously injured or even killed.

I will also mention the parking in the bus stop at Belmont abbey, the signs clearly say, buses only, and the double yellow lines are supposed to mean no parking. are these dog walkers too tired to park in the proper parking place and walk. Why do our traffic wardens not take a drive up here a few times. The roads are dangerous enough .

J Stevenson, Kingstone

Not a cure

Many people will be delighted to find that Herefordshire Council is planning a bypass, believing it will cure traffic congestion. The tragedy is that it won’t.

The truth is that the bypass will make the situation worse, because the 6,500 houses the council plan to build to help pay for the road, will generate more traffic than exists now. Since 80% of current traffic is trying to get into Hereford, it will do little to even alleviate existing problems.

Were the Council serious about easing congestion it would have implemented other, cheaper, measures, such has better public transport, especially school buses. We all know that traffic flow improves in the school holidays.

If, like Herefordshire Campaign to Protect Rural England, you do not believe that wasting in excess of £200 million of taxpayers’ money and destroying forever the beautiful countryside setting of Hereford are the right answers, please sign the online petition that can be found on the 38 degrees website (scrap the western relief road).

David Phelps, Hon Sec, Herefordshire CPRE Knightwick

Land rumour

I am extremely concerned about the apparent arbitrary and undemocratic manner this so called undemocratic Cabinet operates. A typical example is the manner in which the people, whose houses were to be destroyed, on the route of the proposed by-pass, only found out in The Hereford Times. They also appear to be so insistent on choosing the most disruptive and expensive Western route. They appear to ignore the fact that an Eastern route would be far less disruptive. Is it possible that they have also been influenced by something I’ve recently heard. Is the Hereford Diocese considering waiving their Covenant on a large area of land around the New Cattle Market? This would mean that it could be open for development.

Wally Bowles, Credenhill

Housing crisis

In response to Ian Morris (HT Feb 22) and James McLelland (letters HT Mar 1)  I would like to give a small example of what is happening locally to ‘affordable’ housing. Last summer I was approached by a Cusop resident unhappy that the developers of the Booker’s Edge site (opposite Hay Co-op) had submitted a new planning application removing the ‘affordable’ homes included in the original application. I put this resident in touch with a local Labour activist in Cusop and they, and other residents ran a petition opposing the new application. Despite the petition, the opposition of the parish council and the professed support of the local councillor (Philip Price) for affordable housing particularly in rural areas, the council has allowed the application to proceed and continued secret negotiations to release it. It would be interesting to know the council’s motivation for not enforcing the inclusion of ‘affordable housing’ in this development.

The current housing crisis has its roots in the sell off at substantial discount of council housing that started in the 1980s which has drastically reduced the number of reasonably priced rental properties on secure tenancies. This policy is being enthusiastically pursued by the current Conservative government.  Our County Council passed all its council housing to local housing associations some time ago. The one action it could take to improve the availability of more reasonably priced housing to buy or rent is to insist on the obligations of private developers to include affordable homes in their new developments Unfortunately for many in Herefordshire it appears unprepared to do so.

Anna Coda, Peterchurch

Appeal to end

Our seasonal Cosy Toes Appeal comes to an end on March 31.

We take this opportunity of thanking you most sincerely for mentioning our appeal over the last five weeks in the “Hereford” column.

To date this has resulted in well over five hundred pairs of socks being handed out to the needy.

Lyn & Judy Booth, On behalf of St. Martin’s Church

Staff thanked

I have just spent two weeks in hospital and would like through the Hereford Times to thank all the staff for their help in my time of need - they may remember a patient known as “Den”.

Well I am here to say thank you to you all.

I hope I was not too much trouble to you, the pressure you are under has to be seen to be believed but your dedication to the task never faltered and I am eternally grateful, the smiley faces made the injections bearable.

Thank you is hardly enough to convey my feelings for you all but it comes from my heart.

Denis Williams, Presteigne