Keep positive
THE Hereford Times needs to be congratulated on giving over several pages each week to demonstrate all that is good and positive about our county. 
Other weekly newspapers might not have been so enlightened about the area they report!
Much of the social media contains false, ill-informed comment about Herefordshire, and the progress we have made to make our county competitive with our neighbours.
Since its inception in 1997, Herefordshire Council, with the active support from all the local main national political parties and the Independents, has worked hard to to deliver a county fit to take on the 21st century. 
Many organisations, private and public sector, and individuals, have been involved in this amazing opportunity. 
The Hereford Times has been at the centre of this regeneration, reporting, sometimes not as we community leaders would wish, the highlights of the future plans for Herefordshire.
There will be many more years reporting the activities of the council and its partners. 
I am sure the the Hereford Times will continue to report the highlights, and counter the sometimes, totally irresponsible, ill-informed rubbish on some local web sites. 
Well done HT, continue to be positive about Herefordshire.
Councillor Chris Chappell
Herefordshire Council

Sad news
I WAS sad to learn last week that Paul Keetch had died. 
I will always remember him, in the two elections I fought against him in 2001 and 2005, as a formidable opponent with a larger than life character and a Herefordian to his fingertips.
The results in both elections were very close but he went on to represent the Hereford constituency admirably as an MP, and to serve the country with his particular interest in, and knowledge of, defence and foreign affairs.
I would like to take this opportunity to send my sincere condolences to all his family and friends.

Tireless work
WHEN we are born we instantly become part of history.  
We may be mentioned by a word, phrase, sentence or paragraph in history books.  
Some, however, have such an impact they warrant a chapter, sometimes a volume, all to themselves: Paul Keetch was such a person. 
Paul accomplished a great deal in his personal life and political career before his life was cut short at the age of 56.  
As his chapter closes and the final words are written, he will surely be remembered and recognised for all of his achievements but in particular those for his beloved Herefordshire, the county with which he had the strongest bond and fondest memories, and for the people he worked so tirelessly to represent during his time as Member of Parliament for Hereford.
Head of Office to Paul Keetch MP for Hereford 1997-2010

Taking steps
THE problem of dog fouling on Broad School Lane, and other paths in Kington has now reached completely unacceptable levels.
I took a photo of dog excrement immediately adjacent to the bin specifically provided for this filth. This is not an exceptional occurrence; my wife and I frequently are forced to do the work of negligent dog owners in our immediate area.
Unless the appropriate authorities will take steps to enforce the various powers vested in them (what a waste of time) we shall have to consider some form of direct action to curb this insanitary, repulsive and generally anti-social behaviour. 

Sound bites
COUNCILLOR Jim Kenyon described as a joke that his group, IOC, were not given any chairmanships in the council, (HT May 25).
Cllr Kenyon clearly did not know that IOC had been offered the chairmanship of the most important scrutiny committee, General Overview and Scrutiny.
For some obscure reason, IOC could not decide whether or not to accept the position and “needed time to discuss it”.
Having waited a week for their decision and with only two days left before the AGM at which the appointments would be made, we were left with no alternative but to make other arrangements.
Whatever discussion took place appear not to have included Cllr Kenyon. Perhaps  communication within IOC is the joke.
In similar uninformed vein, Cllr Matthews remarked on the number of support positions to the cabinet, suggesting that only the Russian Embassy had more similar posts. We had four such posts and now have two.
The councillors’ muse is not fettered by such inhibiting factors as evidence or facts when they could spoil a good sound bite. 
Herefordshire Council

Dire roads
I SYMPATHISE with all those who are suffering the consequences of the dire and dangerous state of much of the Herefordshire road network.
To those affected I would say the next time you get a repair bill for pothole damage to your car or bike don’t just blame the council – blame Pothole Bill and Road Rut Jessie. 
They repeatedly vote at Westminster for deep cuts to funding which make Herefordshire bleed.
Shockingly, in February, they voted to slash our county’s funding  by more than 40 per cent. It is now up to the Herefordshire community to hold them responsible for the decay and decline we are witnessing. 
Continued cuts are hitting all local services, care for vulnerable elderly people, the education of our children, libraries, road maintenance and more.
The very future of our county is at stake. Up until now it’s been generally accepted that rural areas with sparsely spread and ageing populations need government grant to cover costs not met by our council tax. 
The hatchet job planned by Bill, Jessie and their gang to stop funding by 2019 would undermine Herefordshire completely.
Our council is debt-laden, struggling and impotent. I am aware that councillors of all parties have not wished to appear alarmist (maybe they should?), but they privately fear the worst. 
There is a very real and rather grim prospect that our county could be swallowed up by a regional authority based in Worcester or Birmingham.
Years back, Herefordshire fought hard to regain its pride and independence. I do hope the people of Herefordshire will again rise up. The general election is an excellent opportunity to send a clear signal to the ruling elite.

Decision time
SO, it is decision time....again....and I’m wondering just how many Hereford county residents and other Britons will consider carefully enough the problems of a ‘broken’ county and country....before deciding who is worthy of their vote? 
You’ll be happy with the reduction in quality of services provided during the years of austerity we have endured, will you? Road surfaces, road markings.... no money! You cannot just blame our councillors; income has been cut every year by the likes of Dave and George. 
There is a good chance this will continue, but you can change all that. If you own a machine, sensible people will have it serviced regularly. 
If the machine is neglected over the years then the final bill when it eventually breaks down will be more than if you had had it serviced regularly. 
When in the future is there going to be money available to ‘mend’ our county? 
Good question. I doubt Mrs May is going to start thinking in terms of ‘regular servicing’ and ‘mending’ our county. 
Over to you. The choice is yours, but don’t be ‘fed up of austerity’ and complain about lack of money for schools, NHS, police, roads, if you vote Conservative.
Michael WHITE

I’m for Lucy
I AM for the best South Hertfordshire parliamentary candidate Lucy Hurds.
Why Lucy, why not one of the main parties? 
I find it very difficult to trust political parties’ promises of “more” when they are borrowing £50 billion per year (about £1,000 for every man woman and child in the country) and more than 50% of National Health Trusts are in deficit. 
It is, at best, a joke, at worst, downright deceitful. 
Therefore I say a plague on both your houses. They are two sides of the same coin. They are shuffling the deckchairs while the ship slowly sinks.
What about celebrity leaders?
It appears the media is obsessed with celebrities, but, you only look what happened with the celebrity vote in the USA. ( trump that).
The only option is to vote for the best parliamentary candidate on the ballot paper and that is Lucy Hurds.
I spoke to someone recently who said: “ I went to school with Lucy Hurd’s dad.”
Lucy and her family are clearly rooted in Hereford and she is passionate about fighting for Hereford and its people.
I am for Lucy Hurds.
Brian Organ
Sutton St Nicholas

Backing shires
ACCORDING to the Daily Mail (24 May) taxpayers in London subsidise most of us who live in the sticks, by paying £3K more to the state on average than they get in services.
While this may well be true, it does not reflect the tens and perhaps hundreds of billions that London gets for its grandiose schemes such as HS2, Crossrail, the new runway at Heathrow, and perhaps Crossrail 2, while shire county funding is strangled, year after year.
London is now the nation’s perpetual motion machine, creating jobs that need more buildings, that have to be filled with more people, who need more housing and additional forms of transport that add to the levels of pollution.
Surely the time has come for shire-county MPs to band together, putting real pressure on central government for true equality between our cities and the shires.
Will the next two Herefordshire MPs commit to do this? 
They must.

An anomaly
I was interested to read Euan McPherson’s Talking Point article last week.
I am part of a recently established home care business, and we have done the ‘right thing’ by registering, at no small financial cost, with the Care Quality Commission.
This requires us to meet exacting standards across the board, including the area of recruitment. All staff must have an acceptable Enhanced DBS, or police check. An enhanced check means that even spent convictions are recorded, which is vital, given that staff will be lone working in vulnerable clients’ homes.
We are also required to have adequate Public Liability Insurance in place; again, another considerable financial outlay, when just starting up.
I have first-hand knowledge of people going into vulnerable people’s homes, without having had an interview, a DBS check, a health check or a request for references. 
I would also guess that proper insurance is also not in place, to protect the client, in these cases.
This anomaly in the system should be dealt with at the earliest opportunity.
With regard to the direct payment system, which is in principle a positive move, to provide clients with choice with regard to care provider, it remains funded by the taxpayer, and Herefordshire Council should expect the same kind of accountability  from care-givers who are not registered with the CQC, as those who are.

MAY I, through your columns, ask that light aircraft (including helicopter) pilots using Shobdon Airfield always think about those on the ground as they pursue their sport.
Most seem to be quite reasonable, but some (including one who regularly haunts the skies above Leysters/Pudleston/Kimbolton areas: he must have some link to this part of the world) do not seem to consider that their pleasure wheeling around skies is just an annoyance to those living below.  
Could they possibly spread it around a bit and not spend up to 40 minutes at a time causing a noise nuisance in one small area.
Thank you.

Floral delight
I REFER to the letter from Mr Jim Hardy in the Hereford Times of May 25 headed “Floral invasion”. Personally, I enjoy seeing wild flowers, bushes and trees on roadside verges, provided that they do not obstruct vision at junctions. 
However, I would not regard old tyres, positioned on verges to prevent them from being driven over, as “particularly attractive”.
I am amazed to read that Mr Hardy regards hedgehogs, mice and voles as “dangerous wild animals”. 
On the contrary is there not a nationwide appeal to protect hedgehogs, and not to cut them to pieces with garden machinery!
Stretton Sugwas