Pause to think
THE news that Herefordshire Council has again failed to get funding to progress a bypass should make us all stop to think. 
Do we want to solve our traffic problems right now, or would we prefer to suffer another 20 years in traffic jams as we wait for them to find the money?
Most of Hereford’s traffic is internal. Half of all Hereford’s car journeys are less than two miles long. 
We could now switch our efforts to dealing with internal traffic and the two-mile journeys which would never use a bypass anyway. 
This is much easier, faster and cheaper to fix.
This isn’t about forcing everyone to use a bike either. Just a small reduction in internal traffic could make the rest of it flow freely, as it does in school holidays.
Our politicians haven’t managed to deliver a bypass for decades. 
Do we trust them to deliver in the next five years when government won’t even fund a survey?
Why are we still waiting? Why not solve our traffic issues now? 
A city wide 20mph limit along with a proper, well-designed bike network, free school-buses and better pedestrian facilities would make it easier and safer for our children to get to school and all of us to walk or cycle every now and then.
With air pollution a major factor in ill-health for both young and old, even a small reduction in traffic volumes could reduce pressure on our underfunded NHS too, by making us all a little bit fitter, healthier and happier. 
We could start right now, but we need councillors who ‘get it’.
Hereford Green Party
Park Street

Road relief
THE so-called blow to Herefordshire Council’s bypass plans, inflicted by the Department of Transport’s refusing funding for the Hereford Transport Package, may be a blessing in disguise, especially for people living in communities along the A49.
The bid submitted by the council, admitted by Cllr Price at the last council meeting, noted that, with a bypass for Hereford, the A49 could have an enhanced role and provide an alternative for some traffic on the parallel M5/M6.
The village communities between Ludlow and Ross, many bisected by the A49 , would be severely affected. 
As we know, the A49 already has a bad accident record. 
The Herefordshire public is totally oblivious to this almost hidden agenda, believing heavy traffic will be alleviated by a ‘bypass’. 
By providing a relief road for the motorway system, attracting additional traffic with destinations such as Wales and Bristol ,more through traffic, including heavy freight, is likely to pour on to our road system, with no benefit for the county. 
New evidence reveals people living closest to major traffic arteries are 12% more likely to be diagnosed with dementia.Yet another reason to promote sustainable transport and reduce road dependency in Herefordshire.
Herefordshire Transport Alliance

Payback time?
LAST week we heard the news that Herefordshire Council had been unsuccessful to secure their bid for funding to progress the ‘bypass’ scheme as part of the Hereford Transport Package. 
Herefordshire councillors have been telling us for many months that the £27m funding for the Southern Link Road (SLR) voted in as a the magical stand-alone road that was to relieve congestion in the city centre all by itself (and now shamefully re-branded as the first part of a ‘bypass’) is secured. 
However, just this week Robert Fox from the DfT has confirmed that the SLR, as part of the Southern Wye Transport Package, is yet to be approved and if the council fail to pass scrutiny on their final business case for the scheme, they may have to pay back the £2.146M in grants that they’ve already squandered on consultancy fees.
Such is their determination to build this ‘bypass’, and at any cost, there is no doubt in my mind that the council will rob Peter to pay Paul and we will see this beautiful land, and already fragile infrastructure, utterly destroyed by pig-headedness and spiralling debt.

Web woes
HAVING read Ben Goddard’s article in January 4th’s Hereford Times I thought people may be interested in my experience.
I live in Marden, and the village was cabled 12 months ago with several new green cabinets appearing on pavements. This was followed by mailshots inviting us to switch to new faster Infinity broadband. 
At that time I had two phone lines, each enabled for the old ADSL broadband.
In June I contacted BT, and placed an order, making sure that it was understood that I wanted our main line changed to Infinity, and our secondary line discontinued completely. 
All seemed to go well, and I received a number of e-mails and phone calls to say that they were done, but the promised 50Mbps failed to appear.
Calls to BT Help yielded nothing until a fault was detected on the line, but even after that was fixed, there was no change.
A visit by another engineer, some three months after the service was due to have started, revealed that the main line was still on ADSL, but the secondary line had not been discontinued but had been connected to Infinity broadband.
Further calls to BT failed to yield any assistance - and in one case the BT agent (in India?) just disconnected my call in mid sentence.
A formal complaint resulted in a new start, with further e-mails thanking me for my order and informing me of my new order reference.
To cut the story short, we were told that we would have Infinity broadband installed by yesterday, and we received e-mail and telephone confirmation that it had been completed.
No it hasn’t, we still have a 2.5 Mbps download speed.
On top of this, BT has been charging me for both lines, including the one that should have been disconnected six months ago.
The whole episode has been one error after another, and seems to indicate sheer incompetence on the part of BT and OpenReach staff. 
I’m thinking that it’s time to go to Ofcom, but it may be quicker to resolve if it appeared in the Hereford Times.

Admit failings
SINCE 1948, when the NHS was formed, the UK has had nine Conservative, nine Labour and one coalition government and I think it fair to ask why, after 68 years, the NHS isn’t working like the proverbial Swiss watch.
Instead of acknowledging the failings of those nine Conservative administrations, Bill Wiggin (HT 8/12/16) prefers to adopt the politician’s standard response - blame the others - we know best - don’t trust anyone else.
Well, that approach hasn’t worked in the last 68 years, Bill, and it will not work in the future, until all 650 parliamentarians wise up and accept that the five-year parliamentary term, short-term planning and financing, failure to match population with levels of available service and a lack of the necessary skills to run a monolithic organisation prevents you from turning what is a failing organisation into the “priceless” one that the public needs, and politicians promise, but fail to deliver.
If the NHS is ever to work efficiently, control has to be taken away from Westminster, and put in the hands of those who know how to provide a real national health service - doctors and nurses who know what they need, and business professionals who can deliver it.
Oldfields Close

Not so private
AN open letter to Jesse Norman MP
Dear Jesse
I was really surprised to read your ‘response’ to my letter in the Hereford Times regarding the future of non-UK citizens resident in the UK after Brexit. 
I was not surprised by your initial response to me, that to say in the paper that you cannot comment because the matter was private and confidential is disingenuous. 
My meeting with you on November 11 was arranged by a member of your staff after I sent you a letter on October 4. As that letter was copied to 47,907 people (including The Hereford Times), I cannot understand how our meeting (which was solely about Brexit), could ever have been regarded as ‘Private’. 
However, you came to the meeting having not read the letter, so may not have been aware that I was not there on a private matter.
You did also reassure me that the civil service wouldn’t allow their political masters to do anything too rash, so following the resignation of the EU Ambassador this week I am not feeling too confident about that ‘smart Brexit’ we talked about.
Best regards
Greyfriars Avenue

Superb care
I HOPE you can find space for a positive letter about Hereford County Hospital and the National Health Service, to balance the many horror stories. 
Just before Christmas I was rushed into A&E at HCH with a suspected heart attack. 
In an emergency the NHS is brilliant. 
The whole caring experience was an absolute eye-opener. 
Although obviously under great stress, the ambulance service, paramedics, A&E itself, doctors and nurses, cleaners and porters - all were unfailingly helpful, concerned, caring, easy to talk to and efficient. 
Within days I had numerous checks, including one arranged at Worcester Royal, and was home for Christmas, considerably reassured. 
The food was consistently of good standard and I was well looked after. So in sum my heart-felt thanks go to all who contributed to my care.
But what was most impressive was the great team-work amongst people from many different backgrounds, with one clear mission, to provide the best care they could to all their patients.
This, despite the fears of those from outside the UK about their future.
Without the support of these non-UK citizens, the crucial service provided by the NHS would collapse. 
Our MPs and Government need to do much more to ensure that these fine, committed, highly-trained people remain here to continue working with us and for the UK.

Health crisis
WITH patients being asked to stay away from Hereford A&E, and dying after being left in corridors in Worcester, local healthcare is in crisis. 
Hereford hospital is too small, its management recently taken over by South Warwickshire, a move which Jesse Norman MP said in November ought to be halted while consultation took place. 
I agree with him on this, but there are underlying issues which he ought to be addressing.
He is a Minister in a government which has underfunded, disorganised and is privatising our precious NHS, and has demoralised its wonderful staff. 
Respected aid agency the Red Cross describes the situation as a ‘humanitarian crisis’.
Local people need to be confident that government will provide us with a health service that is fit for purpose and does not lurch from crisis to crisis every winter.
We want a publicly funded, publicly run and publicly accountable NHS for our families and communities. The government’s wasteful privatisation agenda is not supported by the public.
My party is committed to reinstating the NHS as a public service without privatisation and marketisation, where funding pays for healthcare and doesn’t inflate the profits of private businesses.
Hereford Green Party
How Caple

Brexit fall-out
TRAVEL companies Swan Hellenic and Voyages of Discovery collapsed last week. 
Employees will lose their jobs and holiday-makers their holidays. 
An announcement stated: “According to the most recently published figures, the cruise division lost £146 for each passenger it carried. The fall in the value of the pound following the EU referendum added extra pressure. All Leisure Group’s revenue is predominantly in sterling, but its costs are mainly in foreign currencies, particularly the US dollar and euro.”
So these lost jobs and holidays are part of the Brexit fall-out.
Those who believe Brexit will bring a brighter future may ultimately be proved right, and you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.
And it is also true that the weaker pound had brought benefits for some - in the same way that war is good for armament manufacturers.
But spare a thought for those broken eggs.

Brilliant care
ON December 5, I slipped on some ice on Faraday Road. 
I was taken to Hereford A & E just before 11am and was home again by 1pm. I was in a lot of pain with a broken shoulder and was swiftly seen by a very caring nurse and then X-rayed.
The two hospital appointments I’ve had since have been very punctual and supportive. 
Thank you Hereford County Hospital for brilliant treatment and care.