Rich helpers
CHANCELLOR Philip Hammond presented his first and last budget in March as opposed to in the Autumn. Mainly it was a continuation of the same. 
Cuts, a.k.a. austerity, are set to continue for ever as the Tories remain determined to shrink the ‘size of the state’ to pre-war levels regardless of the damage done to people’s lives and the fabric of society. 
Alongside continued handouts to the wealthy and powerful through (previously announced) cuts in corporation tax and tweaking of inheritance tax the ‘Just About Managing’ will be squeezed by the continued freeze on all in work benefits. 
They, and the disabled, will lose money as they are transferred to Universal Credit. Further rises in income tax thresholds do nothing for part-time workers and gives most to the better off.
Another stand out moment was the failure to address the huge funding problems in the NHS, representing jaw staggering complacency after this winter, and the totally inadequate response to the crisis in social care; some of which has been highlighted in your pages recently.
Whilst some commitment to technical education is welcome the money is paltry particularly considering the extreme under funding in further education over the last seven years. 
Less welcome is the support for Theresa’s ‘vanity project’ of new grammar schools which are likely to divert funding from the rest of education particularly if delivered through the extremely expensive route of more ’free’ schools.
So in the fifth richest nation in the world our government continues to claim that we cannot afford decent services, roads and railways as it pursues its ideological determination to shift wealth and influence from the poor to the rich.

Polite request
DEAR Drivers passing through Mordiford at drop-off and pick-up time.
We are just parents, trying to drop our children safely off at school. You can see the difficulties we have in order to do this, leaving the road restricted to one lane for through traffic. 
We do our best - we leave passing places to ease the congestion, we drop our children as quickly as we can in order to clear the road, we have a lollipop man who does a wonderful job taking our children safely across the road and controlling the flow of traffic. 
We are honestly not trying to make your life difficult. 
What we don’t expect is verbal abuse from drivers coming by the school, often at inappropriately high speeds, often in front of our children. 
If you have ideas about how we can make things easier, we are always open to suggestion. 
I’m sure many of you are parents and will understand. 
Otherwise, a little politeness and patience will make a huge difference. 

How much?
BORDERLINES Film Festival this year has once again brought this county a wonderful selection of films to enjoy.
However,my enjoyment was marred when I discovered a parking ticket on my car in the Courtyard car park. 
As a Friend of the Courtyard, I have a parking permit, but unfortunately this is not valid until mid-day (I was not aware of the time-limit). 
My parking infraction was timed at 11.37, so in effect I have been asked to pay £45 for 23 minutes! 
This is an outrageous amount - particularly for a pensioner on a meagre state pension. 
Such sums appear to be standard, and surely I am not the only one to think they are unreasonable. 
Whose pockets to the fines go into anyway? Not the Courtyard I imagine! 
Much Birch

Film spirit
WHAT a wonderful festival Borderlines is! 
I have enjoyed so many exceptional films from different cultures and ages – including films by and about Herefordians, and prize-winning young film-makers. 
I have shared tears and laughter with lovely audiences, stewards and staff - and great food and drink.
These different views of life have enlarged me and I have felt our common humanity. Also it has made me even more aware of how privileged I am to live here.
I do not believe that anyone still scornful of Hereford’s City of Culture bid could fail to respond to the wellbeing the festival generated. 
The comments show that local work of integrity stands up with the best. 
We can take pride in our heritage and our people.
Thank you all involved.

Picture happy
The appearance of a picture of the Mayor Jim Kenyon, or any other person in your publication is not compulsory, thankfully, because we have a free press. 
However, the Mayor is our City’s first Citizen and where and when the Mayor is doing his or her Public and Civic duty it is always appropriate for his/her image to appear, together with a suitable report.  
Most Hereford citizens appreciate the long tradition of our Mayoralty  When, last year I was Mayor of Hereford many people took great interest in the fact that my image appeared not only every week, but often more than once in your publication. 
However it was the regalia, the Mayor’s chain which was the attraction. I personally felt a great sense of pride and privilege for the role and honor of the position I held.

Great care
I write to praise one of our Hereford Care Homes and the Hereford NHS
My 90-year-old-mum was most shabbily treated by another county, resulting in seven months incarceration in a hospital whilst The Court of Protection, The Official Solicitors, The County Solicitors and the various County Social Services prevaricated despite my offers to deal with this. 
I eventually extricated my mum from the unsuitable care home they forced her into, to Pencombe Hall near Bromyard, close to where I live. 
The staff there are amazing, even at the end of mum’s life popping in every 15 minutes night or day to check on her and chat. Visiting at any time was never a problem with a cuppa always offered. 
I cannot praise Pencombe Hall enough. Hereford County Hospital were first class as were the Social services. 
So, perhaps the rest of the country could look to us as a model?? 
Rowden Abbey

War is murder
Has the Church of England in Herefordshire completely lost its way? 
Thank you for your news article showing, on one page, how the County Care budget is being slashed by £100,000, and then, opposite, how an SAS war memorial window costing over £1 million is being installed in the Cathedral. 
The glorification of war, whatever its nature, can never be fitting in a sacred Christian shrine. 
In the Orthodox church, by contrast, only Christian saints or Christ himself can be represented in this way. 
And as this is written, thousands of British soldiers are being deployed aggressively on the Russian border in support of a coup regime in Kiev that is committing genocide against civilians in the Donbass. 
As Private Harry Patch once said, to the bemusement of many: “War is organised murder, and nothing else.” 

Bridge needed
HOW disappointed I was to read that Herefordshire council had voted down the mayor’s proposed eastern bridge.
Getting around Hereford has never been that easy but now it’s descending into a pantomime.
In fact I sometimes wonder why I bother to shop in the place and now only come into the city if it’s absolutely essential. 
The Mayor’s proposals from what I know of them could have been incorporated into the bigger picture and a way ahead for the future to give relief to the commuter and travel situation in and around Hereford. 
And my goodness it’s needed. Tinkering around with the problem is simply not good enough and this is an opportunity missed.

H&S to blame
AS Chair of the charity, Hereford in Bloom, I sympathise with the views expressed by I Higginson ( Hereford Times March 9) regarding the unattractive state of Newmarket Street roundabout. 
The problem lies with the Health and Safety restrictions controlled by Highways England. 
BBLP undertake minimum grass cuts on these areas but the flower / shrub beds are off limits for BBLP as are any work programs which HIB try to organize.
On a positive note, we are currently in discussions with the authorities, to find ways in which our volunteers can work on all the roundabouts in the City, in an effort to keep Hereford an attractive place to visit and shop. 
Chair of Hereford in Bloom
Hampton Bishop

USA appeal
MY name is Bill Lyster and I am from the United States. 
As a young child I lived with my grandparents on numerous occasions. Their names were William and Elizabeth Halford. They lived at 36 Ridgeway Avenue in Hereford. 
I am hoping to track down some old friends as I am returning in October. 
One of the neighbours to my grandparents was William Woods. He had a granddaughter named Linda, I believe. The other friends were Peter and Michael.
This was 52 years ago so the names could be wrong but I am hoping to contact old mates – if you can send some information, I would appreciate it. 
Iowa, USA

Parking anger
I parked in a loading bay in St Peters Square to unload goods into Tanners Wine Merchants. 
I went straight in and out to find CEO 39 standing by my car having already issued a parking ticket. This happened in under 60 seconds as shown on the ticket times observed from 11-23 to 11-23.
On asking CEO 39 why he had issued a ticket so fast his response was that the parking bay was for commercial vehicles only and that my vehicle was a car as it had back seats. 
I challenged CEO 39, that his actions were far too hasty and done in such an aggressive manner that I would contest the fine as being unreasonable and unfair. 
I contested the fine, but three weeks later I got a reply saying that the fine was upheld and I have to pay it.
Visitors to Hereford: beware the perils of parking in the city.

Do more!
HEREFORD Quakers are shocked and dismayed to hear that the UK does not plan to attend UN negotiations this year on a treaty to ban all nuclear weapons. 
We find it deeply regrettable that last year our country even voted against beginning these negotiations, especially as we understand that multilateral nuclear disarmament is official Government policy.
In 1968 the UK government promised to negotiate the complete elimination of its nuclear weapons, and in 2010 gave an “unequivocal undertaking” that it would do so. 
We therefore call on our Government to uphold this promise and play a constructive part in leading us all to a world free of nuclear weapons. 
Clerk of Hereford Quakers

Votes matter
EVERYONE’S vote in General Elections has the same weight? 
Not true with our antiquated First Past The Post system. Who governs us is decided by a small minority, based to a large extent on where they live.
A total of 74% of votes in the 2015 General Election were wasted: cast either for losing candidates or for winning candidates beyond the number needed to win in a particular constituency – they had no impact on the final result. 
Hardly surprising that a third of the electorate did not vote in 2015, when so many felt that their votes would be wasted.
Proportional Representation (PR) would mean every vote matters; everyone would have a voice in how the country is run and see their choices reflected in parliament. 
National campaign group Make Votes Matter has started a Herefordshire group to promote PR. 
Their petition to Government to re-consider how we vote in general election has now got over 100,000 signatures requiring a Commons debate.
How Caple

Nuclear end
LATER this month, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, negotiations will begin on “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”. 
Representatives from over 100 Governments, from international organizations and from civil society will be taking part. 
The UK government has refused to have anything to do with these talks, even though it has always said it would support multi-lateral attempts to free the world from the scourge of nuclear weapons. 
It is time that this country honoured its commitment under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, given in 1968, to work towards a nuclear-free world.