Taking its toll
SUCH is the deplorable condition of the county’s roads, funded as they are by a cash-stream based on our population rather than the traffic which uses them, that it becomes clearer and clearer every day that this cash-stream is simply insufficient to keep the roads in an acceptable condition.
One might add here that, not only are the road surfaces dreadful, but so are the numerous manhole covers which have – unrepaired – sunk below the surrounding road surface and administer a hefty bang to all passing traffic.
When are these, too, going to be repaired by their owners – who presumably are responsible for them? (I except those covers maintained by British Telecom/Openreach, which in my experience, are well kept.)
The obvious answer is to erect machines at all the county’s borders at which all ‘foreign’ vehicles would be required to pay for a pass to travel on the county’s roads. (Herefordshire’s Council Tax payers would of course be supplied with a pass by County Office.) The Income from this toll would be hypothecated to highway and manhole cover repairs.
As things stand at the moment our roads will soon descend into a state comparable with late 18th century toll roads, and no likely amount of future investment will enable repairs to catch up, certainly not to restore the roads to the state they were in ten years ago, and I recall that they weren’t so marvellous even then.

I FULLY endorse Kenneth Williams’ comments (Hereford Times, October 27) regarding the poor state of our county roads, particularly relating to the absolutely disgraceful condition of white-lining and cat’s eyes. 
I have, over recent weeks, for example, travelled several times from Eardisland to Malvern Theatres, via Bromyard and the B4220, and can confirm that for much of this journey white lines are almost non-existent or hardly visible, and such cat’s eyes as there seem to be do not function. 
On the few stretches where both are fairly new, the difference is amazing and one can drive with confidence. 
Does Herefordshire Council not have a statutory obligation to maintain our roads according to good safety standards, or Balfour Beatty a contractual obligation to do so? 
If not, why not? 
I challenge all of our county councillors to drive an unfamiliar route in the county at night and see if they can honestly say that they felt comfortable doing so.
As to Mr Williams’ second point, surely it would only require one or two operatives in a small lorry permanently to drive around the county cleaning dirty bollards, replacing broken ones, cleaning dirty road signs, clearing obscuring foliage, etc, using their own initiative?
Rather than large, costly and doubtfully useful vanity projects, why does not our council concentrate on the smaller, essential tasks?

Traffic issue
I WAS introduced to the National Farmers Union: ‘our vision’ to create a small holding estate that celebrates Herefordshire’s rich farming heritage and environment while performing with credibility in today’s economic climate. 
Why close the last farm within Hereford’s city boundaries and build 1,200 houses to support the local community and the environment? 
Our roads cannot cope with traffic jams. They create pollution to the environment and our children’s health will be at risk. There will be more chest problems so say no to the Three Elms development. Save our children’s heritage and say no to this development. Let’s build a bridge and clear the traffic and make Hereford safe again.
Is this problem going to last until the next general election?
Will Jesse Norman use this as another campaign idea? 
Then the building of a bridge off Hampton Park Road into Rotherwas will link up to the A49 south which will be cheaper.

Lighten up
JUST a simple open question, is anyone ever positive about Kington? As demonstrated by the two letters in last week’s Hereford Times.
Firstly, one particular killjoy moaning about Jolly’s Circus being in town. I have attended many times, and it is always a joy. Contrary to popular myth, the animals are very, very well looked after, and almost lap up the applause, showing off rather like a dog, when it wags its tail. Not much harm there.
Secondly, the lady who wants the council to waste even more money putting a totally unnecessary pavement along the by-pass. If she’s visually impaired, I apologise, but it is plainly obvious to everyone else that there is a perfectly good footpath along the old Eardisley road, which surprise, surprise actually brings you out into town.

Super staff
RECENTLY my 16-month-old daughter was taken ill and consequently spent a number of days in the Hereford County Hospital Children’s Ward. 
Being so young, it was an emotional and challenging time.
I would just like to publicly say how impressed and appreciative my family and I were to all of the staff on the children’s ward. Their levels of professionalism and relentless care meant that my daughter had a speedy recovery and we are very thankful she is causing mischief as normal!
I feel it is important to promote and be thankful for all the good that is going on in our local hospital rather than focusing on the negatives that the employees there are trying their best to work with.
Well done to such a proficient team for looking after our little girl and thank you.
Scholars Walk

Historic drink
IN respect to the letter regarding Hellens, I note that Queen Anne came to the throne upon March 8, 1702.
The First Viscount Scudamore of Holme Lacy [1601- 1671] “ is credited with identifying a particular red streaked Herefordshire apple, which exhibited especial properties when its juice was fermented and turned into the alcoholic drink termed Cider”.
He grafted and developed the variety for commercial production. 
Within the time of the Second Viscount [1650-1697] the production was being turned from a cloudy gaseous weak drink, into a clear cider of orange tinge, flat and strong in the manner of a fine wine. 
A sophisticated drink that Scudamore introduced to his wide circle of discerning friends within tall thin glass flutes made and engraved with his coat of arms. There is one on display within the Victoria & Albert. 
Recognising that cider was best kept stored within a cool place of even temperature, he created Parkland Cellars, and routed spring water to pass through them. 
My Holme Lacy lands contain some of the original Scudamore trees. I have intermittently been making cider and perry for my own consumption for more than half a century. 
Holme Lacy

Bypass plea
THE continuing chaos at the traffic lights in Leominster following the current, long-running road works only goes to underline the folly of routing heavy traffic, particularly quarry and Shobdon traffic, through the centre of this historic town. 
Surely a Leominster East-West bypass cannot be beyond the capabilities of both central and local governments to organise and pay for, rather than wasting their money on expensive white elephant schemes like Heathrow expansion? 
A cost of just £9 million was quoted in your 2009 report on this subject.
East St

Short term
I FEEL Keith Taylor (Letters Hereford Times, Thursday, October 27) is being too kind when he writes of a lack of understanding on the part of civil servants who approved the PFI scheme which has led to the exorbitant parking charges at Hereford Hospital.
Not too long ago, in the Hereford Times, the Wye Valley NHS Trust CEO wrote “if the PFI deal were done today the Trust would look very closely at the contract details”. 
This somewhat disingenuous statement appears to suggest that pertinent details were given only a cursory glance at the time of approval. Not an explanation that exactly fills tax and rate-payers with confidence in one’s local and elected representatives.
There were serious warnings as to the massive, un-warranted and ruinous costs to both tax and rate-payers over many decades as a result of PFI contracts, on their introduction by Gordon Brown. 
Tony Blair, at the time, was too pre-occupied with what he saw as reflected glory of what he then foolishly referred to “as an end to boom and bust”, to bother with the niceties of strenuous examination of the details. 
Local leaders were often only too happy to attach their names to prestigious projects.
Civil servants were not lacking in understanding; for short-term personal glory, they were dismissive of the catastrophic results.

Surprise party
I WOULD like to make an appeal through your letters page for any relative/friend who would know my mother, Gabrielle Freeman (previously Minchin, her mother: Eva Sparrow) to contact us. 
It is her 90th birthday on November 19 and we are having a surprise party to mark the occasion. 
Unfortunately we, her children, do not know any of her family on the mother/father’s side and would be delighted if there could be a reunion. The family had lived in Bosbury and Much Marcle. Mum was born on Chase End Hill, Malvern, had a brother Clifford Minchin, who died in an unfortunate accident near Ledbury
Mum had worked with the Red Cross at Berrington Hall, Brockhanpton Court and Ross Cottage Hospital, before marrying Henry Bert Freeman of Hope Mansell, Ross on Wye.
We are holding a party at Walford Memorial Hall, Walford, Ross on Wye on the afternoon of November 19, 3.30-7.30 p.m. No presents please as donations are being taken for Cancer Research or The Red Cross, should anyone wish to. 
Contact us: Sally on 01594 563742 or at Little Meadow, Oakwood Road, Bream, Lydney, GL15 6HS;or Darion on 01594 810714. 

Spending cuts
CONGRATULATIONS to Glynis Dray (Article on Thursday, October 27) for taking prompt action when she came across some overgrown footpaths near Titley. Your report highlights three important points. 
First, as she says, let us use our footpaths or we will surely lose them.
Secondly, Herefordshire Council has cut back on rights-of-way spending to a level which endangers the whole network. These days, there are no dedicated rights-of-way wardens and the Balfour Beatty locality stewards often have other priorities. The way forward is simple: reallocate to the rights-of-way budget  just  a tiny fraction of the £8m to be recovered from Amey (rights of way was part of their brief) and that would make a huge difference to this struggling service, which is vital for attracting more visitors to the county and developing the local economy.
Finally, Glynis Dray’s experience illustrates the value of the local lengthsman and P3 footpath schemes. And what are the council’s plans for these excellent local services which provide outstanding value for money? Why, scrap them of course! What madness.
Chairman - Herefordshire Ramblers
Chairman - Herefordshire Local Access Forum
Eign Road

Jobs needed
There is much talk about the need for housing increases in Herefordshire. 
What seems to be lacking in all respects are jobs locally to go with the related population increase. 
Hereford as a county town is not blessed with adequate or significant road or rail connections. 
When compared with Norwich, Cambridge, Warwick, Northampton, Worcester etc we will not attract commuters. 
Local industry is not a provider of very many skilled or well paid jobs for the present population so new residents will face many problems relative to re-locating else where. 
Hereford first needs to emerge from its agricultural past and push hard a relevant commercial job-focused strategy that actually works.

WHY does Mr Johnson believe that he and his new group know more about the housing needs of the local community than the developers at Three Elms? 
If you are building 1,300 houses, mainly for sale, it would be prudent to meet the local need, or they will stay empty. 
I suspect this is an attempt to interfere, slow things down, try to avoid anything happening. 
It is Mr Johnson who is ignoring the pressing need for housing in Hereford.
Sutton St Nicholas