Jobsworths inflict misery
Dear Mr Cameron
AS much as we admire and support the concept of the Big Society, it will never amount to more than a well-intentioned myth, if un-elected and unaccountable jobsworths are allowed to ride roughshod over the wishes of the community.
A case in point concerns the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and their successful appeal against the refusal of their planning application by Lewes District Council.
The Planning Inspector has seen fit to allow a development that will benefit no more than four additional pupils and create an industrial eyesore in their open space (untouched for more than 40 years) while also demolishing a historical and iconic landmark building, that they accept meets their current accommodation needs. And all this at a cost of some £9 million.
All aspects of this development are wholly inappropriate; not just because of the nature of the area but because it creates an unacceptable precedent that will blight the area as well as the lives of all those who live locally.
It would appear that local objection (more than 200 objectors) carries no weight. In fact it is possible that the Planning Inspectorate, whose considerations were limited to written submissions and a single site visit, didn’t bother even opening the relevant correspondence from a wide range of objectors. (Perhaps this is an abuse of due process?)
All this has a very unpleasant stink, especially as your colleague Eric Pickles MP is tasked with taking powers over planning matters from councils, and giving them to local communities.
Our community has made our objections clear and these have been reflected by Lewes District Council and their unanimous decision to vote against the proposed development. Yet we can still be dumped on by the faceless demagogues of Tower Hamlets.
Here in Seaford, we’re used to being dumped on. But it’s especially disappointing when the dumper is our local NHS Primary Care Trust who, after six years of negotiation, meetings, plans etc finally decided to upgrade our woefully inadequate healthcare facilities by the provision of a minor injuries unit, various clinics, X-ray facilities and a permanent ambulance station.
This has all come to nought; the decision has been revoked by East Sussex Downs and Weald PCT.
This is not just disappointing but very worrying given the age profile of the majority of our population.
With an ageing population generally, here in Seaford it is above average and is increasing. Our current population is c 24,750 with the majority above retirement age.
As Seaford is a popular retirement town, currently there are plans (either at the planning stage or currently approved) for upwards of 500 new housing units (houses, flats, care home places etc). There are no corresponding plans for any improvements in any aspects of the necessary infrastructure; especially healthcare and transport.
But with the PCTs being disbanded in 2013, their unwillingness to make previously-agreed commitments come to fruition, is understandable. After all, these individuals will be caring more about their jobs than those who they profess to serve. And some will even re-invent themselves as consultants to whatever interim and/or commissioning body emerges to effect the hand-over of assets and service delivery via GP surgeries.
A further concern is the unacceptable waiting time at the A&E department of our local hospital. Our own experiences range from five hours for an elderly (94) relative in a wheelchair and in obvious pain, to seven hours for a routine procedure requiring a few stitches. Not a record to be proud of.
But, however hard one complains, the faceless jobsworths have the final word. It’s usually ‘no’. Apart from reminding them who pays their wages; nothing changes for the better.
Brave talk is one thing. But real action, at a local and accountable level, is what is now required to make the whole concept of the Big Society a community-led reality. We would like to believe that our voices would be heard. That our concerns are noted and acted upon. And that we are reassured that the day of the jobsworth, who can inflict much misery upon a community, is soon to be over.
What would we like you to do? Mainly it is to see what can be done to overturn the unwelcome and ill thought-out decision of the Planning Inspectorate. As for our much-needed healthcare improvements, we appreciate that little can be done other than to be reassured that our needs will be recognised; and not forgotten.
Your help, understanding and support will be much appreciated.
Paul and Lesley
Freeze out Fuel Poverty
I AM writing to back Macmillan Cancer Support’s campaign to Freeze Out Fuel Poverty for cancer patients.
Greg Barker, our local MP for Bexhill and Battle, is overseeing the implementation of a new scheme that could help vulnerable people struggling with their fuel bills. As the Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, he is responsible for deciding who should be eligible for extra help.
People with cancer often have high energy bills due to spending long periods of time at home during treatment or recovery and may feel the cold more because of their condition. More often than not, higher bills coincide with a drop in household income because they are unable to work.
The Coalition is committed to protecting the ‘poorest and most vulnerable in society’ but people with cancer will lose out on vital help to pay their fuel bills unless they are included in the Warm Home Discount scheme. This scheme will oblige energy companies to provide an annual rebate to vulnerable people struggling with fuel bills from April this year.
Terminally ill people must be included in the core group who will automatically receive an energy rebate from their provider and people undergoing treatment or receiving certain benefits should be prioritised as part of the broader group who will need to apply for the rebate.
With energy prices set to rise and freezing temperatures across the country, it is more important than ever that vulnerable people are protected by this new scheme.
Join Macmillan’s campaign at http://www.infi-knit.org.uk/ and add your name to their freeze out fuel poverty pledge.
A good plan, except....
JOHN Stockdale’s suggestion of a conscript army of school children and parking attendants to clear snow certainly has possibilities (Sussex Express, January 7).
Apart from minor legal technicalities, I can only foresee a few snags. Firstly, I doubt that parking attendants would be insured to clear snow.
Secondly, I don’t think that the key stage four citizenship scheme would get past first base. Schools tend to close in bad weather because teachers can’t get into school or conditions make it too dangerous for children to attend. Schools are also required to get written parental consent for their children to be participating in activities out of school on a particular day. That activity also has to be risk assessed in the interests of pupil safety.
In bad weather, I doubt that you would have sufficient teachers or pupils to make the scheme work, even if parents agreed to the idea. I also doubt that the risk assessment would permit it.
But I don’t wish to blow my old mate’s idea away completely. How about the idea of the council leaving full grit bins around the town in order that local residents can get out and clear their own bit of pavement? A full grit bin is impossible to steal.
John could also incur the wrath of his Party by campaigning against the cuts and fighting for proper local authority funding so that councils have the budget to clear snow and ice in a professional and coordinated fashion.
Bill Ball, Lewes
Players was a group idea
THANK you for your recent piece on the launch of The Player’s Collective. I would like to correct the impression that the company is my ‘brainchild’. It is, just as the name suggests, the product of a great number of us sitting down together to see how we may stimulate new drama; or perhaps more accurately new ways of staging drama, redolent of the old strolling players. We are all members of Lewes Theatre and intend to remain so, seeing our venture as an adjunct to theatre in Lewes and certainly not a competitor. Our first major production, a new take on a drama over 2,000 years old (and very bawdy), Lysistrata will be staged at All Saints Centre on March 13, 14, 15 and at Cafe des Artistes on March 17, all at 7.30pm. Details from Lewes Tourist Office.
Victoria Thompson, Lewes
Fees: It makes you wonder
THE correspondence about tuition fees raises some questions: 1, If these fees are so significant why weren’t the Liberal Democrats voted into government? 2, Did all the people now complaining vote Liberal Democrat?
3, If not why not? 4, Is there a suspicion of political point scoring? 5, Or hypocrisy?
Did you know this butcher?
I’M researching my late mother’s maiden name of Pocock and I’ve been told that the Pococks had a butcher’s shop in West End, Herstmonceux.
What I would like to know, if any reader could give me any information please, is the names of the butcher, his wife and any children. Also, has anybody got a photo of the shop, and if possible, the years the shop was there.
Very many thanks if you can help me.
Mr P Sands,
10 Fletching Road, Hampden Park,
Eastbourne BN22 9DU