READERS’ LETTERS March 3

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Readers’ letters from the March 3 issue of the Observer.

I NEVER thought I would be the recipient of a penalty notice for ‘Trespass at Chichester Crossing’ but that is exactly what happened to me one morning when walking into Chichester from Stockbridge Road.

Just as I reached the station crossing (I was one or two steps away at most) I saw and heard the amber warning lights begin but as I was walking very fast anyway I continued and crossed easily and safely long before the red lights began and the gates started to come down.

Unfortunately, it happened to be the day of a safety operation and I was stopped by two British Transport Police officers.

As I was totally unaware of doing anything wrong I naively thought they were perhaps going to ask me something.

But, no, I had apparently committed an offence.

Now I know the Highway Code says ‘You MUST NOT cross or pass the stop line when the red lights show’. However, does anyone ever tell us that we must not walk across if the lights and alarm have literally just commenced?

I have lived in Chichester for 35 years and have never, ever heard of anyone receiving such a penalty (or even a warning) and had no idea it could be considered an offence.

Although, how one can actually trespass on a public road at a public crossing I am not quite sure.

I realise there are foolhardy people who do dangerously ‘jump’ the lights (both on foot or in a car) and, yes, that behaviour needs stopping.

The transport police have an important job to do but I consider the officer to have been totally over-zealous.

Surely, a verbal reprimand would have been far more appropriate on this occasion?

Instead, he insisted on issuing the penalty notice which carries a fine of £50 and sent me away feeling like a criminal for the first time in my life.

I would like to warn all fellow pedestrians in Chichester of the hidden and costly dangers when walking over our railway crossings.

Helen Bradley (A bemused, indignant and law-abiding senior citizen), Chichester

AFTER READING Mr Luff’s letter in the Chichester Observer of February 24, I can assure him that he is not alone in his comments describing the new Chichester Museum in Tower Street.

I too have likened it to the Tricorn Centre, as it bears a strong resemblance in construction to that particular monstrosity.

Other people I have spoken to also agree with that comment.

Surely at a cost of £6m something more in keeping with Chichester could have been designed? What is wrong with beautiful red bricks?

After all, someone only has to paint their property in a colour not considered suitable by the powers-that-be, and it has to be changed for one that is considered to be more suitable, and yet this pile of concrete was obviously approved wholeheartedly.

The new Travelodge in Chapel Street is more aesthetically-pleasing to the eye than the concrete monolith around the corner.

It is quite upsetting to look across from the museum and to see the magnificent spire of our beautiful Chichester Cathedral overshadowed by this blot on the landscape.

What is happening to our once lovely city?

What with Pallant House Gallery, and now this. The heart of Chichester City must be weeping at these acts of vandalism!

Vivian Robinson, School Lane, Bosham

THE RECENT full-page feature in the Observer on Bishop Luffa School revealed a wealth of activity and achievement among its pupils.

Interestingly, there was no mention of its entry criteria.

As most local people are aware, Bishop Luffa is a ‘faith’ school which requires regular attendance at Christian church services by pupils or parents, or both, before entry is considered (download their admissions policy to see precise details).

This form of selection restricts admission to a very small pool of applicants.

At a generous estimate, the percentage of the population regularly attending any form of Christian religious service is perhaps between five to ten per cent.

This implies that Bishop Luffa places are only available to about ten per cent, perhaps even less, of the local population.

Or, put another way, Bishop Luffa discriminates against over 90 per cent of the local population on religious grounds.

Readers will know that many parents locally are angry and frustrated because the entry criteria guarantee that they have no hope of sending their children to the only mixed school in the area, and many are also uncomfortable with the religious ethos of the school.

A Freedom of Information enquiry reveals that Bishop Luffa school will receive something over £6m from the taxpayer in the financial year 2010-11.

Given this level of financial support from the public purse, and bearing in mind that around 90 per cent of local taxpayers are specifically prevented from using the school, the situation is inequitable.

Successive governments have claimed that ‘faith’ schools increase choice, and are popular with parents.

My experience in Chichester is the exact opposite, in both cases.

The majority of the population are not churchgoers, and resent the fact that their educational choices are compromised as a result.

‘Faith’ schools are ideal for a small minority because they receive large amounts of money from public funds, yet are able to use restrictive entry criteria to isolate themselves from the majority of the population.

Such elitism is detrimental to the choices of the majority and does nothing for social cohesion.

Surely a change of policy is long overdue?

David Dorning, Lavant Road, Chichester

IN RESPONSE to the letter last week regarding the government taking away senior and disabled bus passes, surely this would serve no purpose?

As seniors we are the only people who travel between 10am and 3.30pm – with the exception of some young mothers.

Taking away the pass would ultimately mean that we would not travel regularly during the day, unless absolutely necessary.

The bus pass allows us to frequent cafes and shops within and outside our immediate area, therefore, cafes and shops would suffer greatly everywhere equally from the absence of our senior community.

The average pensioner does not have the finances to purchase the regular bus ticket.

So the bus service would be gaining nothing. 

They would just be left empty buses.

Also consider that fact that no seniors travelling during the day would mean no need for so many buses which would subsequently create a cutback on bus drivers.

No-one would win.

The only other solution is to contribute to a monthly bus pass, at a reasonable cost.

They need to consider that as seniors we do contribute financially to the community.

Take away our pass and that contribution would be drastically reduced.

We have worked all our lives we deserve SOMETHING.

Sally Hastings-Thomas, Caernarvon Road, Chichester

THERE HAS been a lot of coverage recently on West Sussex County Council’s proposals for funding adult social care.

I thought it would be helpful to write and explain why we are putting these proposals forward.

As a county council, we need to reduce expenditure by £79m over the next three years, in order to live within our means.

All county council areas of work are being reviewed.

These proposals would mean West Sussex County Council would no longer provide for moderate level needs – focusing on substantial and critical-level needs only.

This would bring West Sussex in line with more than three quarters of English councils and mean we will continue to provide for our most vulnerable residents.

This proposal for adult social care will lead to £4.3m savings, but we will be providing additional investment for the voluntary sector to help fund community services.

A total of £1m has been earmarked from these and our day services proposals, with recurring investment after that.

No-one’s support will be removed until they have had a full re-assessment by social care staff. There have been concerns that officers will be looking solely to save money in re-assessments, but I want to reassure residents that this will not be the case.

Our priority always has been, and always will be, the needs of the person being evaluated.

This will not change.

There has also been comment that by removing moderate level needs, people would deteriorate and actually cost the council more money.

If there is a risk that someone’s independence and wellbeing would be affected by the removal of services in a short time, then these would be fully assessed before any decision on their support is made.

The impact on carers has also been raised. Carers are entitled to have an assessment of their needs in their own right at any time. We have a separate budget to support breaks for carers.

The county council supports a number of carers services who work with and help carers.

We will continue to invest in preventative services to support people who will not in the future be eligible for social care support.

These include telecare, which provides equipment to help residents, and the Regaining Independence Support Service, which provides intensive support to help people who have perhaps just been discharged from hospital.

The adults’ services select committee examined the proposals and consultation responses at its meeting on Tuesday, March 1.

I will of course be considering their comments, and all of the findings from the consultation, before I make a final decision in March.

Peter Catchpole, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Adults’ Services

I COULD not agree more with Tim Hudson. His comments about the Chichester Museum are spot on.

Chichester is where I was born some seventy-odd years ago.

As a young child and then through my life I have seen many changes.

Some were in the best interests of the local populace, others not so much. I grew up just after the second world war in an era when most everyone knew one another.

People were a lot different then. Everyone had time to talk to each other. The shops were mostly run by Chichester people and service was of paramount importance.

The mid-sixties brought change.

The advent of the Festival Theatre opening was instrumental in bringing new people to the city.

A new young breed who liked what they saw and remembered the peace and quiet of the town as opposed to London, Norwich or Oxford.

Here was a place that they may possibly be able, in future years, to retire to.

With them they brought fresh ideas, like, ‘if I move there now, how quickly will I be able to change this place to look and feel like where I’ve just come from?’

The influx of professional people working in places such as County Hall and East Pallant House enabled them to achieve their dream so that today Chichester looks like ‘High Street, Anywhere’.

It has lost most of its charm and is bedevilled by structures that have no place in the Chichester of my youth.

I very rarely visit my home town even though I live just a mile away.

Last week I did take the opportunity to come into the city where I needed to go to the bank.

I managed to park in the Woolstaplers.

I needed vouchers so I went to the nearest vendor in Crane Street.

To my surprise he had only 40p tickets but suggested that I go to the clinic in Chapel Street.

There were three people at the reception desk who informed me that they sold the vouchers only in £6 booklets.

They were helpful in suggesting that I went to the library. By now, having walked some considerable distance, I was finally able to buy five 20p vouchers.

On leaving the library I was horrified to see a whitish-grey Monolith in front of me where my old school use to be. It is completely out of character with the surrounding area.

Why could not an existing building be used?

The old telephone exchange building is still there and there appears no good reason why it could not be adapted given that part of it is now a hotel.

I understand this museum has cost some millions to build in a time when I, in common with many others, am finding it difficult to manage on a State Pension and Devious Dave is telling us we have to have massive cuts.

WHY?

We have paid for these services already.

There are no pay rises except for fat-cat Bankers and Local Authority top managers. If the country cannot afford it, don’t buy it.

But don’t, please don’t, ask us to pay for it.

Finally, having been to the city and taking in its ugliness, I think it will be a long time before I go there again.

Les Cohen (true Cicestrian), Chichester

FOLLOWING the letter from the ‘ten heads’ I felt moved to write but did not.

However, following M.Ayling’s letter in last week’s Observer (February 24) I now add my thoughts,

I took the very last Higher School Certificate in 1950 in maths and physics and have felt that education has gone down hill ever since with more subjects studied which could not possibly be studied in the depth of a few.

The ‘ten heads’ are all products of this downhill system so are hardly in a position to see a very broad picture of education in the past sixty or seventy years.

I did not go to university, not many did in my time.

I joined a five-year electrical student apprenticeship with one of the major radio and TV manufacturers studying for Higher National Certificate followed by further studies (Endorsements).

I was fully trained for my final position as a radio designer knowing all the aspects of production having worked in all the production departments during my five years.

Later we were taking on degree engineers who had all the theoretical knowledge but no practical experience.

I well remember one who I was mentoring who could not even use a screwdriver properly!

A case of the developing modern education.

After twenty years in engineering I changed horses and trained for ordination into the Church of England.

I found theological studies totally different to my engineering experience.

It seemed that it was a case of reading books, soaking up the information and then spewing it out into essays.

This involved no reasoning – simply an ability to remember facts.

No wonder I found the practical pastoral side of priesthood more satisfying than preaching!

One of the schools represented by the ‘Ten’ calls itself a ‘College of Technology’ but was proud of its new drama building.

I would have expected a new laboratory/workshop building.

Again, a prime example of how modern education has lost its way!

I now wait with bated breath to be shot down in subsequent editions of the Observer.

John Collins MIET, Revd, Exeter Road, Chichester

DO ANY readers know of anyone who may want to part with this year’s Alexandra Bastedo Fan Club calendar, in an unused condition?

If yes, I will pay a fair price, plus forward a donation to the Champion Animal Sanctuary.

P Thompson, 39 Summer Close, Runcorn, Cheshire WA7 2HJ

REGARDING capping the number of taxis in Chichester; our view is still the same as before 1985, that there should be a choice of what kind of vehicle a plate holder can use as a licensed taxi, thus ensuring that any Chichester based garage pre-1985 could bid to supply licensed taxis to the Chichester taxi trade.

If the council does decide to cap the number of taxis it may well bring it into dispute with the Competition Commission as such an act may be viewed as a restricted practice by this organisation.

PJ Dunnaway, Dunnaway’s Taxis, Chichester

I SHOULD like to express my grateful thanks to the kind gentleman who helped me to my feet after I tripped on the flagstones outside Evans shop in North Street, Chichester, on the evening of Wednesday, February 16.

Also thanks to the young manageress of Evans, who found me somewhere to sit and a cold pack to put on my knee, until I could walk again. At the time, I was too dazed to notice them, but I shall always remember their kindness.

It is a most unpleasant experience and I do hope something will be done to level off these paving stones, before someone is badly hurt.

Carmen Janes (Mrs), Farm Corner, Middleton-on-Sea

WITH reference to James Ayling’s letter in the Observer on February 17, I wonder where he acquired his knowledge of the ‘strong possibility’ of our free bus passes being reduced by the government?

As a senior citizen myself, I travel to Chichester on the Selsey/Chichester Link Route two or three times a week, and therefore would not be too happy to pay £1 or £2 a trip.

After all, we were given these bus passes to help us – especially in rural communities.

Surely a better idea to save money would be to make the bus times between 10am to 2pm from Monday to Friday, every 30 minutes instead of every 15 minutes as they are now?

Many times I have seen these buses almost empty between these hours.

P Tapping (Mrs), Southover Way, Hunston

WHAT A revolting place Bognor has become.

The roads around the town centre, Longford Road, outside the Picturedrome cinema and many more, are disgraceful, with large holes everywhere.

The horrible looking Regis Centre is the worst building I have ever seen.

Whatever has happened to Bognor?

It used to be a such a lovely town in the 50s and 60s.

It would appear that since Arun Council came to power, Littlehampton, the seat of the said council, has come on in leaps and bounds, and Bognor has been left on the shelf.

There are many cases of cycling on the pavement and on the Esplanade and no one ever seems to be brought to book.

No-one seems to care any more.

It would also appear that you can park on double yellow lines and loading only bays in the High Street without getting booked.

Who would want to come to Bognor on holiday?

Butlins maybe, but not Bognor itself.

It is a town that has been left to die.

AL Miles, Westmeads

MAY I, through your newspaper, publicly thank our MP Nick Gibb for helping me in what to most people would be classed as a trivial matter?

The brief facts are that I was overcharged on the railway. I sent the appropriate form, ticket and senior rail card to the Southern Railway office at Tonbridge.

They sent me vouchers for the amount that I was overcharged but did not return my rail card.

This was at the beginning of October, 2010.

Three months later, after four letters, and at least a dozen phone calls, I still had not received the card or replacement.

They kept promising a new card and even gave a couple of specific dates on which I should receive it, but nothing arrived.

Perhaps they thought I would fade away – I am 85.

Knowing that Nick Gibb is a busy MP, I reluctantly wrote to him, and in a couple of days had a reply, and in two weeks an apology by phone, and a form and vouchers for a new card from Southern Railway.

AJ Marsh, Chawkmare Coppice, Aldwick

WHILE SOME Labour Party members in Chichester may object to the comments by Duncan Barkes regarding Ed Miliband’s attitudes and actions (or perceived inactions) concerning his paternal responsibilities, they might perhaps do better to ponder over Big Ed’s support and silence, while Messrs Tony Bliar and Gordon Brown merrily mismanaged the finances of this nation over so many years, while so many workers, lots of whom had voted Labour, lost their jobs and were flung on to the scrap heaps of redundancy unemployment, when firms were closed or sold off to companies abroad under ‘New’ Labour.

Our ‘New’ Labour masters buried their heads in the sand, or looked the other way, while pouring public money into many useless projects.

I didn’t hear Mightymouth Miliband raising his voice objecting at the time to Cadbury or Rover companies, being sold out of British control under ‘New’ Labour’s government and part of ‘New’ Labour’s legacy includes many working people whose jobs may be taken by people from other countries, thanks to that party’s farcical failures over past years to challenge the numerous problems caused by immigration, both illegal and otherwise.

In short, many trades unionists, of which I happen to be one, will have cause to rue the day when ‘New’ Labour came into office all those years ago, as we count the cost of jobs lost and public services slashed, whilst our so-called ‘socialist’ masters built up their own portfolios and feathered their own nests.

Edward Miliband’s silence over the number of homes owned by Grandmaster Blair is deafening and I wonder why he helped to underpin and support such rotten regime, which eroded our country for so long and which bears no resemblance to what was once a caring party?

Lomond Handley, Haslemere, Surrey