A49 work?
WHEN the Herefordshire Council’s economic development strategy was discussed at the full council on Friday, December 16, I again emphasised that the council’s present infrastructure proposals were entirely inadequate and that there was very little chance of the local economy growing and providing the well-paid jobs so desperately needed unless the necessary improvements were carried out. 
It has been my view, and that of a large number of local businessmen, that the A49 Hereford to Ross highway should be developed into a full-blown dual carriageway to allow our businesses easy access to the motorway network, together with an eastern river crossing and greatly improved rail links.
I was therefore delighted to be informed by Cllr P Price, cabinet member for infrastructure that he was at present involved in talks with Highways England and other key bodies in respect of sections of the above mentioned road being upgraded to dual carriageway status, and that to date the talks had been very positive.
The Herefordshire Independents have argued for many years that this is the one major infrastructure improvement that could get this county moving, so let us hope that both of our MPs support the council in their bid to achieve these much needed improvements. 
Perhaps they could let us know if they are in support of this project?
I also strongly support the proposal within the strategy for two multi-storey car parks, one to the west and another to the east of the city, hopefully on the present bus station.
This, of course, would be great news for the staff and visitors to the adjoining county hospital and, at long last, offer some relief from the extortionate fees at present being charged on the hospital car parks. 
The situation has become even more urgent since the recent loss of the station approach car park. 
This would be great news for the staff and visitors to Hereford County Hospital, and would hopefully go some way in reducing the car park charges in that area of the city.
May I take this opportunity of wishing everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year on behalf of all Herefordshire Independent Councillors.
Councillor, Credenhill Ward. Leader, Herefordshire Independents.
Traffic worry
CONGRATULATIONS to Herefordshire Council planning department for once again adding to Hereford city congestion. 
The addition of a fuel retail operation at Hereford Asda has created a major tailback on the Victoria bridge as vehicles turning into Asda block the right hand lane, while Hereford motorists sit in the left of the two lanes for the A465 Abergavenny road, seemingly unwilling to use the Zip junction as it is supposed to be used. The superstore should never have been built on the Belmont roundabout, and was probably only approved because Asda paid for flood defences on the roundabout. 
We are also suffering roadworks on Edgar Street, with a road which seems to be going nowhere in particular.
As someone who has lived in Hereford for 50+ years I am sure the only solution to Hereford’s traffic problem is a new ring road, with a river crossing. 
It would be helpful if the MP for Hereford would also back such a bypass, and lobby for funding, although I understand that this risks upsetting some voters. Those opposing a Hereford ring road are mostly people worried about their own property prices, and they hide behind environmental issues to avoid being declared NIMBYS.

Centre’s value
HOSPITAL bosses are asking people not to go to A&E (as reported on the Hereford Times website on December 8) due to the amount of people attending, advising them to go to walk-in centres. 
Surely this proves how important the likes of Asda’s walk-in centre is, which was the subject of being closed earlier this year. 
What folly that would have been! 

Strategy error
I WONDER how many members of Herefordshire Council watched Countryfile last Sunday and whether they felt any shame when Staffordshire council extolled the virtues of their county smallholding estate and the value that it is to the whole community, financially as well as socially.
Staffordshire has focused on a long-term management strategy for their farms and have a viable and productive asset that continues to show returns. What a contrast to the continuous decline, devaluing and ultimate destruction of Herefordshire’s county farms. 
Having been tenants from the mid 1970s until four years ago, we have witnessed the slide from a well-managed estate with tenant and landlord as partners, through gradual neglect, to an outright determination to rid the council of its farms.
I appreciate that individual councillors have done their best to fight this policy but as a body they have squandered this county’s assets, ignored the intrinsic value of its fine productive land and under-valued the long tradition of farming in Herefordshire.
The current tenants, who have been treated disgracefully, have born the brunt of this debacle but the county as a whole should hang its head in shame.

In gratitude
EARLY on Monday morning, December 5, I was taken ill here at Abbeydore. Within a very short time, two amazing paramedics  were here to assess  me and rush me into Hereford County Hospital with a suspected stroke.  Upon arriving at the hospital, I was rushed into trauma where again I was met by a fantastic doctor and caring professional team of nurses and quickly had a scan. I was given this new and life-saving drug. Thank you, trauma team you saved my life.
I was then sent up to the Wye acute stroke ward where I was treated with such professional care and kindness both by the doctors, nurses and occupational therapist. There are no words to thank you all for your kindness. My message is, if you have a stroke, be confident our County Hospital is second to none.
Thank you County Hospital and God Bless You 

Sad for NHS
AS I read Bill Wiggins’ column and letter (HT, Dec 8) I wondered, as so often is the case, if he and I live in the same country.
I see a health service with hard pressed staff desperately trying to cope with excess demand and too few resources. Conservative and Liberal cuts to local authority funding (set to continue for the term of this parliament) have reduced the capacity to get the old and vulnerable out of hospital and into effective care. Marketisation has diverted resources from the front line into a wasteful tendering bureaucracy and private profits.
As A&E departments struggle and waiting lists grow, the current Conservative government has responded by blaming the Labour Party and picking a fight with junior doctors.
Almost all health trusts have reported deficits; £20.5 million by our own Wye Valley Trust, bed numbers are continuing to fall nationally and mental health, already the ‘Cinderella service’ has seen a real term reduction in spending per person. 
Some very modest rises in numbers of front-line staff do not alter the facts that Britain spends below the European average of GDP on Health, and has fewer doctors and far fewer beds per person.
Like many others I am deeply grateful for the care that I, and my family, have received from the NHS and deeply saddened by the predicament currently faced by patients and staff alike.

Delius visited
YOUR article on the Green Dragon being on the market brought to mind a connection between my grandfather Leslie Heins and the great composer Frederick Delius.
My family had a music shop in Broad Street for almost 100 years and my grandfather sang in the cathedral choir. 
Almost opposite is the Queen’s Arms pub. 
A young man from the pub also sang in the choir and they were good mates.
Delius stayed at the hostelrie and struck up a friendship with the lads. 
They took him on their favourite walks; once along the River Wye bank to Breinton and on another occasion to Dinedor Camp. He regaled them with stories about his travels and would tell them to pause and be silent to listen to the sounds of nature all around them.
My grandfather recalled how Delius talked about his socialist principles and moaned about the so-called ‘smart set’ at the Green Dragon. 
The year was almost certainly 1909 when Delius conducted his ‘Dance Rhapsody No 1’ as part of the Three Choirs Festival. 
I have enjoyed several events at the Green Dragon in my lifetime but wonder what Delius would think now of its £3.5 million price tag!

Such kindness
WE paid a trip to Hereford on December 22 where my wife had the misfortune to trip and fall in Widemarsh Street. 
Immediately a young man, who said that he was an Accident & Emergency doctor, rushed to her aid, a young nurse also came over as well. 
As we got my wife her to her feet and made sure that she was all right, another lady made sure that our shopping was safe. 
We would like to thank these people so much for their concern and say how lucky we were that there are such lovely people in Hereford.

Can’t respond
POLLY Ernest has written an Open Letter purporting to set out a private conversation she and I had at a recent constituency surgery of mine, about the rights of non-British EU citizens living in the UK.
Unfortunately, I am unable to respond in any detail to her letter, because all my communications with constituents are and must always remain entirely confidential. 
But, as Ms Ernest will be aware, I do not accept her version of the conversation, and neither does the member of my staff who was also present.

Hard workers
WE hear so many moans about the NHS this days.
However I have just had a quite serious operation at Hereford County Hospital.
I have been absolutely amazed at the quality of treatment, from the time the operation was offered until I went in. 
Everyone at that hospital works extremely hard.
The backup before and after has been amazing.
I can only thank them from the bottom of my heart.
As a community we should all do all we can to preserve this hospital.
My thanks again.

Fracking issue
I WAS very pleased to see that Herefordshire Council recently debated fracking in Herefordshire and resolved ‘to write to the Secretary of State to ask the Government to consider withholding any licence which would allow fracking and any associated hydrocarbon extraction processes in or under Herefordshire’s vitally important Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty’. 
This seems to me a small but significant first step towards protecting the beautiful landscape of Herefordshire which I’m sure all your readers cherish highly. 
However, it was frankly mystifying that Conservative councillors refused to protect the whole of Herefordshire from fracking. 
Surely the threat to our water supplies, the air pollution, noise pollution, traffic pollution, increased risk of earthquakes, reductions in property values and all the other risks that councillors identified during their debate as being associated with fracking are the same for all of us, wherever we live in this beautiful county?
In the latest opinion polls, 83% of the British public are against fracking and only 17% in favour. 
Bearing in mind that local MP, Jesse Norman is the relevant Secretary of State for fracking, it will be interesting to see if he, too, believes that Herefordshire should be protected from this noxious industry.
Much Dewchurch

So generous
I would like to thank all the generous people in Herefordshire who helped us reach our 2016 target of £80,000 for St Michael’s Hospice.
Since 2003, the Hospice Angels have raised some £400,000 and, knowing the amazing care given to people with life-limiting illnesses, hopefully we are able to continue to help in our own way.
As they say, we want to ‘put something back’ in 2017.
Mike PullIn BEM