Wake-up call
THE Department of Transport removed the proposed Hereford bypass from the national road programme in 1998. 
The recent Local Majors application for bypass development costs has also been turned down. 
No-one should let the absence of funding for the Hereford bypass become the scapegoat for Hereford’s continuing traffic congestion. 
The Department of Transport had wished, in the late 1990s, to be satisfied that all alternative means of dealing with traffic issues in Hereford had been fully explored. 
It emphasised that any road scheme should contribute to the solution of, rather than the exacerbation of traffic problems in the city. 
It wanted to see clear evidence that the council had pursued all alternative options for tackling transport and traffic problems, such as extending Safer Routes to School and Green Travel Plans. 
Sounds familiar? 
Eighteen years on, Herefordshire Council is still putting its faith in some schemes that do nothing to reduce congestion in Hereford. 
The failure to secure Local Majors funding of the bypass should trigger a wake-up call to the council. 
Get on with nurturing public transport and safe sustainable travel options in Hereford. 
This would be at a fraction of the cost of road building.

Have your say
RESIDENTS of the south of Hereford need to express their views on the proposals by Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group on the proposal to turn the walk-in health centre at Asda into a GP surgery, where patients will need to be registered before they can use the service, and after 6.30pm until 8.30 by telephone appointment only.
The Asda walk-in health centre has been a tremendous success in its decade of service. 
People from as far as the golden valley as well as within the city, have received medical and dental care out of hours. 
For the many in the area who are not registered with a GP, or for others who prefer anonymity, the centre has been a life line. 
Public consultation is now taking place and the CCG is seeking the views of users. 
Councillors who sit on the Health & Social Care Scrutiny Committee also need to be able to express the views of users when they meet with health officers. 
Contact your ward councillor with your views on possible changes.
Change can often be difficult to accept, but readers can have an input. 
Please do not leave it until it is too late!
Hinton & Hunderton Ward
Herefordshire Council

Time to act
What planet is Teresa May living on?
I know she has more than enough on her plate with the EU but her only response to Jeremy Corbyn’s questioning in the Commons last week on the current A and E situation across the country was to make some pathetic, half-hearted response concerning the economy which totally failed to address the current issues and deal with the problem. 
The fact is she leads a party in government which doesn’t have any answers and cannot solve the current A and E crisis.
I used to think that governments were there to actually ‘’fix things’’ not simply preside over a crisis and watch it slowly worsen. 
How wrong I was.
Her government has been told endlessly by doctors and health professionals (ie those who know) where the problems are in fundamental underfunding; a lack of beds; a lack of doctors, insufficient nurses both hospital and community-based (only to be made worse by recent immigration policy).
Yet the only response our beloved PM can come up with is to tell us again how much extra cash is being provided, if that is not recycled money already put in (governments of all colours are really good at this), and then blame the patients for being ill and the doctors for not opening their doors and working 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
I have tried to work out what the end game is here. 
Is it further privatisation  of services? 
Well if it is, there are still the same number of health professionals in place and the same numbers of patients to be seen so privatising things won’t make any difference.
One person remarked to me last week we have ‘’too many people in the UK’’. 
Ok, so ship five million out and the problem is still there unless you send five million old-age pensioners somewhere else. 
That might relieve the problem by a fraction as an ageing population with complex problems is one of the reasons why we are struggling to find beds for people in the first place. 
But will the government face up to this?
This crisis will continue year after year unless the government of the day is prepared to listen to the medical profession and take their advice to put the money in where it’s needed. 
Then we might just see things stabilise in the longer term.
And may I strongly suggest that instead of everyone complaining about the situation, next time you vote ask yourself what has your MP done to help and what is his or her voting pattern. 
You might be advised not to support anyone who is not totally committed to the NHS and to resolving the state of our health services, because that is their responsibility and they must be held to account for it. 
Can I just point out that we are funding an aircraft carrier that is now costing  over £12 billion (£9 billion overspent) and, even when completed in around 2020, won’t even have any aircraft to fly from its decks as the aircraft they have chosen, the Lockheed F35, appears to have so many serious problems it can’t even go into battle and maybe never will. But they only cost £70 million each plus running costs, can’t stay up in the air for more than an hour and we are buying 45 of them. Great isn’t it. 
Perhaps we should cancel this project, buy a second carrier and some half-decent proven aircraft and spend the money saved on the NHS not on some over-inflated defence project now costing four times the original price to you and me, the tax payer. 

Great care
ON Christmas Eve morning I had the misfortune to fall out of the car breaking my arm in the fall.
I arrived at A&E at Hereford County Hospital at 9.50.
Within ten minutes, a sister saw me and, after taking details, sent me to the X-ray department where I had an X-ray within 15 minutes.
Then it was back to A&E where I saw the same sister who sent me to the plaster room. 
I waited 10 minutes and had my arm plastered and was then sent home where I arrived home at 10.45.
What a great hospital and staff Hereford has.
This morning, January 12, I had a referral to see a specialist with my arm at 9am. 
I was sent to X-ray, saw a specialist and after the X-ray I was home at 10.30.
How people can criticise Hereford NHS Trust I just can’t see.
Well done doctors, nurses, technicians of X-ray and Gary in the plaster room.
Thank you all. 

A century on
THE late summer and autumn of 2017 will mark the centenary of a notorious battle that has come to symbolise the waste and human suffering of the First World War.
The battle of Passchendaele in 1917 was yet another attempt by the British and their allies to dislodge the Germans from a key area of the Ypres Salient in Belgium.
But tragically, the campaign was brought to a halt when heavy rainfall turned the landscape into a huge shell-pocked quagmire. Hundreds of thousands of men were killed and wounded for the gain of just a few yards of captured enemy-held territory.
Battlefield Memorial Tours is a Midlands-based organisation that takes relatives to the graves of loved ones killed in the two world wars.
And this year, the group will be visiting key sites in France and Belgium that will include the infamous Passchendaele battlefield.
There will also be the opportunity to attend remembrance services held at the Menin Gate, Ypres.
Other trips planned for 2017 will include one-day visits to sites of historic interest in Britain, including the famed code-breakers’ headquarters at Bletchley Park, the airship sheds at Cardington, and to the Shuttleworth Collection of pre-Second World War aircraft at Old Warden Aerodrome in Bedfordshire.
Battlefield Memorial Tours is the successor organisation to a research group founded by the late Alex Bulloch MBE in 1972. 
Mr Bulloch, a Birmingham policeman, was instrumental in taking many thousands of Midlands people to the graves of loved ones.
For more information, contact tour organiser Brian Long on 01629 650780 or visit www.battlefieldmemorialtours.co.uk
Battlefield Memorial Tours

French is best
THE World Health Organisation says the French insurance-based health system is the best. 
Our local French hospital has a waiting time in A&E of just a few minutes. 
The town has a separate blood test clinic (no appointment needed) and a radiology clinic (wait up to a week for a scan) - as do most towns. 
Results come almost immediately. 
Surgeries open early and close late. 
Home visits not a problem. 
France spends 50% more of GDP on healthcare than UK, employing nearly twice as many doctors. 
NHS beds, in undignified dormitories, have halved since 1990 - why? 
We employ 35% foreign-trained doctors (France has 19%, Germany 10%, Italy 5%) whom we steal thoughtlessly from poorer countries. 
Clever marketing promotes the NHS as “free at the point of delivery” - but of course it is not, as we pay up front through taxes and national insurance.
The NHS killed my father, nearly killed my mother, killed one client of mine, and even “lost” another client for some days!!
Scrap this outdated system, which will never be efficient no matter how much money is thrown at it.

Awaiting reply
“What’s good for the goose……”
I have e-mailed  Herefordshire Council twice in the past three months, via their website, asking them to enlighten me as to the parking restrictions on Melrose Place. 
I have been disappointed not to get a response but not surprised as I have recently been told by people living locally that the restriction of  “1 hour no return within 1 hour”  has never been authorised, thus people can park all day for free.
The people who are benefiting from this free parking are mainly council staff from the building opposite. 
These spaces were previously well used by parents of Scudamore Academy children, shoppers using nearby businesses and visitors to Melrose Place residents (including a sheltered housing complex). 
Now shoppers are put off shopping with the resultant loss of business, visitors are put off visiting friends and relatives, carers have difficulty parking, and parents are often forced to park in less than ideal places.
It cannot be acceptable to have what should be short-term parking places full all day. 
As we seem to be losing free short-term parking elsewhere in town these spaces are very important to this area. 
With enforced dangerous parking there comes the risk of somebody getting injured especially at busy school drop-off and pick-up times.
Having read your article about reduced parking charges for council staff I am even less surprised at not getting a response to my enquiry.  
The council “gander” appears to be looking after itself whilst inconveniencing and endangering others.

Arms ethics
IN the recent Hereford Times article ‘Defence Expo to build trade links’, Mark Pearce, MD of Skylon Park in Rotherwas was speaking of the city’s first Defence and Security Expo to be held at the Courtyard on Feb 1. 
He said: “This event will be one of the biggest gatherings of defence and security sector experts in the UK, and Herefordshire is exactly the right place for it.”
Evidently he sees a big future for arms sales abroad. 
I’m sure ISIS is looking forward to getting their hands on some of them. 
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “Arms fairs and backroom deals strengthen the UK’s ties to dictatorships and cement the government’s role as a global arms dealer.”
Can readers of the Hereford Times explain why the UK celebrates British values of democracy and freedom, yet exports arms to 39 countries considered ‘not free’ by think-tank Freedom House? 
The standard government reply that ‘the UK operates one of the most robust and transparent arms export control systems in the world’ does not answer this question. 

Bring it back
SURELY the embroidered cloth must return to its rightful home, St Faith’s Church, Bacton where it was gifted and carefully looked after. 
Your article in the Hereford Times (January 12) noted that the relic was in perfect condition. 
There should be no need for an expensive building to house it.
I read that the church are ‘hoping’ the cloth will return. 
They should not have let it leave their care without a firm assurance that it will return. 
It has been at Bacton for over a century and has been much admired by generations before the conservators stepped in.

NHS is great
ON New Year’s Day, my partner found blood in his urine and, thinking the worse, he took a sample to the drop-in centre where he was examined and the urine sent to the hospital.
Two days later, he saw his GP at our award-winning surgery and, two weeks later, he has just spent half a day at Hereford County Hospital.
He was given every test available and eventually given the ‘all clear’. 
At the same time as he was at the hospital, I was attending a routine appointment at the haematology clinic where I have been going for 18 years so our NHS really is great.