Meet tonight
THOSE who like me were shocked by the Grenfell Tower tragedy can do something locally. 
Although Herefordshire has no tower blocks like Grenfell and is dissimilar in many ways to Kensington & Chelsea, lessons can be applied here so we avoid creating low-quality housing which compromises individual wellbeing, while also failing to address community needs. 
At Grenfell, the local community was excluded from decision-making, with disastrous consequences. 
Here in Herefordshire, despite the many neighbourhood plans in process, people commonly feel disempowered seeing ‘dormitory’ developments by volume-housebuilders springing up everywhere - developments which often do not meet local needs.
A principal lesson from Grenfell is that to ensure ‘fit-for-purpose’ housing-supply and especially affordable housing, we need to put local communities centre-stage. 
Local communities should be able to design and initiate housing projects which address local needs, including affordable sustainable housing kept in community control long-term. 
A rapidly growing movement nationwide now provides just such an alternative: Community-Led Housing (CLH) organisations, of which there are several locally including Hereford Community Land Trust. 
Recognising the potential of CLH, the government is funding ‘capacity-building’ in this sector and Herefordshire recently received £503,000 which opens exciting opportunities.
Hereford CLT intends to work alongside the council and other CLH organisations to establish a Herefordshire Centre for CLH, aimed at establishing community-led alternatives to standard profit-driven house-building, enabling communities to pro-actively shape quality housing provision which is genuinely affordable, sustainable, and addresses the real pressing needs of local communities. 
The Grenfell tragedy provides a wake-up call to communities everywhere. 
We encourage local people to get involved and wherever they live invite them to attend Hereford CLT’s forthcoming meeting tonight, Thursday, June 29, at 5pm – email for details.
Nick Sherwood 
Hereford Community Land Trust
Not much say
SO we, the Kington public, finally get to see our “neighbourhood” plan.  
I say “our neighbourhood plan” but I do not believe Kington residents have had much say in the whole process to date.
Surely there should have been far more open discussion before this stage - in fact where we are now with a consultation to gather public opinion should have happened right at the start of the process. 
Instead, there has been little or no encouragement from the aptly named Steering Planning Group Committee to consider what anybody other than themselves think may be a good idea. 
Where genuine concerns have been raised, eg at a public meeting in July last year - these have been completely ignored.
How and by whom was the decision about the proposed settlement boundary made?
A 2013 Kington questionnaire report suggested housing in small clusters on redundant sites. How does this equate to a large 100+ dwelling development on a green-field site which is totally out of character to Kington?
I would strongly question how much input Kington residents have had in the process of creating this neighbourhood plan. It appears to have been decided by two or three members pushing for their vision of what should happen in Kington. 
Decisions have been made at council level when very few councillors are present (five or six) or even fewer members of the public (zero or one) because the meetings were not adequately publicised. 
For example: There was a meeting on December 8, 2015, minutes of which were published on a website eight months later! 
Attending this meeting: one person responsible for Huntington, one person responsible for Kington Rural, one Kington Councillor who has since resigned, one council member who was attending for the first time and the chairman and secretary.
There were no members of the public in attendance!
Decisions for Kington were therefore made by two people which resulted in major and significant changes to previous plans.
Decisions were made behind closed doors at what turned out to be a secret meeting because advance notification was not forthcoming.
The Kington Chronicle has now been received giving details of a proposed Kington “Neighbourhood” Plan - better late than never one might say.
Residents finally have a chance to give their views. 
We must make them strongly so that they can no longer be ignored.

No homework
TOWN developments are in the news again (Hereford Times, June 15) and Kington is getting into the act with a survey of potential sites for new houses around the town and questionnaires to all of us for suggestions.
However, there doesn’t seem to have been any homework done on the necessary back-up for this. 
Development is necessary and unavoidable but we need to be sure that basic services can cope – water supply and drainage for example, and can the local schools manage any increased numbers, and as one site is specified for sheltered housing, how will their support service (medical etc.) manage?
An increase in the central shopping area is proposed, but there is no suggestion about any increase in car parking nearby. 
Some sites worthy of consideration have not been included (why?) and also the livestock auction market, in the town centre (occupying a space of two football fields in size) but only used commercially for six days in any month, and more and more difficult access is not mentioned.
Tourism is rightly flagged up as worthy of development - but for every extra bed offered to a visitor, is that one less available for a local?
Of course, the flood plain is included, but here I might be previously inclined to agree, as our house is on the border of one and any development in front could offer us some protection there.

Telecoms woe
I AM frustrated by the lack of telecoms in Herefordshire.
1. In central Leominster we have been denied fibre broadband (for a number of years) due to cabinet being denied planning as it would be outside a listed building.
2. EE signal keeps failing in Etnam Street area - I cannot telephone my handicapped son.
3. Newly installed EV car charger point in Ledbury has failed due to inconsistent mobile signal. I can make my morning commute on electricity but the home run is petrol. Now the responsibility is being put on the shoulders of Herefordshire Council to provide a dedicated ethernet connection, with the charger and two dedicated spaces lying unused in the meantime.
When will things improve?

Right place?
On Friday, June 16, walking past the cathedral, I saw a sales promotion of BMW cars on Cathedral Green run by Cotswold Mini, with six sports cars parked across the grass, and in the entrance to the cathedral. 
These promotions are a familiar sight in Hightown, but this was the first I have seen on the green. 
The company representative assured me it was being done with the permission of the church.
Although not a religious believer myself, I have always appreciated the sense in which Cathedral Green forms a beautiful calm oasis in the heart of the city away from the hustle and bustle of the commercial areas, and it seemed to me inappropriate for it to be used in this way. 
While commercial activity in the surroundings of the church has been common in the past, I personally would like to see this space as it exists now kept as a place suitable for quiet reflection and contemplation. 
This is an important debate about the use of our public spaces, to which I would like to invite representatives of the company involved, the Church and others to contribute.

Saw it coming
THIS government promised us a “bonfire of regulations”. 
In 1821 the German poet, Heinrich Heine wrote that: “those who now burn books, will in the end, burn men”. 
Every one of us who worked in the public sector saw it coming.

Realistic rate
REGARDING Lindsay May’s concerns for the safeguarding of elderly and disabled people on the direct payment scheme (“An Anomaly”, Hereford Times letters page, June 8), perhaps she does not know that Herefordshire Council only pays them a maximum of £14 per hour for their care regardless of the actual cost they have to pay.
I do not know of any care agency in the county which charges its clients as little as £14.
At the same time, to save money, Herefordshire Council is actively encouraging vulnerable elderly and disabled people to turn to friends, neighbours and family members most of whom will not be trained, insured, regulated or police-checked – as Ms May rightly points out. 
The safeguarding implications are obvious, but the council seems unconcerned.
If Ms May and other care agencies could persuade Herefordshire Council to pay direct payment recipients a realistic hourly rate they would truly be giving them a choice of care provider.

Scam warning
I ARRANGED with your newspaper to advertise my car for sale and it was also on your web site. 
The problem of scams has nothing to do with your newspaper as you are powerless to stop it. 
This is to warn people using this advertising facility to be aware of such scams.
I received a text saying the sender was interested in the car for his son and it was agreed the money would be sent, for security purposes via my PayPal account, but as father lived in America he was sending an extra £400 so that I could transfer the money over to the agency collecting the car.
I also received a letter supposedly from PayPal saying the money was held in my account and would I transfer the £400 to the agent. 
I was somewhat suspicious but could see not a lot wrong except the letter was addressed to my email address which was unusual for PayPal.
I went to the GPO in Hereford and the clerk immediately identified it as a fraud and this was subsequently confirmed by PayPal.
This is to warn people, if you are selling something, beware if they say they want an agency to collect and send money via a moneygram. 
I nearly fell for it and I probably would but for the lady at the Post Office.
Aylestone Hill

Choice made
HEREFORDSHIRE Council is guilty of deception and extravagance, pretending a bypass route has yet to be chosen for the Wye Special Area of Conservation crossing, and allocating a consultation budget from its dwindling resources allegedly to determine the route of the bypass. 
The charge of deception stands because the council has clearly already chosen a route for the river crossing. 
The charge of extravagance stands because the council is spending money on a consultation which, in this case, is meaningless.
Legal costs are running high, with letters being sent to landowners threatening the use of legal action if agreement for access to enter and survey land is not granted within seven working days. 
What is the urgency when traffic flows over Greyfriars Bridge are decreasing, the bypass scheme has not received government funding, and the Southern Link Road is at least two years behind schedule? 
The economic case for the Western Bypass has not been made except in terms of housing growth at some point in the future. 
Meanwhile the clamour to mend the roads we have is drowned out by spurious claims from the council that new roads outside the city will ease traffic congestion within it.

So grateful
DUE to a very nasty chest infection I recently had to be admitted to Arrow Ward of Hereford Hospital.
I cannot possibly thank enough, all the doctors, nurses and ancillary staff for the excellent care provided to me.
I would also like to thank all the nurses of the hospital at home service for their kindness in the continuation of my treatment at home by administering the remainder of my intravenous antibiotics, thereby not only enabling me to return home early to continue my recovery, but also free up a hospital bed. 
Your care and kindness is greatly appreciated.