Plan spending

I CAN well imagine the sort of discussions going on at county council level whenever the vexed question of traffic congestion crops up and how successive lots of councillors come to the conclusion that they have to do something – or risk being replaced at the next election. In the light of there being only 15% of through traffic involved in the rush hour snarl-ups, it doesn’t seem to me that there can have been been an objective analysis of the pros and cons of a western relief road or, indeed, of an eastern one.Until I came to live near the city, I never really gave this much thought but I find I am thinking about it almost daily now. A “SWOT” (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of either of the relief road options indicates that there is only a rather minor strength (that of re-routing 15% of total traffic), a great many weaknesses, threats and virtually no opportunities. The enormous cost of building either relief road and especially the western one together with all the probable cost over-runs should be making our councillors very uneasy about their personal responsibility for getting this right. They will mostly be long gone by the time any actual work begins and others will reap the whirlwind.

Who will then pay for the cost over-runs, the unforeseen traffic problems on the new roads themselves and the awful environmental damage incurred in the process of road construction and subsequent loss of amenity? Worcester was considered to have a similar problem; a relief road was built and being a single carriageway wide, it became a traffic jam all of its own. It has often taken longer to get round that city and onwards than it did before, when it involved going through the middle. It’s now mainly dual carriageway and must have cost far more than originally envisaged.

“Plan A” was an eastern relief road; this was favoured by the Highways Agency but ruled out because of the Lugg Meadows SSI.

“Plan B” seems to be a yet-uncosted western route.

Maybe Herefordshire Council should take note of the city’s views on this. After all, Hereford City Council like myself are “thinking traffic” every day; this is OUR backyard and we are coming to believe in what may yet be a better “Plan C” which might involve a link from Rotherwas to the Ledbury Road and/or a light tramway system. If there really is money to do “something” at least let’s do something sensible which stands up to an objective SWOT analysis.


We back refs

FURTHER to the report and ‘editorial comment’ in the Hereford Times (October 13) I would like to say that the Herefordshire Football Association (HFA) is fully supportive of referees and the excellent service they give to the game. The HFA takes immediate action when it receives a report of any ’assault’ or misconduct towards a match official. In the instance of an alleged assault the player is suspended immediately from all football.  The due process set up by the Football Association has to be followed, in which a disciplinary commission must hear the case within 28 days. In a case where the charge is found proven the penalty is a sine die suspension from all football with no possible review within a minimum of five years.

It is always very disturbing and thankfully a very rare occurrence when an assault takes place on a referee but the positive element is that County FA always act immediately to remove that person from the game. The vast majority of players appreciate the value that a referee contributes to the game and that referees are in the game because of their love of the game.

I can only reiterate that anyone who assaults a referee will be removed from the game.

JIM LAMBERT CEO of the Herefordshire FA

Kind strangers

I WOULD like to say a very big thank you to all the kind people who came to my aid when I fell in Widemarsh Street in Hereford on October 6. Special thanks to the gentleman who fetched me a chair and a mug of tea as the fall shook me up. It was so kind of everyone. Thankfully I am feeling better.

Mrs J PODMORE Marden

Circus animals

HAVING visited Jolly Circus, I would just like to say what a pleasure it was to see such fit, healthy, happy looking animals with such a good rapport with their trainer. I wonder if Animal Defenders International ADI had been to visit them.

PENELOPE CORBETT Shobdon, Leominster

Net bothered

IN REGARDS to Broadband Provision in Herefordshire, Mr Geoff Field of Dilwyn is “enjoying the relative peace and quiet of having no broadband service”. While he waits for BT to connect him.

Why not enjoy peace and quiet as the norm? Why conform to the bogus need to be online etc. Life is perfectly possible without it – believe me!

Yours, happily living without email internet, Blackberries, iPads etc.


Poor county

YOU know who you are. Herefordshire is a very poor county. The majority of the population is employed however the majority of the employed earn well below the national average. We have a sparse population and a large county. The government has said that every county council must be self-sufficient by the year 2020 – that’s just over three years away. This is why parking charges have been introduced.

Housing benefit has been reduced and will be further slashed. At some point soon the small business rates relief scheme will be withdrawn making many small businesses unviable and the remainder will have to raise their prices, eventually resulting in their demise.

The hospital in Hereford, already under special measures, will not be in receipt of any extra funding. The social services, already unable to keep up will be put under even more strain – putting elderly, handicapped and infirm people at greater risk.

So I ask you this question. Still glad you voted Tory?

ANNIE MACDOUGALL Upper Hill, Leominster


IN THE September 1 edition of the Hereford Times the Big Picture was of Garway Hill, claiming it to be Herefordshire’s highest point. This is incorrect; the county’s highest point is on its border with Powys along Hatterall Ridge in the Black Mountains. At 703m above sea level this is almost double the height of Garway Hill and actually makes Herefordshire the fifth highest county in England.  There are a number of other hills in the county that also dwarf Garway Hill, but as a keen hill-walker and photographer few can match its magnificent 360-degree views.


Careless rider

THIS is a message to the cycling group who were riding in Three Elms at 10:50 am on October 8. You were riding three abreast, with absolutely no attention to other road users. When I eventually managed to safely pass some of you and stop at Widemarsh Common roundabout, one of your group collided into the rear of my car. I informed the young gentleman in no uncertain terms, that he was a complete menace (among other things). His response – “What’s the problem? There’s no damage.” Cyclists frequently complain they are given little consideration but this incident illustrates that some cyclists feel they are exempt from observing the rules of the road.

I pay road tax, have a driving licence and crucially, pay insurance. This particular individual was clearly unfamiliar with the Highway Code and didn’t even know where the brakes on his cycle were located as he failed to use them when he ploughed into the back of my stationary car, causing a dent and scratches.

So, to the bearded, lycra-clad individual who needs urgently to attend a cycling proficiency course, if you will kindly contact me via the Hereford Times, your invoice awaits you.


Very generous

OUR family wants to thank a very special person for rescuing our holiday. To celebrate our mother’s 90th birthday, we were visiting the UK. At Windsor Castle, in broad daylight, our luggage was stolen from our locked vehicle. Later on, needing basic essentials, we stopped at Hereford’s Marks & Spencer where the manager insisted on covering the costs of replacing our “basics”.

That generosity was unbelievable – above and beyond good customer service! A big “shout out” and thank you from the Burnes Family in Canada.


Housing gaffe

I AM writing to query why Herefordshire Council is allowing extensive renovations and new builds to pass through the planning process with no commitment to renewable energy. Worse – they are failing to challenge developers and individuals who are installing electric heating.

As usual the council website is full of bravado – partnerships, keeping warm strategies etc. Yet they are not appearing to enforce basic planning guidelines at any new build or renovation properties I have visited recently. Electricity is twice as polluting as mains gas, and about 75% more polluting than heating oil. It is the reason so many people are in fuel poverty.

Yet the most basic protection for reducing future carbon use – planning law – is being ignored. Once a house is built, we are building these poor decisions in for decades.

The UK is already far behind the rest of Europe with the quality of its built homes and at present Herefordshire seems to lag far behind the rest of even the UK. Why do house-owners appear not to even be aware of the requirements necessary to develop properties to the correct standards? Because they are not being enforced...


State of roads

WITH the ever shortening nights and the onset of the end of British Summer Time, more and more journeys are being done in the dark. The poor state of our county roads becomes even more noticeable: absence of central white lines, cats eyes that don’t shine, and especially missing white lines at the edge of the carriageway or reflector edge of road markers to give you a guideline when dazzled by oncoming headlights.

This is all exacerbated by foliage obscuring or covering road signs – even where hedges are trimmed, road signs are still covered as the big hedge-cutters can’t get near the road signs. I am not talking about country lanes; this applies to most of the county’s A and B roads. Can we ask the highways department to get on with making our roads safe for drivers by fixing these simple little problems?

Especially of course those roads with a history of accidents.

KENNETH WILLIAMS East Street, Pembridge

Parking fees

THE recent national and regional news highlights the excessive parking charges at Hereford County Hospital, which impact on the most vulnerable, the sick, the old and the injured. Whilst the charges are the result of the PFI scheme acclaimed by the government of the day, it shows the lack of understanding by the civil servants who approved it.

At the hospital the questions on charges are answered by “it’s to deter shoppers”, but who parks there when city centre parks are over 60% cheaper? Attempts to obtain information on how much profit is given to help hospital services have failed. ,Concessionary rates are only for those on benefits.

The PFI is held by Sodexo – a French company who have little interest in helping those in need and the claim that no increases have been made in over three years shows what excessive profits have been generated. It is time the county citizens took action to force reductions in the penalties imposed on the sick, old and infirm.

KEITH TAYLOR Peterchurch

Tar for surface

WALKING along High Street recently I stopped to see how the work outside Boots was progressing. I have to congratulate the council officers responsible for the project and the contractors carrying out the work on a fine achievement. The setts have been re-laid with precision and will, I am sure, be a pleasure to drive on.

The piece-de-resistance, however, is the irregular strip of rough tarmac between Boots and the newly re-laid surface. The imaginative contrasts of colour, texture and even level and the sinuous shape between the tarmac strip and road surface are most artistic, perhaps a fine example of post-modern deconstructionalism.

Well done to all involved in the project. Or is it simply yet another example of Herefordshire Council setting a low standard that it seldom manages to achieve? Surely not.