Readers' Letters - September 24 2009

Readers' letters from the September 24 issue of the Observer.

We need action now to make our roads safer

I read with interest the article in the Observer regarding the problem of traffic through the village of Compton and would like to highlight similar concerns we have in Oving.

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Despite the supposedly traffic-calming red areas on the road as you enter the village of Oving, we are still plagued by speeding traffic.

In the early hours of Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago, the young driver of a car lost control as he entered the village at speed.

Apparently the car hit the kerb then bounced along the garden walls of the row of cottages before ending up in my neighbour's garden.

Skid marks along the pavement and damage to the walls clearly marked its progress!

Fortunately, neither the driver nor his passenger were hurt and luckily, because of the time of this incident, nor was anyone else.

However, my neighbour has two small children and I have a three-year-old granddaughter and had this accident happened when any of us

were walking on the pavement, we would have been killed instantly.

The powers-that-be need urgently to look into the problem of speeding traffic through our lovely villages before there is a fatality. Lower speed limits definitely need to be imposed.

May I suggest the re-opening of the old road from Oving to Shopwhyke could offer a part solution in that it may help ease the volume of traffic that passes through Oving especially at peak times.

M Holdaway, High Street, Oving

I was interested to read the story about traffic in Compton.

It is not surprising local people are concerned about the traffic considering the way they are treated by the local authority.

My daughter lives in Forestside, not far from Compton, and she asked me if I would like to attend a meeting about traffic in the local area when I was staying with her recently.

I work at the Department for Transport in London and was interested to hear how things were dealt with locally in West Sussex.

I am unable to remember the name of the man who represented the council's roads, but I do remember how impressed I was that local people did not rise up as a collective body to ridicule the way they were being patronised by the executive.

Compton does have a traffic problem. I would suggest it is not just speed but the size of vehicles which are allowed to use a road which is definitely not fit for such purposes.

John Banbury, Revelstoke Road, Camberwell, London

As a resident of Compton, what is reported in Clare Hawkin's piece is sadly only too true.

The council has in the past maintained there is no speeding problem in this village that has a single narrow carriageway with a Z-bend with adverse camber

at the southern end.

I am told a very recent check, carried out by the highways department, has recorded speeds over 50mph. How that vehicle negotiated through this lane is beyond imagination!

The greatest danger is during school term time when the very small square is crowded with mums, many who jam the place with cars, as they ferry their offspring to the school.

Mothers consider the roadway too dangerous to allow children walk or cycle as there is no footpath for much of its length.

West Sussex Council is aware, as Clare reported, because representations have been made to it for many years now, but still nothing is done. Do people at the council require deaths or injuries to happen before getting off their butts?

As far as reducing the limit to 20mph, West Sussex would only be trailing others, not setting an example.

Why is it individuals never put their heads above the parapet and take a lead, especially when children's safety is at stake?

Come on councillors, do what you are paid for!

John Harmer, Compton

Beware the Euro city guide scam targeting businesses

I would like to warn people who own or run a business to beware of a possible scam involving a book called The European City Guide.

A Spanish company, based in Valencia, sends out a letter asking if the details of the business are correct for inclusion in their city guide.

The unsuspecting recipient duly fills in the form confirming their business details and sends it off, thinking the service is free.

A short time later they receive an invoice for approximately 800 to be paid each year for the next three years.

Failure to pay results in letters threatening court action if the amount is not paid.

I have had a growing number of letters and emails from small businesses, worried they may be taken to court thereby damaging their companies' credit rating.

Anyone who receives a letter from this Spanish company should tear it up and throw it away, but if it has been filled

in and threatening letter follows, they should do the following:

* Seek legal advice

* Do not pay any money

* Report the matter to your local Trading Standards Office

* Write to the company telling them you have taken legal advice and reported them to the Fraud Squad.

It is unlikely the Spanish company would seek redress through the British courts as their offer is dubious at best or fraudulent at worst.

The EU Commission were asked to investigate and they tried to get the Spanish authorities in Valencia to act '“ to no avail.

I must emphasise legal advice is paramount, not only to establish whether you can ignore the threatening letters but to put one's mind at rest.

David Samuel-Camps BA (Hons) Dip PA, Church Lane, Lyminster

Over-55s have a real place in this city too

In his letter of September 17, Mr Arnold refers to flats in Stockbridge Road with permission for elderly people, but wardens do not exist.

There are service flats. These have planning permission for retirement occupation (over 55) but we are independent people, buying our leases and paying for our services, including a management team.

The planning for this having been granted '“ let's be realistic '“ and with most retirement occupiers being more than 55 up to any age, the High School site is conspicuously unsuitable for students.

I agree with the rest of Mr Arnold's letter. Why should we be told we must get used to it because the city needs the students' money? Does it not need ours? We live here all the time and spend our money.

Everything I possess is here. I have nowhere else to go and I live here.

Why should I be told I am of no account and must put up with it for the rest of my life?

Why should I and other retired people be told in this city we cannot expect consideration?

The value of our properties will be reduced when we or our heirs have to sell up.

Miss OJ Wilkins, Stockbridge Road, Chichester

Not shipshape for disabled visitors '“ but improvements are on way

As the debate rages on about the extension to The Ship Hotel being ugly, there is another unattractive issue which needs to be put right.

The Ship Hotel is a no-go area for disabled people who wish to stay or attend a function there.

The new hotel at the post office site will have disabled parking, good access and disability friendly rooms.

West Sussex Association for Disabled People (WSAD) and the Chichester Access Group looks to the owners to make the Ship Hotel fit for Chichester on the inside as

well as the outside.

WSAD is a campaigner for good disability access in West Sussex. If you are both business and disability minded, WSAD is looking for new trustees. Contact us on 01 903 244457.

Roland Higgins, West Sussex Association for Disabled People, St John's Parade, Goring by Sea

* John Chesterman of the Ship Hotel replies: We obviously take our responsibilities to disabled guests very seriously.

While we have the usual ramps for disabled access into the hotel's bar and brasserie, we are very aware of the Ship's existing limitations for wheelchair users needing rest room facilities.

One of the main drivers behind the recent planning application to extend and modernise the hotel is to make sure we do provide a more disabled-friendly hotel.

Notwithstanding this commitment, we are also advised the new extension to the rear will also have to be fully building regulation compliant.

Therefore, as the extension will not be hampered by the physical constraints created by the existing Grade II listed fabric of the main building, we hope to address the concerns raised by WSAD.

As for the extension's attractiveness we continue to work with Chichester District Council to arrive at a suitable design so we can continue to sustain the improvements made at the Ship over the past six months.

To that end I hope we will be able to welcome all guests to a further improved Ship Hotel in 2010-2011.

Penalised for deciding not to have kids

I am keen to discover if there are other young people, like my husband and I, who are constantly penalised by not only the local council but also on a national level because of our decision NOT to have had a baby at the age of 21.

My husband and I first came across this issue with the local council almost two years ago.

We needed housing as we were being turned out of our rented accommodation and returning to our parents wasn't an option because of space.

The local council apparently could not help to house us, nor could they help us with our rent on a private property as... we did not have a baby.

They were helpful, though, and calculated for us how much child benefit we could claim per week if we had one.

I have just completed training as a primary school teacher and work part-time. My husband, who works long hours and supports us both, tried to claim tax credits and found online we would be eligible for a considerable sum.

However, on phoning the helpline we found that tax credits are only paid to those over the age of 24 '“ unless, of course, you have a baby, in which case we could claim tax credits and child benefit.

It isn't that I don't think people should have children at a young age or without being married first. I just want to know why there is no support for those who don't have children.

Why is it that on a local and national level young couples are being penalised for choosing to not have children young?

Are there other couples, who despite doing everything seemingly the right way around are finding themselves, like us, considering that maybe we should have just had that baby at 19 as originally suggested to us?

S Pinnington, Hilltop, Cocking

One carbon rule for Goodwood, and one for us

I see from an article in last week's Observer that West Sussex County Council has signed up to the 10.10 agreement for the reduction of carbon emissions.

Very commendable, but how does it equate such small actions as cycling and using low-energy lightbulbs (measures that many of us already employ) with the petrolheads' jamboree presently assaulting my ears at the Goodwood Revival meeting?

This, along with the Festival of Speed, must give the Earl of March a carbon footprint the size of Australia, so what difference are my efforts going to make?

Not only do the events themselves cause a huge amount of pollution, both noise and carbon, but the amount of traffic engendered by people attending, along with the inconvenience for other people, surely cannot be justified in these days of environmental awareness.

If the county council is serious about carbon emissions, which I fear it's not, then the rules should apply to everyone.

Please, let's no longer have these double standards.

Wendy Hickey, Norwich Road, Chichester

Flouting the law

I recently bought a Highway Code to update on current rules and regulations. It quite clearly states cyclists must not ride on the pavement and that a 500 fine could be enforced.

It is extremely annoying that so many cyclists ignore the above and that dog walkers and other pedestrians are frequently in danger of injury or abuse.

At one time the community police used to apprehend cyclists '“ have they given up?

It seems we are missing out on a substantial form of justifiable revenue each year!

It is unfair that motorists are a constant target for fines and penalties. Cyclists appear to be a law unto themselves.

Stefanie Bacon, Caledonian Road, Chichester

Harbour fears

I have seen on the web harbour safety officer David White's position is under threat. We have watched David in action several times over the years which has made us feel very safe.

My family visit Bracklesham Bay throughout the year. We will certainly reconsider this if a valuable and experienced member of staff is lost.

We consider our safety to be of a high priority when using the beach and while swimming.

Cheryl, David & Family, Horley, Surrey

So safety officer David White is going to be replaced '“ just to save money. What folly. Remember, it's a cruel sea.

Mrs J Vines, Legion Way, Bracklesham Bay

Small is beautiful '“ our only cinema must survive

I would like to express my support for the Bognor Picturedrome, and my concern over the plans to develop flats on the site of the larger screen.

Not only is the building important historically, but for me cinemas are both important socially and, in a sense, psychologically.

I am fortunate enough to be mobile and have transport so I can get to larger cinema complexes, but I choose the Bognor cinema because it is smaller, and benefits from:

* Having a smaller screen '“ images are not so 'in your face and over the top'.

* Having a lower sound intensity '“ much more comfortable for hearing dialogue, not blasting out so loud earplugs are needed, as in some large complexes (yes, really).

* Being more personal, because on a smaller scale, and less likely to attract a yobby crowd mentality.

* Engendering a more friendly atmosphere.

Overall the experience of attending the Bognor cinema is far more comfortable and pleasant than any large cinema complex.

I spend a fair amount of time in London and have been to various cinema complexes including the Shepherds Bush Vue '“ which I hated, as it was so big and loud.

I now attend only the Bognor cinema, and would be most upset if this facility were removed. The Grade II listed qualities are an additional bonus, which I appreciate

very much.

Harriet Muir, Aldwick Road, Bognor Regis

How arrogant of planning agent Paul Langridge to expect mothers to take their children to the nearest multiplex, which is Chichester, and all the bus fares it incurs.

Ray Waller, Highcroft Crescent, Bognor Regis

I was happy to hear the Picturedrome cinema had been granted a Grade II listing, then heartbroken with the news this wonderful cinema could be turned into flats.

I dread to think of the auditorium being mutilated to house accommodation.

Some of the points in listing the Picturedrome included the fine ornate architectural design of its interior. Most or all would be destroyed if the work is carried out.

Does Bognor need more flats? The answer is no. I remember the town in the 1950s and 60s, and a time when Bognor Regis had seaside charm of its own. Now the promenade has been transformed into a row of flats, with many unsold.

The demise of the traditional cinema first came with the introduction of television, followed by home video, and now the multiplex trend has forced some of the last to close, mostly for redevelopment, never to return.

But having said that, the Picturedrome has proved strong and continued to entertain the cinema-going public over the years.

The recent meeting at the Picturedrome brought people of all ages together with one thing in mind '“ to save their cinema.

It's something to cherish and they will fight on to save this beautiful old building from redevelopment vandals.

If the Picturedrome continues its tradition showing films, then much-needed extra screens could strengthen its profit.

Are there still plans to create two screens in the car park? These could easily house more than 100 seats in each auditorium.

The time has come to act now with a plan to preserve this much-loved cinema for all to enjoy.

David Stickland, Yapton Road, Climping

I attended the meeting concerning the proposal to turn Bognor Regis Picturedrome cinema into four flats.

I would like to register my complete horror such a lovely building, which is in the heart of Bognor town centre, should even be considered for this purpose.

If Bognor Regis Town Council ensured there was enough money to keep our cinema, rather than watching Bognor Pier Co getting rid of a viable, much-needed and loved icon of the town so it could be turned into flats, its continued use as a valuable asset to the community would be a feather in its cap, and residents and visitors will be able to enjoy it for years to come.

We are a seaside town that likes to be different. We have our little quirks and that is why people are attracted to Bognor.

If we are to be one of the best resorts on the south coast we need to keep this building, a good cinema in a beautiful building.

It is essential to keep the originality and quaintness that will keep our Bognor uppermost in people's minds.

Mr & Mrs Coyne, Parkfield Avenue, Aldwick

Tories were wrong to freeze out council opposition to their increases

I was disgusted, but not surprised, to note in the Bognor Regis Observer the Conservative majority of Arun District Council have brushed aside the bid by the other council members to freeze their allowances.

Not only that, but they have slashed the allowances of all the opposition councillors when, with the Tories' vast majority, we need a strong opposition.

Two other items I read with interest. One was about regeneration plans.

Norman Dingemans says we have bucked the trend with regeneration plans in Bognor, making significant strides while other areas have put their plans on hold.

He also says there are a number of exciting projects currently at a crucial stage of development.

I wonder if he would be kind enough to explain, especially as we see our once-proud and lovely town going down and down.

Also St Modwen has been allowed to put their plans on hold, so where are these significant strides?

My second item is concerning the Task Force. They have done magnificent work since 2006 and surely our wealthy Conservative councillors could dip their hands

into their pockets to start a fund to keep them going?

As a life-long Conservative voter, I shall now not vote for Tories on ADC again.

A Bennett, Old Rectory Gardens, Felpham

Don't be a fool '“ use proper cycleway

At considerable expense, various councils have provided cycleways alongside the A259 on Felpham Way and between Bersted and Chichester.

I have cycled these tracks myself and they are perfectly adequate and safe.

However, it is becoming common for cyclists to ignore these special lanes/paths and dice with death on this busy main road.

Not only is this a danger to the cyclists, it is frustrating and alarming for motorists who must often take avoiding action because of these idiots.

The arrogance and stupidity of these fools is beyond belief; why do they think society has gone to the expense and trouble to provide these safe cycleways?

If I drove my car on a cycleway all hell would break loose and if, as a pedestrian, I wander in to the road I can be charged by the police with jaywalking.

Why then are these cyclists allowed to flout the ways provided for them in this way?

Perhaps the police should stop a few and make them use the proper path.

R Simmons, Flansham Park, Bognor Regis

I recently bought a Highway Code to update on current rules and regulations. It quite clearly states cyclists must not ride on the pavement and that a 500 fine could be enforced.

It is extremely annoying that so many cyclists ignore the above and that dog walkers and other pedestrians are frequently in danger of injury or abuse.

At one time the community police used to apprehend cyclists '“ have they given up?

It seems we are missing out on a substantial form of justifiable revenue each year!

It is unfair that motorists are a constant target for fines and penalties. Cyclists appear to be a law unto themselves.

Stefanie Bacon, Caledonian Road, Chichester

Clamp down on people who drink in public

At last the police have responded to the endless complaints made by residents of Steyne Street about the shocking and anti-social behaviour of large groups of men in the sunken gardens opposite their flats.

Let's hope the area will be regularly policed now to eliminate the problem.

But it's not just this area that is plagued by people like this.

When the summer season was in full swing and the town attracted more visitors, the police needed to deal with other hot-spot areas such as the shelters on the promenade and Hotham Park.

Last week my husband and I walked along the beach and through Hotham Park. We were shocked to see so many people heading into the park armed with shopping bags full of alcohol.

Once in the park it was very intimidating as, on two occasions, we had to endure men openly urinating on the lawn.

Youths had managed to get to the floating island on the lake and were drinking and throwing their cans in the water.

They saw us looking at them as we walked past and we were subjected to verbal abuse, albeit in a foreign language.

Another group of men, women and children were sitting around a fire in the newly-opened area of the park with no consideration to others.

I must say, we felt like the odd ones out on our evening walk and we certainly won't be going back into the park on a weekend evening.

To top it all, another man lay unconscious, presumably from all the cans littered around him in the shelter outside the park gates in London Road coach park (right behind the police station).

Drinking in public certainly does not apply in Bognor except when the decent people of this town try to put on a fabulous weekend of music, namely the Rox. Then you see enough police to control an event the size of Glastonbury.

Unless these issues are addressed very soon, Bognor will become more of a ghost town as it goes into decline.

Mrs L Johnson, Steyne Street, Bognor Regis

Car-park charges may create new problems

I went to the public meeting in the Leconfield Hall in Petworth about the introduction of parking charges. I felt one important aspect was overlooked.

Chichester District Council thinks Petworth and other small towns with rural car parks should be 'brought into line' with Chichester.

It fails to take into account the unique character of these places.

I have lived in Petworth for 30 years and know it is a small, close-knit community in a way Chichester is not.

The town has an unhurried, civilised atmosphere '“ where people have time to stop and talk in the streets and squares. There is no pressure to rush back to the car

park at risk of ticket, clamp or removal, to be confronted by officious, uniformed officers.

Petworth still has the feeling the town belongs to its own inhabitants. The introduction of parking charges will change this. Once gone, it cannot be retrieved.

Car-park charges also may create a problem where none now exists. They will upset the delicate balance of free car parking which the town now enjoys.

If charging is introduced, the free spaces in the town will be filled up in the early morning with people who drive in to Petworth to work.

A scramble will take place for these spaces which later in the day will confine others to the car park. This will have a negative effect on the many businesses, particularly antique shops, which benefit from customers being able to pull up outside them. Putting a large object into a vehicle can take a few minutes.

As most of the town's streets are one lane wide, if all the parking spaces are taken, congestion will result from cars stopping to load.

Secondly, charging for the car park could be the thin end of the wedge. Bureaucracies have a tendency to expand for their own benefit.

This may take the form of a rise in parking prices from the levels initially proposed. It might also take the form of a gradual takeover of the town by parking charges, particularly if the unintended consequences just described were to come about.

Caroline Egremont, Petworth House, Petworth

Absolutely no to any parking charges, parking wardens or community 'officers' and busybodies!

Midhurst and Petworth are struggling enough, without this added burden.

Those of us who live some distance from either town '“ but nearest for any shopping/post office etc '“ will be severely penalised too, not only financially but by the increased bureaucracy and restrictive thinking.

Sue Loughnan, Lodsworth

After reading Mr Over's comments. about not being a public servant, he must be one of the 'I know better than you' council officers who now populate our town halls.

Of course this type of outrageous arrogance emanates directly from the type of New Labour bile that really does threaten the now uneasy peace between those in private industry, and those in public life.

Steve Atkinson, Cumbria

Paul Over, Chichester District Council director of employment and prosperity, faced a packed and somewhat hostile audience in the Leconfield Hall to present the council's charging proposals for rural car parks, of which there are nine, all at present free.

The council faces a funding gap of 3m because to the recession, because of lower receipts, lower return on investments and a lower government grant.

Each service area is attempting to find efficiency savings. We were told the car parks section is asked to make savings of 250,000 '“ 100,000 by increasing charges in Chichester and 150,000 by imposing them for the first time in the rural car parks.

It is disingenuous to call this a saving rather than an increase in profits as parking charges currently generate a surplus income of almost 2m a year.

Mr Over conceded there have been three frequently expressed concerns over the introduction of parking charges. The first is the potential damage to the local economy.

The British Property Federation has said small towns have been 'sidelined' in recent years. The Local Data Company said about 12,000 independent shops have closed so far this year in England and Wales. The Commission for Rural Communities claimed market towns are being hit disproportionately by the recession. The British Retail Consortium has warned many such communities are close to the 'tipping point' from which they may never recover.

CDC claims the introduction of charges will be beneficial as a way of 'managing demand' by creating a 'good turnover of spaces', 'encouraging local workers to walk or cycle' and thereby 'attract shoppers who couldn't previously find a space'.

This argument is flawed in relation to Petworth as, except on very rare occasions, there is surplus capacity.

The expectation a charge would bring fewer people staying for a shorter time is virtually guaranteed to damage trade, as it is fanciful to assume this could be achieved by encouraging walking and cycling.

The second concern is displacement of locals from the car parks to on-street parking. The proposed annual charge of 120 for those who keep their cars in the car park equates to an increase in council tax of more than eight per cent for a band D householder and will almost certainly be widely resisted.

There is already pressure on available spaces in residential streets near the town centre and this will be very harmful to community relations.

Thirdly that this is the thin end of the wedge and once the principle of charging has been accepted, the initial modest charges will be raised.

We have Mr Over's assurance rises would be proportionate and such as to leave us in a competitive position with charges in nearby towns.

But looking at the projected income and expenditure figures supplied by Mike Lewin, parking services manager, to Petworth Town Council, it appears that after the expense of implementing the scheme is taken into account, the savings (additional income) will only be about equivalent to the current cost of 93,000 for all the rural car parks '“ already a considerable shortfall on the 150,000 allegedly needed.

Add the possibility of costs escalating, as costs are apt to do, a lower than expected income, and the proposed charges could swiftly escalate.

Whereas car parks made a healthy profit last year, the culture and sport portfolio cost council taxpayers over 5. Of this, 649,500 went in subsidies to Pallant House Gallery and Chichester Festival Theatre and over 1m to the Westgate Centre.

I am not against supporting the arts and sports facilities but these amenities are not so easily accessible to Petworth residents and hugely costly to local taxpayers in comparison with the 24,000 it would cost them to allow us to keep free parking, which they would all be very welcome to come and use.

A central plank of the CDC argument for charging in rural car parks is users should pay the costs, a principle that apparently doesn't apply in other areas.

All in all it looks very much as if local government, like central government, sees the motorist as an easy target.

Juliet Fynes, High Street, Petworth

In France, you cannot open a supermarket within the region of a village or town unless the services to be offered are not currently offered within the established town

or village.

This is why they still have their towns and villages. Planning decisions in the UK have always worked against the community in this regard, rubber-stamping supermarket openings with, automatically, space and facility for free parking.

And no, planning authorities do not have to agree to free parking on site for new supermarkets. How many localities can you think of where the local provision has deteriorated as this happens?

Petworth IS unique. The car parking is actually adequate. How many times have you never been able to park? Very few indeed of the residential homes in Petworth have garaging, or front gardens for off-road parking, and the narrow roads don't facilitate parking in the road.

'Parking' is not simply a technical activity. Change the word 'parking' for 'a place to stop for a while while I/we do things'.

'Stopping for a while' is a very significant underpinning and function of the exchanges within a community. It is not merely a means to an end '“ obtaining goods and services etc.

It is the way of exchange of a vital network between every individual member and every sub-grouping which, of necessity, must travel by some vehicle (including public transport, where it exists). Take away the ability to 'stop for a while' in almost any context, and you destroy community.

Louise Prince, Petworth

... but perhaps fees will help us attract more visitors to our town

The report in last week's Observer regarding the proposed parking charges in Petworth did not include some important comments I made during the evening.

These issues were important, not because I made them, but because they were informed by consultation.

Firstly, I referred to the Petworth Action Plan, produced after two years or so of the consultation, which was part of the Petworth 'healthcheck' consultation.

This was adopted by Petworth Parish Council in May 2006. Action 21, relating to the parking problems, says: Work with relevant groups to develop solutions including segregation of long- and short-term parking in car parks.

I also referred to two papers, the first of which, part of the healthcheck process, is dated April 2005 and entitled The Two 'Ps '“ Petworth and Parking' '“ this, among many other things, called for the introduction of parking charges. This was to ensure long-term parking does not block the valuable parking spaces nearest to the town centre.

The traders in the town do, of course, need to realise they are among the worst offenders in this regard, and are shooting themselves in the foot in the process.

The other paper is the notes from two meetings held in June 2005 to discuss the first paper. The feeling of both meetings was charging in the car park would be a way of enforcing the need for dividing short- and long-term spaces. There was also a call for concessions for residents.

The current proposals for parking charges do nothing to ensure this requirement and should therefore be resisted. However, it could be adapted to reach this objective.

Much was said at the meeting about negative impact of parking charges on the economy of the town. I would suggest that without action and a clear division between short- and long-term parking, the town's economy will suffer as visitors, as well as more local potential costumers, will avoid the town.

Tony Sneller, chairman, Petworth Enterprise Partnership, North Street, Petworth

To the point...

How on earth can this great city of Chichester bid to become a city of culture, with the archaic railway crossings in the centre, which already prevent the flow of normal road traffic?

Would it be possible for someone on the council, county council, House of Commons or anyone else, care to write to the Observer so everyone might know when improvements will take place, such as tunnels for the traffic, this year, next year, or sometime never?

John Hinton, Stumps End, Bosham

With more than 6,700 people on the Chichester district housing list, this is not the time to waste money trying to secure culture status for Chichester.

The county and district councils already pour many thousands of pounds in to the Pallant Gallery and the Festival Theatre with little hope of them ever being able to stand on their own.

What is needed is more house building to solve the crisis and provide much-needed work for the many building workers currently out of work in the Chichester area.

Robin Stone, Malcolm Road, Tangmere

Do any readers remember visiting the hut at the entrance to Kingley Vale Nature Reserve when exhibits included a changing collection of dead animals? My children were fascinated by these as well as the green papier mache model of the reserve.

On visiting the huts in recent years with my grandchildren, I have been disappointed by the colourful but rather bland exhibits of educational posters.

So much for progress.

On our last visit we saw the hut had been cleared, presumably ready for a facelift. Is there any chance that the dead animals might make a comeback?

Deborah Jackson, Croft Mead, Chichester

It is to be hoped the new development at Graylingwell will include the burning of all the waste material in modern low carbon emission incinerators to produce energy for this new village '“ similar to that already in use in East Hampshire.

Mrs A Bromley-Martin, Tuffs Hard, Bosham Hoe

A casual visitor to Bishop Otter College would have been puzzled by the people gathering at the concert hall. What could have brought together this motley collection of students, hippies, local musicians, choristers, academics and assorted head bangers?

To those in the know, it can only have meant one thing '“ Nigel Rippon was in town.

As part of the university's music degree ceremony, Nigel augmented his band Stone Cold with assorted strings, winds and a choir.

The large crowd had gathered to say thanks to multi-instrumentalist Nigel for his marvellous contribution to music in our area over the past 20 years.

Paul Randall, Stirling Road, Chichester

We wish to add our voice to those who oppose the extension of hours at Tesco.

One part of the argument offered by Tesco is the wish to seek 'operational efficiencies': that can only mean 24-hour deliveries, staff coming and going across 24 hours, and hence a general deterioration in the ambient quality of life for those living near (or, in our case, not so near, but still aware of traffic to and from the store).

Kay Foster & Paul Foster, Beech Avenue, Chichester

May I express the thanks of the Chichester and District Branch of the United Nations Association to the people of Arundel and Chichester, who generously gave a total of 1,075 to UNICEF and UNA/UK in two street collections this summer.

Derek Wales, branch treasurer UNA/UK, Melbourne Road, Chichester

I pass on my sincere thanks to Mr Berkley and his grandson of Cedar Drive, Chichester, who helped me considerably this week. Upon finding my wallet, Mr Berkley used my business card to telephone me and arrange a time and place where I could collect it from him. Everything was intact and I remain most grateful to him for his actions.

A Harris, Weston Lane, Funtingon

The street collection held on behalf of the Chichester and Bognor Regis branch of the MS Society raised a fantastic 796.80. We are extremely grateful to all those concerned and to the shoppers for their generosity, despite the weather conditions.

Caroline Lister, committee member, Multiple Sclerosis Society, Main Road, Bosham

We have just returned from a weekend in Bognor, during which time we visited a cafe in Felpham.

The Lobster Pot Cafe on the seafront provided us (a group of 13 cyclists) with much-needed cups of tea and beautiful home-made cakes at the end of our 48-mile cycle ride.

There was an evening menu on the board and on enquiring, the cafe was able to take an evening booking.

They set the tables up for us, allowed us to bring our own alcoholic drinks, provided excellent home-cooked dishes, well presented, at a reasonable price and, above all, provided it all with charming, friendly, good-humoured service.

They even went out especially to buy strawberries for 'pudding' responding to a special request for two or three of our group. It was a lovely evening.

Gen Marsh, Waltham Wobblers Cycling Group

How refreshing it is to stroll along the Felpham promenade and come across The Lobster Pot. More often than not it is packed and the only remaining seating

is on the sea wall. So I welcome the spread of seating into Fisherman's Garden.

The Lobster Pot is a delightful, privately-run cafe that is successful. For heaven's sake let's encourage it, not stifle it.

John Peachey, Deepdene Close, Elmer

Keith Newbery in the Observer Magazine says racists, 'however repellent their views', should have the right to express them in public '“ and what's more, on national television.

I disagree.

Racism has no place in a decent, civilised society. Those who hold such views should have no freedom to express racist beliefs in public (indeed, it is against the law to do so) let alone on national television.

Let us not forget it was degenerate racists and their obnoxious beliefs '“ which they were allowed to express freely in public '“ that led to the Nazi gas chambers.

I, for one, will not 'defend to the last their right to say it'.

D Glossop, Scott Street, Bognor Regis

I am writing on behalf of the chairman of Felpham Parish Council, Paul English, and all the councillors to say how much they have all appreciated the outstanding commitment, fairness, professionalism and dedication shown by Kevin Smith when he reported on any aspect of news.

It is sad that he has left the Bognor Regis Observer, and all the council send all good wishes for his future.

Richard Wickens, clerk to the council, Felpham Parish Council, Grassmere Close, Felpham

We held a party to celebrate our grandson's first birthday, along with other invited families, mostly with toddlers aged between one and two years.

We placed our blankets on the ground by the boating lake when we realised one adult member had walked in dog faeces and was unwittingly spreading it around.

It wasn't until someone mentioned the smell we realised what had happened.

You can therefore imagine the consequences if the toddlers has come into contact with some of this mess.

We were given to understand the new bye-law was not coming into effect until November 2. There is dog's mess on some of the paths as well as the park itself, and some of the owners are not only happy to leave the mess where deposited, but happy for their animals to chase the park's wildlife.

We feel we do not wish to visit Hotham Park for the foreseeable future. Can we not now see overturned this bye-law allowing dogs to run free?

David and Gaye Dunford, Flansham Park

The decision of the West Sussex Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education '“ SACRE '“ to commend form assemblies as well as larger assemblies for collective worship in the county's schools is to be welcomed.

As the SACRE's revised advice makes clear, all such assemblies provide a major contribution towards pupils' moral and spiritual development, 'fostering a concern for others and providing a forum for exploring shared values... building community in and beyond the school... and contributing more generally to a positive school ethos'.

In addition to academic achievement, the development of character and teaching the difference between right and wrong are of equal importance in all our non-church schools as well as faith schools.

Rev John Brown, Manor Way, Middleton-on-Sea

If Sebastian Anstrunther's massacre on Duncton Hill is 'proper environmental management' as he stated, I can only suggest he refrains from carrying out any further work anywhere on the South Downs.

In my opinion, to say they were posing a danger to road users will be of little significance once the snow starts to fall this winter. The canopy gave natural protection to drivers travelling up and down the hill, which the snow could not settle on.

Paul Falkner, Duncton

Has any other reader noticed the subtle change in the advertisement for the Goodwood Revival?

The picture in the edition of September 3 revealed a tantalising glimpse of white knickers, whereas in the two subsequent editions of the Observer there is a subtle lengthening of the hemline to conceal the offending item.

What happened? Did someone complain?

Peter Clark, St Johns Close, Midhurst

The editor replies: No complaints were received by the Observer from our readers '“ you're obviously a very liberal lot. Readers of some other publications which carried the advert seemed to have been offended, so the artwork was amended by Goodwood.

What do you think? Send a letter to [email protected] or leave a comment below.

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