Happy return
IT was with considerable pleasure that I read the very positive results achieved in your recent on line poll about the re-opening of the Hereford Library. 
Admittedly a relatively small sample, but only the latest in a series of wider polls, conducted by Herefordshire Council, that have all given very positive support for the library service, which, against all the odds, has so far not suffered the damage done by local authorities elsewhere in pursuit of austerity driven budgetary cuts.
Happily the Library and Museum building in Broad Street will have opened by now. 
Visitors will, I hope be well pleased by the excellent job Herefordshire property services have done in refurbishing the building after the not inconsiderable damage done to the fabric after the discovery of asbestos. Freshly painted, far better lit and with bright new fixtures, it is almost as though we have a new library – a pleasure to visit. 
Of, course, more work will need to be done to make further improvements and in the long term, there are plans afoot to give the building a quite new life as a community cultural centre for the city and the county.
Hereford is fortunate in its library staff: they have worked incredibly hard to get the library up and running having worked in trying conditions whilst the building was being refurbished. 
Now they are excited about the possibilities available to create displays and events to enhance the library as a place that one must visit. 
Surely, too, a central feature in any plan for the proposed Hereford City of Culture.
It has been a frequent cry by some, that libraries are no longer relevant in the digital ages. 
This is simply not true. 
Despite on line access to sources of information and entertainment, the printed book is enjoying a record level of success with 2106 publisher’s sales exceeding expectations and, just reported, children’s books having an extraordinary boom. 
On the other hand e-books have actually shown a decline.
And we must have fresh doubts about some online sources’ veracity, with the emergence of ‘fake’ news or even ‘alternative facts’. 
With hacking rife, there is a huge question mark over the reliability of much material on line. 
Which is not to say that the digital world can offer huge benefits, and where better to access it that in a library?
Long live Hereford library!
Broomy Hill

Fine facility
CAN I congratulate the council ( and the operators)  on the excellent new recycling centre at Kington on the Eardisley road, opposite the doctors’ surgery, open since September.
It is beautifully designed, with lots of room for parking handy to the waste disposal containers (unlike some other centres), and is kept tidy and  spotless by a really efficient team, who are particularly helpful at unloading cars and pointing you to the correct disposal unit. 
There is never a wait or a queue.
It is only open three days a week, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but these are the days most people will want to dispose of their rubbish.
As more people become aware of its presence, I’m sure it will become more popular.

Bumpy ride
AS the council is unable or unwilling to resurface any more of Ledbury’s “main street”, they should be forced to erect “uneven surface” road signs at regular intervals so that the unwary can avoid damaging their vehicles when driving through town.
Jasmine Close 

Give us facts
THE revelation that the Trident missile test last June was a failure should make us wonder what other incidents and accidents there have been, and kept secret.
There have certainly been several little-publicised mishaps to the convoys which carry nuclear weapons on our roads, including getting lost, collisions and breakdowns.
How can we make democratic decisions about Trident when we do not have the facts?

Not so safe
AN icy and foggy morning in Hereford produced some sights that might perplex rational people. 
Vehicles swathed in ice, with only a tiny circle of vision scraped from the windscreen were spied. 
How drivers could conceivably assume they were safe to drive is a conundrum. 
Driving without lights was also a bizarre judgement in such foggy conditions.
I observed a female exit a shop, light up a cigarette, make a call on her mobile phone, enter her iced-up car with only a small, scraped space in the windscreen, drive off with no lights and no attempt to use her seatbelt. 
Surely, adequate evidence that some drivers lack any sense of danger to themselves and other road users.
The previous day I drove along the M4 in dense fog. 
Visibility was scarcely 100 yards in places, yet this did not preclude drivers travelling at 70+ mph with no lights. 
Possibly their vehicles were equipped with radar?
And then we have the drivers who ‘forgot’ to turn off fog lamps when conditions improve, and some even use rear fog lamps in rain. 
I wonder if there might be a clue in the word ‘fog’.
Number plates totally obscured by grime were quite prevalent. 
Call me suspicious, but some ‘clean’ cars also had ‘unwashed’ number plates! 
It must be so easy to forget such insignificant items when cleaning.
Vital skills
I AM writing in reference to the HT article, “How Important are Soft Skills for Engineers?” in your 26 January 2017 edition.
Thank you for calling out that Communication, Adaptability, Teamwork and Creativity are central to the career of engineering and that, indeed, these are not soft skills but core skills. 
NMiTE, the university project in Hereford that will deliver an engineering degree for the 21st century, believes that the practice of professional engineering requires a broad toolkit of education ranging from high quality technical engineering, to the core skills your article so rightly called out, and also education in ethics, economics, environment, politics, law and history which provide the business and real world context that engineers need to be successful and innovative contributors to those with whom they work.
One small augmentation to your final sentence though – Innovation AND Creativity and Design are the essence of engineering, all served with a solid dollop of context and perspective to develop the best new engineers for Hereford, the Marches and the UK.
Co-Project Leader
The University Project for Hereford

Budget vote
UPON reading the Hereford Times dated January 26, I was left perplexed by Herefordshire Council, Hereford City Council and our councillors.
In one article I read Herefordshire Council is to increase our council tax by 3.9% in 2017/18 and apparently we should expect similar tax increases in future due to funding cuts from central government.
On a following page I see that Hereford City Council is to provide £30,000 to a new ‘traffic free’ cycle track on Hereford Racecourse. 
Why are we doing this? 
I’m sure a ‘traffic free’ cycle track would be excellent, but we have playgrounds in disrepair, roads which need re-surfacing and a town centre which is dying. 
We cannot maintain our existing infrastructure, let alone invest in more we cannot afford to maintain.
The reason for a 3.9% increase is due to central government cut-backs, but I expect our council to stop doing some things and strive to become more efficient and effective. 
They should not try and raise more funds from the hard-pushed residents of Herefordshire. 
If we are able to spend £30,000 on projects like a new ‘traffic free’ cycle track on Hereford Racecourse, I’ll bet there are many other projects, roles and services which could be changed, reduced, stopped to prevent a rise in council tax of 3.9%.
I suggest that Herefordshire Council and Hereford City Council put their 2017/18 budgets to public a vote. 
Our councils and councillors would then need to explain how they intend to spend our money. 
They might just find that the people they represent do not wish to spend our money on projects like a ‘traffic free’ cycle track and would prefer a lower council tax.
Braemar Gardens

Not charitable
I WAS astonished to hear that the Courtyard hosted a “Security and Defence Expo” last week. 
The Courtyard is a charity, set up to promote the arts, and here are the first part of its “charitable aims” as given on the Charities Commission website: “To promote the improvement and development of artistic taste and the knowledge, understanding and appreciation of arts and cultural and educational value.... “
The defence industries actively promote and facilitate warfare, and that generally results in the destruction of artistic activity and our cultural heritage, not to mention the killing of millions of people. 
There are plenty of examples from Iraq and Syria in recent times.
The Courtyard might like to explain to Hereford residents exactly how this Expo is compatible with their charitable aims? 
I have no doubt the Charities Commission will be interested as well.

Feeling pride
HAVING followed the story of the “Unknown Man” last year in the Hereford Times and the Panorama programme “The Mystery of the Unknown Man” last week, how proud should we all feel that we live in a county and country that shows care and compassion for a stranger found in our streets. 
Full marks to the care home in Credenhill that gave him a home, care and love for the time he was with them. 
The BBC did him no favours in sending him back to the USA and the uncertain future under Donald Trump’s regime. 
Before we judge the family who abandoned this man in Hereford, perhaps we should pause and wonder if they simply knew where he would be better cared for.
Lugg View Close

Keep aware
FEBRUARY is Oesophageal Cancer Awareness month and, as a survivor of this illness, I wanted to help raise awareness of a disease that kills almost 8,000 people a year.
To put that into perspective, that is the entire population of Hinton, Holmer and Credenhill combined! Early detection is key and I was one of the lucky ones. 
Persistent heartburn can do real damage to your oesophagus and, rather than just add ‘Rennies’ or ‘Gaviscon’ to the shopping list, those who suffer regularly should be seeking help from their doctor.
No-one is saying that is you get heartburn you will get cancer - far from it. But this particular disease has increased eight-fold in the last 30 years. Of the 8,700 diagnosed last year, fewer than 1,000 are still alive.
As one of the ‘lucky ones’, I want to assure you, even if the worst happens, early diagnosis is the key to survival.
So do not let your heartburn turn into heartache for your family.If you suffer from regular heartburn seek medical help.
Stretton Sugwas

Parking woe
CAN someone explain to me how Herefordshire Council was allowed to build the new school in Leominster where it is knowing it had a massive problem with parking? 
It seems to me that nothing was done to address the issue of parking. 
Twice a day, the residents have to put up with the school-run blocking all the adjacent streets and the parents have to run the gauntlet of the very busy Southern Avenue traffic or the George Street car-parking attendant doling out parking tickets. 
I can only assume the person who gave the go-ahead for the new school to be built where it is, is the same one who is doing the traffic management in Hereford city centre?

Family search
MY dad was/is Lewis Julian Leighton and I have for many years longed to find him and any of the Leighton family.
Unfortunately, for many reasons, I’ve been unable to make contact.
I would love to have the opportunity to meet them in the near future if they would like to meet me - we have a lot to catch up on. Please write to me at the PO Box below.
PO Box 2345
Hereford Times
Holmer Road
Hereford HR4 9UJ