Cost worries
THE Conservative-led Herefordshire Council is proposing to increase the cost of most of the services which they provide, therefore placing a further financial burden on many of our already hard-pressed citizens, we should first ensure that we are obtaining value for money throughout the council. 
We feel that we are not fully achieving that in respect of the disposal of our assets and accommodation management generally.
We sold Brockington for £1.2M, which included £600,000 of top-grade building land, so therefore actually sold the premises for £600,000, the price of an average detached house in Hafod Road. 
Then, we leased Elgar House in Holmer Road to house our adult social care staff, which resulted in our spending around £700,000 (more than we got for Brockington) just to make it fit for purpose. 
Then, to further aggravate the situation, agreed a rental fee of £80,000 per annum. 
Why on earth did we not move the staff into Brockington, the previous council headquarters, together with those from Nelson House, (another expensive property to lease), thus saving the ratepayer many hundreds of thousands of pounds per year and STILL owning the property?
It is clearly evident that when we dispose of land and property we never appear to get value for money, but when we PURCHASE such, for example Rockfield Road and Franklin House, we pay hugely inflated prices, £1.2M for Franklin House and then spent over £2M on upgrading. 
The property was recently valued at £600,000, 50% of its original cost not including the upgrade! 
There are many more examples of failure and incompetence, the latest being a £900,000+ overspend on the upgrading of Blueschool House. 
When we requested an explanation at the last cabinet meeting, we were informed that when it was recently surveyed, many serious faults were not identified. 
Why was this?? 
We were not told! 
If this happened in private business then ‘heads would roll’!
These facts cannot be challenged, as the evidence is overwhelming. 
It is time that Herefordshire Council started to live within its means, and have far more stringent management of our capital projects, major contracts and far less use of expensive and unnecessary consultants.
The leader and chief executive keep proudly telling us that they have balanced the budget yet again. 
That’s fine, but they have achieved that by creating £229M of debts, and by having disposed of most of the county’s valuable assets. 
If they can’t do it now, then what hope is there for the future?
Cllr Bob Matthews
Group Leader - Herefordshire Independents
Credenhill Ward 
Cllr Pauline Crockett
Herefordshire Independents
Queenswood Ward

Pothole woes
WITH reference to recent correspondence about north Herefordshire potholes, and Graham Davies’ warning about their danger (April 20); recent Somerset visitors to us, who have been protesting to their local council about potholes, were amazed by the lamentable state of Herefordshire’s roads with potholes infinitely worse than theirs. 
Last month we were forced to abandon a planned evening journey to London when we hit a pothole near Burley Gate. 
A tyre split completely. 
At the Leominster tyre fitters next morning my husband met seven other motorists seeking tyre replacements – all seven had hit potholes the previous evening. 
The council is understandably trying to save money but drivers are paying the price financially and being forced to take risks.

Great support
Last weekend, I completed my first marathon in London in my standard day wheelchair for my chosen charity Scope.
I would like to thank my family and friends for their amazing support.  
The day did  not go as planned, I fell off my wheelchair at the Tower of London battered and bruised and my pride on the floor.  
My wheelchair and I did not perform so well after that point.    
It was a struggle at mile 16-17 - here I cried on the side of the road and had to make the decision as to whether to carry on.  
I did as I did not want to let the amazing support that I had at home and down in London, it was amazing. 
My tracker didn’t work and so officially I am still sitting at the start, but I completed the marathon in 7 hours 20 minutes approximately.
Thank you all, especially Wayne, Amy, Anna and Ray who were there with me on the day.  
Many thanks to my wheel fit friends, work colleagues, running buddies and of course my sponsors who believed in me.  
My fundraising page is still open if anyone has been inspired and would like to sponsor me - 
My page:
Julie Lawrenson
Seeking Sally
Please can you help me to find a old friend whom I haven’t seen since 1988? 
In 1988, my uncle John O’Connor lived at The Roakes near Ashperton near Ledbury and he had two lodgers, Tom and Sally. 
Tom had long hair and Sally was pregnant and she had a pet dog called Vince. 
I don’t know Sally’s surname so it’s hard for me to find her today. 
If someone knows Sally or knows anything helpful then please email me on:

Don’t offend
‘WHAT is culture?’ reads like an undergraduate essay title. 
Recent events, such as those associated with Hull, UK’s City of Culture, and nearer to home at Hereford Cathedral’s Mappa Mundi Exhibition (Hereford Times, April 20) may beg this question.
Hull’s (Miss) Cosey Fanni Tutti’s ‘Art Sex Music’, discussed on BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour, and Spencer Tunic’s ‘Sea of Hull’ and our own Mappa Mundi Exhibition with Grayson Perry’s ‘clearly subversive’ version  ‘Map of Nowhere’ are being questioned by some. 
The ‘Sea of Hull’ shows more than 3,000 naked adults painted four shades of blue draped across some of the city’s streets for a photo to celebrate the city’s relationship with the sea. What could Hereford do with High Town in its bid for the title?
Naked farm workers bathed in apple blossom? The mind boggles!
Culture, in its many genres, is generally seen as, principally, creative, uplifting and inspirational. 
Others would add that it could also question, challenge and even amuse. 
Culture is increasingly being given the role of engaging with the public. 
Displays and events sometimes seek to engage by offending its audience. 
This is seen by many as perhaps a questionable ploy: a ‘cheap shot’ which may lead to a race to the bottom.  Of course, what is commonly seen as offensive changes and we are being increasingly desensitised.
Culture is a subjective term: one person’s meat is another’s poison, and so the argument is circular and enigmatic and remains open. 
My own opinion, which I believe could be shared by the majority, is that, if possible, it must not seek to offend - but that is only my opinion.  
Much Cowarne

Excellent job
I WISH to thank the gas board contractors who recently finished replacing the gas main in St Owen Street for making such an excellent job of the road repairs. 
As a cyclist using that route on a regular basis. it is a real pleasure not to have to be on constant vigilance for the damaged, potholed and appallingly maintained roads that appears to be the norm in Hereford city and county routes. 
They should be given the contract for all road repairs. 
They show it CAN be done in Herefordshire.
Eign Road
Superb care
PLEASE can I highlight the inspiring work of the Macmillan Renton unit at Hereford Hospital. 
I have recently had a mastectomy and follow-up treatment. 
Everyone I met along the way has been professional, kind, efficient and supportive and the wonderful breast care nurses were always available when needed to provide reassurance and advice. 
At a time when people seem to concentrate on the challenges the NHS faces, it is a pleasure to be able to say that my experience has been very positive and I feel I have had the best possible care. 
Thank you!

Get together
WE have one chance to save UK from a horrific lurch to the right.
One chance to stop the Tories destroying so many things we, in common, hold dear. 
The environment
The welfare state 
An open, tolerant society.
But we can only do this is Herefordshire if we stand one unity candidate against our incumbent MP.
I don’t care which party the candidate comes from but I can’t support us fighting against each other at a time of such enormous crisis.
Please, please consider a sensible outcome so we can work together. I will do whatever I can to work with you. 
All I care about right now is denying Theresa May that mandate she craves. 
But we have to find a way to come together.
One by one we are powerful.
When we stand shoulder to shoulder, many in body, one in mind, we can achieve something incredible.
Let’s put Hereford on the map.
Let’s be the constituency where we put aside tribal loyalties and stand up to hatred and division.

Quality slips
I HAVE the opinion that food quality has declined due to environmental damage created by humans, for example, pesticides. 
The task of humans will be to gradually stop these damaging processes so that nature can be clean again. 
If we go back in time I am certain that many of the older generation in our town could possibly agree that food does not taste as good and is not the same. 
This could just be the tip of the ice burg as the inner nutrients in food may be different. 
Could this be why the NHS are overwhelmed with patients and, closer to home, we see our own doctors’ surgery very busy and struggling. 
To understand the problem is eventually to take action to help it and make things better.