Great efforts
WE are so lucky to live in such a lovely location. It is no more than 2½ miles from the city centre, on a well-lit walk and cycle route; there are acres of public open spaces which are used by all ages: flying a kite or the modern equivalent, chatting up the girls, walking the dogs, cycling, pram pushing, gossiping with friends on the benches or just admiring the view over the city, to the hills beyond.
All this is made possible by the parish council who keep the public spaces so beautifully. 
All the verges and grassed areas are cut regularly; Abbeyfield East now has a myriad of wide mown paths allowing much more access. We moved here from another part of Hereford because we could see what we were missing. And we are so glad we have. The natives are friendly too!
This idyllic place is called Belmont (Pretty Hill). The patient and consistent upkeep which makes Belmont so special is down to the Parish Council, Belmont Rural. Much of the work is done voluntarily by councillors themselves. 
We thank them for their valiant and effective efforts on our behalf. 
We appreciate it and we are sure so do many others but they haven’t yet thought to write to tell you so!

Well qualified
I AM writing with reference to your article of June 28, with regard to Councillor Bruce Baker, as told by Councillor Udall.
I was left wondering if Cllr Udall had ever heard the phrase “pot calling the kettle black”. He has the audacity to accuse Cllr Baker of making disgraceful comments about the Grenfell Tower fire, and then using those same comments to make a cheap political point in an effort to gain the moral high ground. It should be Cllr Udall who is called to question in this matter.
Nobody who knows Cllr Baker could possibly accuse him of being disrespectful to those killed and injured at the scene of a tragedy. His comments were obviously aimed at the actions of councils across the whole of the country, and definitely not at anyone involved in the London tragedy. It is very easy to take comments out of context and blow them up into an inflammatory story.
To describe briefly Cllr Baker’s background, will serve to educate and explain the way, and the context in which these comments were made.
Cllr Baker served for a total of 35 years firstly in the British Army, and then in the Metropolitan Police in London. His successful police career saw him rise through the ranks. During this service he attended numerous incidents involving death and serious injury, including fire-related incidents. I can tell you that from my own 25-year career in the London Fire Brigade, the use of black humour to defuse the effects of tragedy is not uncommon, and is certainly not disrespectful. This may seem the opposite to those not familiar with such incidents.
In my opinion, with my Fire Brigade background, I consider Cllr Baker, with his wealth of knowledge and experience, to be the perfect representative to sit on the Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority. I wonder if others are so well qualified.
I am also very surprised that the Hereford Times rushed to print this article, without first asking Cllr Baker for his comments, to balance the story. 
There will always be people trying to make political capital from tragedy. Those people should be ignored and made to realise how stupid they make themselves look. Maybe the Worcestershire Councillor falls into this category.
Rob Pledge

Mega farms
COMPASSION in World Farming is to be congratulated for drawing attention to the proliferation of industrial livestock units and identifying Herefordshire as the most affected county in the UK.
CPRE Herefordshire has vigorously opposed a number of planning applications for these units and we have also campaigned for further proliferation to be halted. 
The problem has arisen, at least in part, by the failure of Herefordshire Council to address the issue of cumulative impact of these huge industrial units when assessing planning applications.
While animal welfare is of concern, our remit is to highlight the effect of the industrial nature of these units on the countryside including their scale, density and negative impact on the environment in terms of landscape, residential amenity, water quality and sustainability.
Together with our neighbours in Shropshire and Powys we are not only exposed directly to these objectionable impacts, but also suffer from another consequence of their existence: Along with all other UK taxpayers we are forced to subsidise these mega farms. No business rates are paid on the huge, industrial-type sheds, nor are road-taxes paid on the hundreds of very large farm vehicles needed to service them while wearing down our already dilapidated roads.
Chair, Herefordshire CPRE
Shucknall Hill

Down to us
WITH regards to your article ‘County top of factory farm listing’, it is beyond disappointment to note that Herefordshire together with Norfolk and Shropshire are responsible for the gassing of some 44 million animals without them seeing the light of day,
Who is responsible? Well farmers have to have permission for such a process and that is granted by Hereford Council and perhaps Cargill’s – do they encourage and sponsor the process?
No doubt they will all have wonderful excuses for the process but, farmers, what a horrendous procedure to make money.
The public, well, we can do something and I would urge everyone who buys chickens and pigs to question supermarkets and such organisations how and where they are produced.
If we stop buying from these systems we can have a wonderful effect on the life of many animals.

Vegan option
I WAS saddened to see that Herefordshire has some of the highest number of factory farms. 
It’s no wonder so many people are going vegan. 
Factory farming and the continuance of live exports, not to mention the terrible badger cull, all seem to be making veganism one of the fastest growing diets.
Moat Way

Home fields
MEMBERS of my cricket club, Penydarren Country XI, from Merthyr Tydfil thoroughly enjoyed your feature on Almeley Cricket Club in your edition of July 13.
Almeley is the quintessential village cricket club. 
It is undoubtedly the sort of place Rupert Brooke had in mind when he penned the famous poem Home Thoughts from Abroad.
The setting is idyllic and it is no surprise that Almeley was chosen by Wynford Vaughan Thomas for the BBC series The Countryside in Summer. 
Penydarren Country XI were the visiting team on that day in the 1970s and I was fortunate enough to play in the game.
I was equally fortunate to play at Almeley in May of this year. 
As ever the welcome and hospitality were impeccable as was the post-match camaraderie in The Bells. 
We look forward to returning in September for the final game of the season.
Long may Almeley CC thrive. We look forward to them reaching a ‘ton’!
Penydarren Country XI CC
Merthyr Tydfil

Thanks Keith
I WOULD like to say a huge thank you to Keith Davies, who saved my life on November 15 last year, as I was driving through Hereford.
I am a nurse from Shrewsbury, and a mother to two girls. 
I was driving to meet a friend in Cardiff, felt sick, then came to in an ambulance.
I was told Mr Davies was in the vehicle behind, he got out after noticing my car was rolling along, managed to open my door, put the handbrake on and pull me out. 
He laid me on the pavement with passers-by making me comfortable, and called an ambulance. If it wasn’t for his quick-thinking bravery and compassion for his fellow citizens it could have had a very different outcome. 
I am eternally grateful that he was there on that day.

Left to rot
THE news that Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has improved is absurd. 
The item was published on the same day as a report by Action for ME showing that the CCG has no data either for the number of people diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), or for specialised services provided for them.
That is not surprising as the CCG refuses to give any assistance to ME sufferers - none; we are just abandoned to rot.
The situation is all the more surprising as there are two to three times more people with ME than with MS (for which lots of help is available), and it imposes a worse quality of life than eg HIV/AIDS. (“I’d rather have HIV/AIDS than M.E.” Prof Nancy Klimas) 
Well, CCG, still feeling smug - or deeply embarrassed and ashamed by your callous indifference.
J Simpson

Slum standard
I AM appalled and horrified that any developer can seriously propose housing to the space standards shown in the current plans for Barons Cross, Leominster (Planning Application 172135/RM) - the post-war Slum Clearance would have had no hesitation in demolishing them.
At that time the minimum size for a single bedroom was 81 sq ft (7.5 sq m) and required space for access to at least two sides of the bed as well as room for a bedside table, wardrobe and chest of drawers. (Parker-Morris).
The largest single bedroom in this development is 66.7 sq ft (6.2 sq m) and the smallest is 40.9 sq ft (3.8 sq m); plan attached. Few third-world countries build like this! Prison cells are a luxury in comparison.
The 2015 RIBA recommended space standards for new housing were included in last year’s Leominster Neighbourhood Plan. They should be insisted upon.

And No1?
HEREFORDSHIRE Council leader Tony Johnson has just announced the appointment of Jonathan Lester as deputy leader with the comment that Mr Lester is “doing a sterling job with his young people and children’s wellbeing portfolio. His appointment as deputy leader reflects our priority for keeping children and young people safe and giving them a great start in life.”
This statement cannot go unchallenged. 
Mr Lester has in his portfolio overseen the closure of No 1 Ledbury Road Respite Centre for children with complex needs, after 30 years of invaluable service to the community. 
He has attempted to replace it with a number of alternatives, none of which are suitable for these children nor their parents. 
We are now left with a situation where we have some of the most vulnerable in society almost disregarded, and many of their parents at their wits’ end.
And for that Mr Lester is “promoted” ? Good heavens!

Carers role
HEREFORDSHIRE Carers Support assures readers that the numbers of carers in Herefordshire (your report on Carers Strategy July 27) are genuine despite Cllr James’ comments. 
Ask yourselves if one in six of people you know, your family and friends, have a caring role. 
I am sure they do. 
More and more of us become carers, often for several people at once, and save the country £60 billion plus per annum. 
But more often people don’t say they’re a carer at all. 
The council strategy will rightly help people identify as carers so they don’t struggle alone, till their own health gives out - vital especially for young carers as Cllr Bowen comments. 
HCS has always supported this vulnerable group, and works with schools to boost awareness so young carers are not disadvantaged. However none of this is funded by the council but by a patchwork of charitable funds. 
If a new council strategy means investment in this, all the better! HCS provides ‘one-stop’ support for carers that keeps the m going. Most councils have many more carers than Herefordshire and adopt this efficient approach. 
Our councillors have not answered convincingly why they think this must change and how. Let’s hear the answers!
Dr Sheila Marsh
Chair of Trustees 
Herefordshire Carers Support 
Staunton on Wye

Great staff
LAST week’s headline regarding the closure of Abbey Grange Residential Care Home was disquieting - a sad reflection on the management. 
While appreciating that there were underlying problems, I wish to pay tribute to the staff, mainly from the Philippines, who provided a very acceptable level of care, support and friendship to me during the months I was a resident there.
Former Resident 
Abbey Grange