Stop digging

As one of the ‘ Labour politicians’ quoted in the Hereford Times reports to which Bill Wiggins took objection  I advise him to stop digging when in a hole.  Someone who has chosen to put himself in the public eye should be prepared to face scrutiny from the electorate.  Mr Wiggins’ bullying bluster at the HT makes him look a bit like a big spoilt child. Will he use his regular column to fulminate further?

In principle I too favour a degree of accountability and regulation of print media but it is a shame that Bill tries to use IPSO and Parliament to vent his anger at the reporting of factually correct information by the Hereford Times.    The Hereford Times was right, as IPSO found, and you were wrong Bill, so leave them alone.

Anna Coda, Peterchurch

Witch hunt

There would appear to be something of a witch-hunt going on here. Bill Wiggin has never been involved in any tax evasion activities and his work for companies outside his position as MP, like those of many other MPs, have been legally declared. The American owners of the Hereford Times and other papers, however, do indulge in tax-avoidance schemes, maybe legally, although morally questionable. Your reporting does not reflect well upon you.

That being said, Bill Wiggin has been an excellent MP for us in North Herefordshire, as has been shown by his large majority at elections. For those of us who have contacted him for any reason, his replies are most comprehensive, while he is always ready to do whatever he can to help.

Credit where it is due, please.

M E Davey, Yazor


I see that despite Bill Wiggin’s distaste for the Hereford Times (MP’s complaint rejected, April 12) over your brave investigation into his Bermuda based tax haven business, he still continues with his regular column of blustering in your paper.

I love a man of principle.

David Phelps, Knightwick

Poor choice

May I add my praise of the HT editorial team to that expressed by Paul Greaves in his letter of April 5. Bill Wiggin has used a House of Commons debate to publicly name and rubbish the HT editor by describing him as “rather hopeless”. This attack by our own MP was in reply to the HT’s stance on publicising Wiggin’s employment by Emerging Asset Management (EAM), based in Bermuda. A quote from a piece in a November HT gives a flavour of the debate: “There is no suggestion that EAM is doing anything illegal and politicians like Mr Wiggin are rightly free to choose to invest their time and money in such companies if they so please. But surely many can - and will - argue that Mr Wiggin’s choice is a poor one when, at a time that many are still feeling the pinch of austerity and the NHS needs every penny it can get from the exchequer, an elected government representative should seek to bolster his basic MP’s salary of £74,962 by helping others to ‘Start hedge funds in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands’ “. Mr Wiggin seems incapable of distinguishing between “legally permissible” and “morally acceptable.”

Tony Winch, Checkley

Time wasting

So Mr Wiggin blows a gasket and used a commons debate to go off on one.

Finally, he has made it into Private Eye. Let’s face it, he is not good with numbers. Remember the expenses Fiasco - Mr Wiggin had to repay over £4000. If you can’t do your expenses, would you really want him to help with investments.

I’m not really worried about the HT, it can look after itself, it’s a newspaper after all but the fact that he considers it his public duty to waste everyone’s time, using a debate as his mouth piece is pretty pathetic.

I do see why he supports Max Mosely on press regulation.

I am so sad I’m a Tory.

Paul Berry, Bromyard


Is a museum just a room full of display cases, or must it ensure it keeps the expertise of trained curators to describe, explain and interpret it? Is it OK to keep the majority of exhibits moth-balled in store (MRLC), or better to exhibit as many as possible to increase public knowledge and inspire curiosity and new ideas? How will future generations understand our civilisation if they cannot trace its development through museums?

Hereford was bidding to be City of Culture. How could that have ever happened without access to examples of our unique heritage? On April 9 I observed a meeting of Herefordshire Council’s General Scrutiny Committee, commenting on plans for the future of Museums, Libraries and Archives. As the currently agreed budget decreases towards zero (at least for museums), the Assistant Director of Communities was advocating outsourcing to external organisations. Of course, there would be a public outcry if more of Herefordshire’s MLA services were closed right now, but although there might be economies of scale for administration and front desks etc., outsourcing could also prove to be economically unsustainable and ultimately result in closures anyway.

Should there be more public consultation before such far-reaching decisions are made?

Nichola Gleeson, Hereford

Good value?

AR Jones of Weobley pointed out in a letter to the Hereford Times (April 5) that the information leaflet sent with council tax letters seemed to omit the huge cost of “council officers and councillors’ wages”.

Many years ago, councillors were only paid reasonable expenses. I had an uncle who was a councillor in the early 1960s. He would come home from work, grab a quick meal and travel to meetings. He received expenses, but essentially, he did the work to serve the community.

Today, tens of thousands of councillors in the UK are paid handsomely.

Taking the published figures for the year 2016-17, Herefordshire councillors received a basic allowance of £7,314 per annum. Councillors in neighbouring county councils received the following basic allowances for the same period: Worcestershire £8,772; Gloucestershire £9,999; Shropshire £11,514; Monmouthshire £13,299; Powys £13,000.

Of course, we are told that councillors are careful with taxpayers’ money. However, there are many examples of councils raising tax, cutting services, yet not blinking an eyelid when councillors accept increases in their allowances.

Even councillors for district councils receive basic allowances. For example, the 38 councillors of Malvern Hills District Council receive a basic allowance of £4,200 per annum. When you examine special responsibility allowances the figures become eye-watering.

Whilst Herefordshire’s highest special responsibility allowance is £29,000, Kensington and Chelsea pays £56,000.

Include all other costs and it becomes obvious that ‘local democracy’ is very expensive. Do taxpayers get value for money?

Peter A Williams, Hereford

Litter issue

Increasingly we are suffering in Ledbury from overflowing litter bins throughout the town and despite the excellent efforts of the local council staff to remedy this unhygienic and unsightly action the Council and their contractors seem to take increasing time to remedy matters. This must be having an adverse impact on our visitors as well as the local residents and must be considered as a very poor approach to this very important part of the maintenance of our town.

I would like to know if this is an actual policy of the Council to defer this maintenance or is it a reflection of the inefficiency of Balfour Beatty, the Council contractors. I would be grateful if the Council could make a statement in response to this letter.

Michael Dobel, Ledbury

Painful wait

I have had excellent emergency care from Hereford County Hospital in the past and could not fault the professionalism and care of staff. However, since then I have required follow up ‘routine’ treatment and the waiting times for these is nothing short of abysmal. I do not blame the staff as I know they work very hard, but prolonged waiting times actually equates to more pain and stress for those awaiting treatment. While official cancer care times are very good, the Wye Valley Trust is 124 out of 127 for planned ops and care, which is disgraceful. What is being done about it? I see no local press campaigns or MP efforts to raise and address this issue. Lack of staff and resources are obviously an issue but I think there are also improvements in processes that can be made. Current processes just seem to be a means of stalling any action, a very minimum of 3-4 months for a 5-10 min initial consultation followed by referral to follow up tests/procedures each of which can take a very minimum of 3-4 months.

I know NHS staff care but patients are unnecessarily suffering and something need to be done urgently.

Roy Davies, Ledbury

Well done

We attended a performance of the Gang Show at The Courtyard last week, in which three of our grandchildren were taking part, and we wished, through your pages, to congratulate all those involved in the production, which was excellent.

The skill and hard work involved in preparing the show - rehearsals since last autumn, music. costumes and choreography - must have been enormous, and gave us a very professional result in which over 100 local young people showed their talents.

Well done to all involved!

Lorraine & Michael Latchem, Hereford

Join it up

A recent report by the Department of Transport forecast that by 2027 , traffic on all access roads into our towns and cities will be travelling more slowly than cyclists, and urged Ministers and Local Authorities to come up with much bolder proposals to help deal with this potentially disastrous situation.

Our present Conservative administration here in Hereford continue to tell us that a western relief road is the answer to our problems. Qualified engineers who attended the recent public meetings to discuss the proposed new road repeatedly stated that it would greatly increase the congestion on the city centre access roads, because of the extensive development being proposed throughout the county which could generate up to 30,000 extra vehicles within the next ten years. It goes without saying that the Conservative proposals will further aggravate the congestion, and at the same time do very little to enhance the much needed growth of our local economy, which clearly indicates that their current proposals are flawed.

Highway improvements only are clearly not the answer, and there needs to be far more joined-up thinking. We should be working with our MPs to get the local rail network modernised, and public transport generally substantially improved, thus reducing the ongoing threat of crippling congestion.

With the majority of local business people and Jesse Norman MP clearly supportive of an eastern relief road, let us hope that in the end common sense will prevail, because at the end of the day it is the long term prosperity of our county that is at stake.

Bob Matthews, Cllr, Credenhill Ward


I got another disappointing email from our MP, Jesse Norman. This time he was congratulating himself and Herefordshire for getting a grant to fill in the potholes.

This surely should just be a tiny part of the ongoing road maintenance, not a spectacular gain.

And, the second disappointing bit of his email was his highly congratulatory paragraph on ‘Herefordshire’s litter-picking expertise..’? what!!

The roads are filthy with rubbish that has lain and accumulated all winter.

Can we please have some foresight, forward thinking on new transport approaches not this 1960s approach of more roads, more cars, more litter, more congestion and slower journeys?

Freer Spreckley, Dorstone

Faith restored

It went some way to restoring my faith in people when I visited Hereford Cathedral on 4/4/18 to see the beautiful poppies with my daughter, granddaughter and a friend.

As I was making my way to the cathedral I fell over and a very kind gentleman came to our aid. He assisted me to my feet and I managed to shake his hand and say Thank You before he went on his way.

I am a pensioner of larger proportions and his assistance really made my day as did the visit to Hereford Cathedral.

Thank you so much whoever you are.

Jane Payne, Eastwick Park

Shared Lives

Regarding Mike Smith’s letter referring to a change of policy for “Shared Lives”; please note this service is provided by Herefordshire Council.

The City Council does not provide adult’s or children’s social services.

Steve Kerry, Town Clerk, City Council