Is it farming?
THE editorial comment in the Hereford Times rightly criticised people who move to the countryside and then complain about church bells or noise from a village pub.
It used the same argument to criticise people who complain about broiler units, citing the example of a farmer in Clehonger who has a well established business of 12,000 egg-layers by the farmhouse and wants to venture into broiler meat production. 
To my knowledge, the free-range egg-laying business has always been well supported by the Clehonger community. 
However, the proposed broiler chicken factory will house 212,000 chickens per flock (eight flocks proposed per year) and cover some three-and-a-half acres of prime agricultural land – hardly an expansion of existing farm business or even a comparable enterprise! And certainly nothing like a centuries-old church or pub!  
These broiler units will bring a large industrial factory into a rural community. It is not changing with the times, as claimed. 
Rural communities will always support traditional agriculture, but in the 21st century the food industry is promoting many other foods. 
It is telling that the Environment Agency treats broiler units as industrial businesses, not farming businesses.
We can only hope that planning controls will catch up one day as Herefordshire now has more than 700 of these chicken factory sheds, more than any other county in the UK.  
In the meantime, all that rural residents, rural businesses and those in tourism can do is continue to object to these intrusions.

I’m offended
I TOOK profound offence at the concluding paragraphs of your Comment column in this week’s paper. 
When I bought my house it was nowhere near any chicken production unit. 
I did not, nor would have chosen to, spend so much money to live within less than 400 metres of such a monstrosity. 
It imposed itself on me and on the village. 
The chicken production over the last 60 years has no relevance to the housing of several hundreds of thousands of birds packed together in vast sheds. 
Sixty years ago, and I was here then, chicken farmers counted their flocks in scores not multitudes. 
You are blaming the victims. If I am crying ‘fowl’ it is because I do not want fowl stuffed down my throat, or up my nose either. 
I was not guilty of any lack of foresight in choosing to live here, I was betrayed by those who ought have protected me. And that, it seems, includes the Hereford Times.

Helpful words
I FELT your comment today (Oct 12) was most helpful and informative. Thank you for your observations.
As Mayor of Hereford in 2016 I was invited to the opening of Cargill’s new chiller plant and was most impressed by both the technical innovation and the visibly happy employees I was privileged to meet and talk to.
I later arranged for a visit especially for councillors, and particularly the planning councillors, thinking that first-hand observation would be helpful to them if approached by their constituents. 
Only two showed any interest. In fact, some were quite hostile to me. 
I was quite amazed, since if councillors show such reticence and indeed hostility to business in Herefordshire we are indeed in trouble.
Your observation about poultry is spot on, in fact it is the major source of protein in the nation by a long shot. 
And while free-range situations might be great, they could never satisfy demand, and our other friend the fox would have a field day. 
I also had the opportunity to be shown round a modern broiler house and was most impressed by the conditions and regulations that must be observed.
Farm animals are not pets, they are a food source, but I would say from my observations that farm animals in this country, even if intensively farmed, are the best treated, even with such intensive regimes. 
The way our population is growing there will be even more need for such intense farming and there will be massive changes in the way we will need to produce food for the nation.
It can be here, where we have controls, or abroad where other nations have little respect for human life, let alone for animals, and instead of supporting our own business we will be importing. It’s as simple as that.

Charge points
AS the driver of a hybrid petrol/electric car, I should like to express my extreme frustration with the inadequacy of the electric charge points in Hereford.
There are two points in St Martin’s Avenue, which is the only location remotely convenient to me and, apart from the fact that the bays are not currently restricted to electric vehicles (although I understand this is about be addressed), I have used them successfully on many occasions.   
When these points were first installed they were run by a company called CYC and, with a smartphone app, they were free to use.   
However, some months ago the council changed the operating company to Chargemaster, after which the system should have remained the same but with a £1.20 administration fee per charge and an alternative option of subscribing to their card system for £7.50 per month.   
Using the app system would be just about economic for a hybrid car, but £7.50 per month for irregular use is definitely not, since hybrid cars can only take a relatively small amount of charge.  
The problem is that the Chargemaster app didn’t work properly and, rather than fix this, they have withdrawn it altogether in favour of the more expensive card system. Fully electric vehicles can travel about 100 miles on a charge, so I imagine that local owners would charge up fully at home and not have the need for the £7.50 per month subscription either.
I have put this conundrum to the council, who are sympathetic but are seemingly unable to do anything about it.
As a result, I can envisage these charge points getting very little use, despite the council’s laudable if belated efforts to make the bays exclusive to the users of electric vehicles while charging.

Beauty at risk
ERGYNG/Archenfield (in West Herefordshire) requires a separate economic plan that places a true financial value on the beauty of the landscape, and supports the region as a tourist destination. 
The Herefordshire economic model, which includes the continual destruction of our roads and infrastructure by over-sized long-distance industrial and agricultural haulage (often by monster tractor-and-trailer units using road-scouring agricultural tyres) is hugely damaging to our heritage and tourist economy. 
Nothing demonstrates this more than the expected imminent collapse of our beautiful, poorly-maintained, Bredwardine Bridge, which is being subjected to heavy loads and traffic far in excess of what it was designed for. 
When it finally collapses, like Eastham Bridge in 2016, this will, no doubt, be blamed on climate change, and it will be replaced with an unseemly concrete monstrosity, further degrading our landscape value.

Respite lost
HEREFORDSHIRE Council intends to close the respite centre in Ledbury Road. 
This is a disaster for all those who use the centre. It is a lifeline for all those who care for the most vulnerable people in Herefordshire. 
The reason is lack of funding. The vast majority of people who read this newspaper pay council tax, so surely should be consulted on where our money is being spent?
I hope that this newspaper will investigate thoroughly and with rigour exactly what is going on in this council.
I trust the results of this investigation will be given to the readers of this newspaper as soon as possible so that a democratic decision can be reached on this and other matters pertaining to the council.

Shop closure
I AM writing to inform the book readers of Hereford that we are in danger of losing one of our best bookshops. Chapters Charity Bookshop in Union Street has been there for many years and has provided me with many hours of browsing and excellent finds. 
New bookshops are very useful but do not provide those books that are no longer published and often difficult to find, thus the need for second-hand. 
I understand that the trust which runs it are experiencing a steady decline in customer numbers. 
Perhaps this is due to its position within the city or the competition from other charity shops. 
What the shop obviously needs is more customers, and I would urge both old and new customers to go there soon, before it is too late. 

Pricey fares
ALTHOUGH I work outside Hereford, it is necessary for me to travel into the city quite frequently for appointments and such. With there being a bus stop opposite my home, getting a bus would be quite convenient. 
However, I was shocked that is cost, £4 for a return ticket. 
It won’t sound like much to many people, but as a disabled person working part-time with their benefits recently taken away, £4 seems excessive. 
If I am just going into town for an hour or so for an appointment it is cheaper for me to drive and park.Surely, with the council taking away car parks and the massive traffic problems in the city it would make more sense for them to make it cheaper to travel on the bus than to drive.
And no, I’m not eligible for a disabled person’s bus pass. I’ve tried!

Yellow signs
CONGRATULATIONS to Herefordshire Council for providing us with all those lovely yellow diversion signs. They enable tourists to visit places in the county which they have never visited and didn’t know of their existence. 
Counting yellow signs has now taken over from I-Spy as in-car entertainment. 
Unfortunately, for those wishing to find Hereford, or for local workers, the daily commute is now a nightmare of rat-runs and traffic jams.
High blood pressure the order of the day!

Roads fiasco
WHAT a fiasco! The A4103 at Stiffords Bridge was to be closed for eight days. 
It took three weeks to move past the B4220 to Bromyard
Why have Balfour Beatty decided to leave closed a resurfaced and finished line-painted section between the left-turn to Cradley and the right-turn to Bromyard?
Bollards are placed at the bottom of the hill every day to stop Hereford-bound traffic, while nothing happens on the hill above.
So why are drivers to Bromyard subjected to a 10-mile detour when a very usable section of the A4103 is arbitrarily closed off?
A spokesman for Balfour Beatty advised me to take my lorry through Suckley, despite there being a ‘no access for HGVs’ sign at the nearest B-road.
At the bottom of the hill there are no diversion signs and when I queried this was told that signage was just too expensive.
I then asked why the B4220 still had signs in Bromyard saying there is no access to the A4103 when this is blatantly untrue.
The response was again unhelpful. I was told it was too costly to upgrade the signs as the works progressed. 
Do we need to get a new transport engineering company that understands customer service ahead of profits?
The council’s website on road closures has not updated, and neither the council’s nor Balfour Beatty’s advice correlate with Google Maps that shows the road open. Poor show all-around!

No scrutiny
FOR a number of weeks Councillor AW Johnson has attempted to deflect attention away from his council’s overspending on projects by claiming that the opposition group should have taken the matter to the scrutiny committee.
Their reluctance to do this is puzzling. Could this committee have a track record of finding in favour of the council so often that it is not worth the opposition groups pushing items before the said committee?
Cllr Johnson should identity all members of the scrutiny committee positions held and identify which political group each member supports.

Old records
I RECENTLY purchased a box of gramophone records. 
Among them is an EP (extended play) recorded by Leominster Junior School Brass Band, 1974, Conductor: Stanley Davies.
The sleeve has a photograph of the band members on the front. I wondered if anyone would like to own the record.
If so I will post it to them free of charge. Meanwhile, I will get in touch with the local radio station to see if they will play it.
Tenbury Wells