Not just a stat
ON November 3, the Hereford TimesHereford Times published a report of an inquest into the death of Josephine Christie.
Here, her sister Mandy Lawrence remembers the person she knew, behind the facts.
My sister Josephine Joy Christie, aged 57, fell down the stairs and died on June 5, 2016. Her high alcohol intake was a contributory factor and she had been diagnosed with a bipolar condition in her early 20s. She is now part of statistical data about alcohol abuse and mental health. 
Jo was so much more than a statistic. She was funny, compassionate, intelligent. She could ‘light up a room’ when in a good place. She could stay in bed, unable to communicate, when not.
Jo had an admirable career. When she qualified as a law costs draughts person, she was first in the national examination of that year. She stopped work to support my caring for our elderly parents and she never recovered from their deaths in 2012 and 2013.
Jo loved words; she read and wrote. She was re-reading Dostoevsky when she died. 
Some years ago, she wrote about her bipolar condition in a way that now seems prophetic.
‘I will see and hear and touch
Breathe and taste and know too much
When I learn the use of such 
A multitudinous choice
Listen for my broken voice
I don’t know what is in store’
I am grateful to the coroner’s court staff for their courteous respect. I thank Hereford TimesHereford Times for giving me this space. 
Behind every statistic, there is a person. Jo Christie is much mourned and her life is celebrated.
I will publish a small collection of Jo’s poems next year. No charge but donations will be sent to a local animal sanctuary. If you would like a copy contact Mandy Lawrence 
Hunderton Avenue 

Priceless NHS
I AM writing in reply to a letter in the Hereford TimesHereford Times on November 24. 
In response to Diana Toynbee of Tower Hill, Hereford, and her comments about the NHS I strongly disagree that it is the Conservative government who is privatising the NHS. In fact the obsession with the private sector is a smokescreen. Let us not forget that, during last year’s election campaign, it was the then Labour leader’s desire to ‘weaponise’ the NHS. Labour are the party that introduced privatisation to the NHS. The process of creating public and private partnerships was particularly prevalent during the Labour years up to 2010. 
The total bill for NHS Private Finance Initiative contracts signed under Labour is more than £80 billion. All bar one of the hospital PFI deals were signed by Labour governments between 1997 and 2010. These are costing the NHS nearly £2 billion per year in unitary charge payments. The bills are now so vast that they would pay for the entire wage bill of all qualified midwives for over two years. 
I agree with Ms Toynbee’s assertion that the NHS is priceless, and the Conservatives are the ones trying to make it work. This government is spending over half a trillion pounds on the NHS – which is a record level of investment in our health service. And the NHS is responding well, since 2010 more patients are being treated, more operations are taking place, and there are more doctors and nurses on our wards. While we are investing in the NHS and its future, Labour is the only party who recommended cutting funding for the NHS.
I know that Labour hate it when Conservatives care about the NHS but I am not going to stop visiting our hospital. I shall continue to work with our GPs and praise our caring staff and thank them for the work they do, no matter how much it upsets Ms Toynbee or the Labour party!
North Herefordshire

Street scene
WHILE I hope that traders in Leominster do win the Great British High Street competition, the Leominster Business Group must have found it very difficult to steer the judges away from the negative aspects of shopping in Leominster. While the majority of retailers in Leominster provide good quality products from attractive premises, there are, unfortunately, quite a few shopkeepers (or their landlords) who appear to hold the view that well maintained and presented premises are not an important element in attracting custom, and that they have no responsibility towards other retailers who do their very best to project the town centre as somewhere worth visiting. 
Equally, it could be said that Herefordshire Council, who should be setting an example by providing and maintaining an attractive street scene, are failing in their duty to retailers, pedestrians and motorists alike.
Decaying premises might well deter someone from shopping, but badly constructed and poorly maintained roads and pavements are not only an eyesore, but potentially dangerous, and pose perhaps the biggest threat to winning the award that some at least of our retailers deserve.
Oldfields Close

Pigeon attacks
RE Peregrine group fight back in pigeons row. 
So I take it that the hawks can attack and kill my pet pigeons and I should just sit back and watch it happen? 
I keep fancy pigeons and they have been attacked seven times in the last month. Five pet birds killed. Two birds missing.That’s acceptable?
Castle Hill

Pothole repair
ON Friday, November 18, Balfour Beatty were attempting to repair several potholes in Michaelchurch Escley. There were three vehicles and six uninterested-looking operatives, a hot box and two pick-up trucks. The next day I stopped to inspect their work and it was already breaking up. 
They had also left two potholes, close-by untouched.
Following the monsoon rainstorm on November 21, the team were again present attempting to clear a blocked 9in pipe which I had reported back in the summer. The same day, by Longtown Post Office, another three nearly new trucks and six operatives were wasting their time trying to unblock previously reported blocked drains in appalling conditions. 
Is it unfair to expect these workers to attempt to deal with problems when they’re reported before they become disaster areas? 
There appears to be enormous amounts of tax-payers’ money being wasted on expensive vehicles and incapable operatives who have no notion of how to deal with the job in hand. Our roads are fast becoming Third-World tracks, despite the increased revenue to Herefordshire Council from our pockets. 
How long can this madness go on and why are ‘we’, the public, not doing anything about it?
Michaelchurch Escley

NHS praise
THIS letter is unusual in that it is praising the NHS Service in Herefordshire.
On Monday morning, the nursing home where my mother was resident had the need to call an ambulance for my mother.
The paramedic Nicky and technician Naomie examined her and put her on oxygen
My mother did not want to go to hospital, it was decided to await a doctor. The crew awaited the doctor, as to take her off oxygen would have resulted in her dying.The doctor persuaded her to go to A & E.
The crew phoned the hospital to get an immediate examination and she was rushed through to a cubicle, where the doctors, nurses and consultants did everything they could, and at all times treated her with compassion and respect.
Although the outcome was not good, as she died, I would still like to thank all the staff on the afternoon of Monday, November 28, not forgetting the ambulance crew.
Thank you.

Library shame
I AM saddened by the news that Herefordshire Council plans to run the library service in unsuitable buildings – a hospital has been mentioned – and by volunteers.
This is extremely short-sighted – trying to provide a “library service” on the cheap.  It can’t be done.  
I have asked Herefordshire Council to join forces with the planned new university, unsuitably named NMite (“N” might not I think), in order to provide a library service in the county similar to The Hive in Worcester.  
I have had no alternative but to join The Hive and travel regularly from Ledbury station to Foregate Street, visit The Hive for all the books I could ever wish for, use the internet for as long as I like, sit and read the newspapers and periodicals, shop in Worcester, return to The Hive for coffee or lunch and to request help for research from the team of professional librarians.  
It is a real community asset, a hive of activity and encourages students and the local community to the centre of the city. 
I fail to understand how Hereford can function without a library service when it plans to become a university city.
Lack of investment in Hereford has left us all poorer.

Fallow deer
DUE to the fantastic response about my fallow deer buck picture in the Hereford TimesHereford Times on Thursday, November 17, anyone wishing to purchase a signed limited edition copy, can do so by contacting the Framing Workshop, Melrose Place, Hereford on 01432 355502.

Rail ‘madness’
YOU may not think that this will affect you, but I expect it to. 
Many more people use the trains now, and that eases congestion on the roads, and brings increased profits to the rail companies. 
This is an ex-bus driver’s observation on the introduction of driver-only trains. 
Dealing with the driving of the vehicle, and its safety, and problems of passengers, and issuing/checking tickets was enough to do on a bus with usually under 50 people on board. 
On a train, with hundreds of passengers, it would be safety madness in my opinion. 
Travel would also not be as pleasant, without a ticket inspector/conductor to answer questions. At the moment travelling by train is one of the safest options for a young person, do we want that to change? 
The government has the power to ensure our safety, where are they in this? The rail companies know that if they can break resistance in the busy South-East, they can introduce driver-only trains to the rest of the country with ease. 
Don’t leave it just to the unions to object.

MP surgeries
READERS will be delighted to know we live in a parliamentary constituency with few problems.
The average MP spends some 25 hours a quarter on constituency surgeries. Hereford MP Jesse Norman seems to have spent about six hours in the last quarter. He won’t actually answer how few. 
Even better news is that while most MPs list their surgery dates three months or more ahead on their websites (eg Harriet Baldwin in neighbouring West Worcestershire) , Mr Norman has none listed for 2017 suggesting he expects our contentment to continue.

Traffic lights
TRAFFIC lights – are they ‘friend or foe’?
We, in Tenbury Wells, are blessed with the implementation of three-way ‘traffic lights’ again regulating us in and out of the gateway of Tenbury, as in Teme Bridge! 
Presumably this is to aid the construction of Tesco.
In my view, at peak traffic time i.e. 07.30hrs-09.30hrs ‘traffic signals’ on the bridge actually ease the flow of vehicles in and out of town. I say let’s keep them!  
Tenbury Wells

Road mayhem
WHEN are our councillors going to wake up and do something about the traffic problems in and around Worcester.
Land was purchased in the 1950/60s in Hallow, for instance, for the proposed ring road, we have the Northern Link but no Southern to complete the circle.
More building is scheduled west of the city, eg more than 1,000 homes near Rushwick. 
Without the Southern link all will have to go via town or A4440!
Common sense dictates a new bridge to replace the old, and weak, Holt bridge and dual carriageway to Ombersley Road would ease the situation.