Council woe
OVER the last few years the pages of the local newspapers have catalogued the shambles created within Powys County Council decision making by the current cabinet and senior officers which has cost millions of pounds in wasted council funds. 
One example: a handful of schools running up unlawful deficits which have already been written off totalling half a million pounds plus, a further £3 million plus still to be dealt with, or eight judicial reviews lost by the local authority because decisions were considered unlawful.
All of this sadly, is only the tip of the iceberg and many people feel powerless to do anything.
We the electorate are not powerless. 
The main reason the council plan to close Gwernyfed High School was withdrawn was because the strength of our communities. 
It was not just the numbers that mattered it was what people did that counted. 
What this tells us is that we, the electorate, can make a difference and with county council elections due in May we need to get our act together. 
First, we all need to vote, second, we must put every candidate on the spot whether a so-called independent or a member of a genuine political party, by only voting for those candidates who are willing to commit to five pledges:
• To draw up a realistic plan to deal with the horrendous school budget deficits run up by a small number of schools that are draining the local authority reserves.
• To ensure that none of the flawed school closure plans of the past are revisited.
• To work to ensure that senior officers are not allowed to get away with peddling flawed information as evidence.
• To overturn the increase in charges for day centres.
• To fight to amend the Powys CC constitution.
It is said we, the electorate, get the councillors we deserve, so we need to turn that around by using our responsibility to ensure that those elected can do the job and are committed to serving our communities.

READING the ‘Letters’ of March 23 left me a little confused.
Two letters concerning parking each implied that an injustice had been served on the writer but I am at a loss to see how.
As the Courtyard permit clearly states ‘Valid from mid-day’ and the signs outside Tanners concern commercial vehicles only I don’t really see why these two individuals feel that they should have special treatment.
As for visitors being beware of ‘parking perils’, I think common sense is sorely lacking from that comment. 
Parking in any city is a problem and Hereford is much easier to park in than many others.

Truth seeker
YOU recently published a letter from me about diesel emissions, in which I stated that diesels are more efficient regarding carbon dioxide emissions than petrol engines. 
After more research, especially on the website, it seems clear that whilst diesels are more efficient, and reach efficient running temperature more quickly, and last longer (all surely relevant), they do produce more dangerous emissions of a certain type compared with petrol, provided that the petrol vehicle is fitted with a catalytic convertor. The figures are, per vehicle kilometre..
Engine        CO2    CO    NO2    HC
Petrol without convertor        100    100    100    100=400
Petrol with convertor        100    42    23    19=84
Diesel        85    2    31    3=121
So it is still clear that bar nitrous emissions, diesel wins - easily, especially on carbon monoxide emissions. 
Some sites indicate that diesels cannot be fitted with convertors, others say they can. 
Before we condemn diesels, a genuinely independent report should be commissioned - as a retired lawyer I would say the case against diesel is very much not proven. 
What is the truth?

Road worries
AS Norman Tarbath pointed out in letters last week the city’s roads are deteriorating rapidly.
This preventable state is due to lack of any on going maintenance. Just walk up Aylestone Hill from Legge’s and every road gully is impacted. 
None have been cleared for at least two years . 
Instead “Bungle and Beauty” waste time every week with a sweeping machine. 
Don’t get me started on the massive hole on the top of Aylestone Hill or the frankly risible state of Roman Road near the new Furlongs development.
Mr Tarbath compares our roads to the roads of Powys. Powys is in Wales and has had plenty of EU monies for its road network. 
Let’s hope when we finally leave the EU we will have a fairer distribution of this much coveted tar-macadam. 

Legal or not
I READ with interest the article concerning the closure of roads around Bromyard, to accommodate a cycle race.
Last year my granddaughter asked me to feed and water her pet cats while she was away. 
It later transpired that unknown to us, all the access roads to her property were to be closed, to accommodate a cycle race. 
Concerned that her pets would go without food and water, I contacted the local constabulary HQ to enquire about the legality of the closures, ie would I be committing a Road Traffic Offence if I used one of these roads for access. The answer was no I would not, the closure by the council was not legally enforceable.
As this took place in a different county, I do not know the legal position in Herefordshire, but maybe this is one route of enquiry for those who may be affected, e.g. carers, district nurses etc.

Happy times
YOUR recent ‘Pomagne/St Michael’s Hospice’ story generated some proverbial ‘tears to the eyes’. 
Back in 1971, having returned to Herefordshire from Holland where I had worked for a wine seller in Utrecht (and had also developed a real thirst for Heineken), I was employed by Bulmers from October until January as one of 30-odd seasonal workers (mostly over from Eire) on the presses in the old cider mill in Plough Lane. 
We worked 16 hours a day, seven days a week non-stop to process endless supplies of apples delivered from farms/orchards all over in the region to produce three Bulmers Cider products. 
The juice from the first round of crushed apple that went through the presses became ‘Pomagne’, after which the residue of dry pumice was flushed with water and re-cycled to make ‘Strongbow’ and then flushed and recycled again to make ‘Woodpecker’. Each variety containing copious amounts of sweat as the ‘hoppers’ above each press would discharge their loads of crushed apple every nine seconds. 
The money I earned was not a lot, but I am happy to top-up the money raised with another £250 to the hospice for the memory of it all, especially the Pomagne!   

Time to end it
YOUR reporter, Ben Goddard, wrote in the HT on Thursday, March 30 that the Robert Owen Academy had been transporting students in minibuses which had no MOT and, therefore, no insurance. 
The report quoted the chair of the governors, Ms Debbie Gittoes, as saying that the ‘administrative oversight’ was neither ‘wilful’ nor ‘negligent’ when consideration is given to the legal definition, whatever that may mean.
I disagree. While one might reasonably accept that the school’s actions were not ‘wilful’, in the sense of being intentional, the incompetence was certainly ‘negligent’ – how could it not be? It’s the school’s legal responsibility to protect their students to the best of their ability, and driving around in such vehicles is unequivocally negligent.
This school has cost the education system, which is hardly well-funded, many millions of pounds – for which we pay through our taxes. The last OFSTED report, published on February 3, 2017, gives the total roll as 54 students, with 22 of these in the sixth form. 
OFSTED grades on a four-category scale: Effectiveness of leadership and management; Quality of teaching, learning and assessment; Personal development, behaviour and welfare, and lastly, 16 to 19 study programmes. The Robert Owen Academy was rated as inadequate, the lowest possible assessment, in every category.
It is time this disgraceful waste of valuable resources and incompetence came to a halt.
Chris Bivand

After 43 years
ANNA Coda outlined the problems we all face as a result of our government’s austerity policies.  
A direct result of these policies has been the result of the Referendum to leave the European Union. In the Referendum to join in 1973, I voted “no” because I assumed we would be joining a “capitalist club” which would have no benefits for working people. 
But in 2016 I voted “remain” because it is clear that countries are economically interdependent and this is an important foundation for peace in Europe and beyond. 
Unfortunately our government’s policies have led people to believe that membership of the EU is of no benefit to them and “fake news” has informed them that “savings” from the EU budgets will be spent on the NHS and, if we get rid of “immigrants”, i.e. doctors, nurses, care workers, farm workers, etc. we will all be better off!  
Clearly this is not the case and leaving the EU could well lead to the “shipwreck” of this country in which rich and poor will suffer.  
It took me 43 years to change my mind about membership, but I hope a sensible resolution will be found in my lifetime.

Why increase
I THOUGHT the council tax increase was supposed to be 3.9% to include 2% for social services. 
However, it has increased to 4.25%  with no increase for the Police. Why the extra 0.35%?
M Jones

Still in place
AFTER all the extensive work done in Widemarsh Street why is the kerbstone still in place? 
It seems of no purpose apart from tripping people up and causing them extensive injuries.
J N Spencer

SO now we know.
After his one-line petition, Mr Utting needs 36 column centimetres to explain himself, in relation to the Sustainability and Transformation Plan STP.
He now tells us: “I am fully supportive of the aims of the draft STP for better clinical outcomes and improved independence for patients”. 
But his stance is, once the transformation has been achieved and patients are more independent, don’t you dare take anything away from Ross Hospital.
And nowhere does he explain how he interprets that the STP leads to a “bedless” hospital in Ross, the very heart of his scaremongering petition.
The people of Ross will learn not to trust these utt(er)ings. 
Frank Myers

Great evening
I WAS very fortunate to be invited to the Herefordshire Community Champions awards at the Town Hall as I had nominated someone for an award. 
I would like to say that the whole evening was a wonderful experience, very well organised and a lovely atmosphere. 
My thanks go to everyone involved in making the evening such a success – Lady Darnley, Paul Deneen, Cargill, Hereford Times, Herefordshire Council and the caterers. 
Special thanks must go to Sascha Kindred who was an inspiration to us all. 
Well done everyone involved for a truly lovely evening.

Such culture
I FIND listening to the radio helps me to focus, when tying my flies for fishing. 
Yesterday, Friday, March 31, I was listening to Radio 4’s Women’s Hour to an interview with Hull’s (UK City of Culture) (Miss) Cosey Fanni Tutti from the group ‘Throbbing Gristle’ - quite a girl!  
Intrigued - fly tying on ‘pause’!  
I wondered ‘Does Hereford-shire have an answer to this?’. 
Personally, I think we should stick with, our local ‘son’,  Sir Edward Elgar?  Comments please.
I wrote this on April 1 but it’s no joke. 
Richard Bradbury
Much Cowarne

Thanks to all
PLEASE can I thank all those parishioners in Callow and Haywood who came out on Saturday morning to brave our dangerous lanes in order to litter pick? 
I find it really heart warming to see communities coming together to restore our glorious countryside to its green best.
Our youngest litter picker was just six whilst our oldest....well that had better remain a secret! 
Thank you one and all.
Sophie Glover
Callow and Haywood Parish Council