Best friends can’t bus it

HAVING just returned from a walk in the Leominster area I am pleased to read in the Hereford Times of the award of Walkers are Welcome.

However there is a problem in that town concerning public transport and walkers.

Local bus companies provide a good service to the rural community, often with near-empty buses, but have an outright ban on dogs, other than assistance dogs.

This is frustrating to visitors who often walk with their four-legged friends and are not aware of the rule. Perhaps the bus companies will reconsider and allow responsible dog owners on board. It may generate a little more trade and help tourism.

JOHN DAWSON Westhide, Hereford

Sorry state of affairs

OVER the past few months I have noticed many changes in our town, such as there are overgrown plants and weeds everywhere.

Also I am very disappointed to see no flowers on roundabouts this year.

I do not see why my parents should pay money for nothing to be improved. I think the council needs to think wisely about spending money on things and whether they will be necessary.

I am also very upset to hear that several complaints about an overflowing drain at Elton’s Marsh, Canon Pyon Road.

It has not been fixed after people have complained.

There are obviously many people that are disgusted and so am I.

Potholes are everywhere too and there will be serious accidents if they are not filled. Thank you for reading my letter.

NADIA DOUTHWAITE, age 10, Elton’s Marsh, Canon Pyon Road

Let’s debate the cull now

Open letter to councillors and members of the scrutiny committee, calling for a debate and a vote in the appropriate following a petition submitted to the council against Defra’s plans to roll out its culling policy.

The petition stated: “We the undersigned petition the council to ban badger culling on Herefordshire council- owned land, and invest in local badger vaccination projects.

“We believe culling to be inhumane, inefficient and unscientific. This is a national issue which will be of direct concern to Herefordshire Council when Defra rolls out its culling policy in 2015.

“The object of the petition is to ensure that Herefordshire’s badger population is as safe as possible from slaughter and that the already available injectable badger vaccine against bTB is used in as many cases as possible.

“We ask this because we believe the culling policy is inhumane (Defra’s measurement of ‘humaneness’ is to time the screams of wounded badgers), inefficient (previous culls showed an increase in bTB because of badger movement) and unscientific (the majority of scientific opinion holds that a cull will have ‘no meaningful result’).”

I, and many other thousands like me, are horrified that thousands of badgers were recently killed in Gloucestershire and Somerset in a terminally misguided attempt to control TB in cattle.

It was a needless massacre driven by farmers and politicians. It is time that the badger stopped being a scapegoat.

In Herefordshire, we have a pilot vaccination project starting later this year with two lay vaccinators being trained, a small team of sett surveyors and cage baiters standing by, and a number of farmers who have agreed to allow their badgers to be vaccinated.

Although most of the costs are being borne by voluntary contributions, this initiative is partially supported by the Badger Trust. Bill Wiggin MP has stated his verbal support.

We are working on securing further funding, and Save Me has said it will support our pilot once it has attended to its priority areas of Gloucestershire and Somerset, where this inhumane cull is scheduled to continue later this year.

The qualified consensus – reached by the 10-year study by Independent Scientific Group – is that “badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the control of bovine TB in Britain.”

The lobby can attempt to demonise English wildlife all it wants, but the intensification of farming practices and the huge increase in cattle movements are reasons for the spread of this disease. Around 14 million cattle are moved across the UK each year – this number has quadrupled since 1999.

Dairy herd sizes have more than doubled since the 1970s – when bovine TB was at its lowest. There is a direct correlation between larger herd sizes and the spread of disease.

The rush to intensify animal agriculture has led to this disastrous situation.

Add to this unreliable bovine TB testing that is inaccurate in one-third of cases and you start to see the real causes of the problem.

Councils that have already banned culling in response to petitions include Derbyshire County Council, Hampshire County Council, Oxford City Council, Brighton and Hove City Council, Sheffield City Council, Eastleigh Borough Council, East Hertfordshire District Council, Horsham District Council.

Malvern Hills Conservators (a private body regulated by parliament and owning/managing over 3,000 acres in Worcestershire) has also banned culling as a direct result of a petition. Every single County Wildlife Trust in England (as well as many private landowners and farmers) has also stated it will not allow culling on land it owns.

My petition, including paper signatures, is the most popular Herefordshire Council has received since the beginning of 2013.

My petition has 1087 signatures and the next most popular one achieved 1001.

This petition is one of over 150 running across England and Wales, which demonstrates the strength of feeling nationally on the issue. We are aware of at least ten other councils in England (including four county councils) who will also be discussing a ban on culling (as a result of local petitions) within the next six weeks.

Please do what you can to stop this barbaric madness.

I look forward to hearing from you with details of what specific support you can offer.

SARA SILOKO Waggoner’s Way Hereford

Bin the borrowing

CLLR Bramer, in his letter published on April 17, Hereford Times , is not in command of his brief. He states that there will continue to be a weekly collection, alternately refuse and recycling, the same frequency as present.

He then states that the saving of £500,000 is to be achieved as fewer collections will be required each week.

These statements are contradictory.

In fact, I understand the proposal is that the black bins will be purchased with borrowed money paid back over 10 years.

Once the system becomes operational the saving should be achieved because the dust carts will be able to collect more as there will be no need for split bodied vehicles which need offloading when one compartment is full.

The increased capacity combined with the use of route optimisation software it is hoped will achieved the objective.

However, the amount of the loan required for purchase of the black bins, key to the scheme, is unknown.

No matter what the cost (and it will not be small) this is yet another example of Herefordshire Council turning to borrowed money in desperation. It is the same as an individual taking out yet another credit card when all his loans and credit cards are at their maximum limits (over £200 million for Herefordshire Council) to be able to continue spending.

We all know this is not sustainable and will only end in creating issues for residents in the future.

I would ask Herefordshire Council and those responsible for monitoring the council to cease this irresponsible form of financing which will only cause trouble for future generations.

ANDREW PACE Broxwood, Leominster.