Readers’ Letters December 9

Readers’ letters from the December 9 issue of the Observer.

I READ in one of your articles that the city council was short of approximately £10,000 to be able to put up the Christmas lights this year.

I had an idea of a way to make the necessary money, though whether the idea is practical or not I am not sure.

As a former student of Chichester High School for Boys I figured that there are approximately 5,000 students in CHSB, CHSG and Bishop Luffa combined alone.

Several times a year nearly every school has non-school uniform days, where students come in there own clothes and usually pay £1.

The schools are free to do this whenever they feel as far as I know, so it would be no trouble at all for them to throw in an extra one.

If the proceeds go towards the Christmas lights there is £5,000 instantly for only three high schools.

If you take into account the number of elementary schools and (possibly) Chichester College, it could easily fetch £6,000 or even more.

If there were two non-school uniform days the necessary money is guaranteed.

Students are always willing to pay for non-school uniform days and many are disheartened about the Christmas lights, so would feel extra incentive.

I see no reason for the schools to refuse as I doubt they can turn down the positive publicity and, as previously mentioned, they are free to do this whenever so would not be losing any money.

The students would be all for it as well as there its not an uncommon event for them and individually would cost very little.

If the council was to accept it would have a solution instantly.

I do not know whether it is too late for the decorations to be put up now or even how to go about proposing this plan to the council (it’s not likely they would listen to an 18-year-old anyway) so I trust you will be able to help, even if just a small bit as there is nothing to be lost and everything to be gained with this proposal.

Kez Steel, Chichester

TO THE mayor of Chichester re Christmas lights: I just want you to know that I and my husband have decided that as Chichester is not having Christmas lights this year we will do our shopping in Brighton.

It is such a shame and we really like Chichester, it is a lovely place to come and surely not having Christmas lights is the wrong decision?

If you change your mind we’ll come over from Rustington where we live for a meal/drink.

Merry Christmas.

Suzanna and Alan McGregor, Rustington

CHICHESTER District Council spends millions of pounds on numerous CCTV cameras and surveillance in Chichester city centre and yet when it come to Christmas cannot afford a few thousand pounds to put up Christmas lights and decorations.

I watched with dismay the BBC South Today report showing the switching on of the lights at Salisbury and thought of the Chichester lights lying in storage, which they also reported.

Usually they add to the spirit of Christmas with the tree, carol singing, mulled wine and roast chestnuts, which creates a good festive family atmosphere and brings people together.

This is a great attraction not only for the people of Chichester but also to all the people from surrounding areas especially on dark cold winter evenings.

It is also good for the traders and shopkeepers who all make a great effort with their excellent shop window displays.

A few years ago I worked for the council litter picking and tidying up in the city centre and despite there being CCTV cameras everywhere they also insisted that I carried a satellite tracking device.

The device continuously monitored and recorded my everyday movements around Chichester city centre.

It was an expensive system operated by the American military and the information was displayed and recorded on computers from Chichester to Colorado!

Usually this kind of tracking and monitoring is only justified in extremely hazardous situations such as nuclear power stations.

How much was it costing the council that now cannot afford to put up their Christmas lights to satellite track a litter picker working in a relatively safe environment?

A colourfully lit-up town centre brings festive cheer to the visitors and must also increase sales in the shops, so I do not know the council’s official reason for acting like Scrooge.

I can only think that they might claim that it was for health and safety – a light bulb might fall on someone’s head or perhaps it’s because the lights and decorations block the view of the CCTV cameras.

I hope it has not also banned the musicians and entertainers who also used to animate Chichester by playing Christmas songs and carols.

I think that the good people of Chichester should be aware and know about what is happening in their city which is becoming more Big Brother with less of a traditional festive atmosphere.

Michael Wiseman, Felpham

LAST WEEK I told of the recent meeting of Sidlesham council where the chairman refused to allow public discussion about an item that, with his approval, was on the agenda.

I thought that was about the limit of the council’s isolation policy but I was wrong.

In September I had myself made a formal complaint to the council about the management of parish property.

The chairman followed the council’s rules and appointed a panel of three councillors to consider it, which, perfectly properly, he chaired.

I disagreed with the panel’s conclusions so I entered a formal appeal.

As required by the rules the chairman named an appeal panel, which he could not be on, with another councillor in the chair.

When I received the appeal panel’s decision last week it was clear that they had misunderstood some of my points and, presumably through oversight, not addressed others.

I didn’t want to make heavy weather of it by running to the ombudsman so I wrote to the chair of the panel hoping to clarify the misunderstandings.

Also, as the season of goodwill approaches, I suggested the panel might like to call in to Island Cottage for a mince pie and an informal chat; after all, we all have the interests of the parish at heart, don’t we?

But last Sunday, the council chairman heard of my approach and hurriedly delivered a letter to me by hand in which he wrote that the correspondence on the matters was concluded and that neither the council nor the chair of the appeal panel would be responding.

The chairman himself, not the chair of the independent appeal panel, was blocking any clarification or discussion of my appeal, formal or informal.

Has he the power to do that I wonder?

Presumably the appeal panel has also been forbidden to accept my hospitality.

What does the chairman fear?

That I would influence the panel by bribing them with mince pies?

I didn’t want to make all this public but it’s no good replying to the chairman; he’s already said in advance that he will ignore letters from me.

Last week councillors were not allowed to discuss council business in public.

Now they may not discuss it with a parishioner in private.

Where will it all end?

Perhaps, for me, in Sidlesham Salt Mines.

Paul Albrecht, Mill Lane, Sidlesham

WHILE PERHAPS making entertaining reading, we are concerned that your readers may start to believe the opinions expressed by Mr Albrecht in the Observer of November 25 in relation to what takes place during Sidlesham Parish Council meetings and the general running of the parish.

By way of an explanation, Mr Albrecht spends much of his time engaging with parishioners on subjects of concern to him.

In addition to letters published in the Chichester Observer we, and fellow parishioners on his mailing list, are regularly reminded of his disapproval of certain members of the council and his frustration at the speed of progress of his personal agenda.

In one month alone, earlier this year, the council received more than 30 items of correspondence from him.

There have been many more since.

His current raison d’être, the road safety issue that was apparently ‘kicked into the long grass’, was actually explained and discussed at some length, and to its logical conclusion, by parish councillors, members of the public and County Councillor Margaret Whitehead.

Mr Albrecht refers to Councillor Pound’s supportive intervention, in which she likened the running of the council to that of Burma – an unfortunate misrepresentation, as she is well aware of the rules governing our complaints procedure, established under the guidance of SALC (the Sussex Association of Local Councils), whereby a complaint cannot be discussed publicly while still being investigated by the council, and which the chairman was following to the letter at the time.

We would like to reassure your readers that in Sidlesham this year alone we have raised the funds for, and built a very popular new playground and are delighted to have been active in negotiating the building of five new affordable homes for local people.

These and other projects are made possible by the dedication and extremely long hours put in by members of the council and many others from the community.

It would be a great shame if all this positive work were to be stifled by a small but vocal minority.

Finally, the parish council meeting to which Mr Albrecht refers was recorded electronically by the clerk.

For those more interested in the facts, rather than Mr Albrecht’s interpretation of them, the draft Minutes of the Council Meeting are available on the parish council’s website

There are nine members of our parish council; the undersigned are united in their condemnation at the unfortunate way in which our clerk, chairman, and other hard-working volunteer members are being portrayed both within our parish and to the wider community.

Christopher Bond, Colin Field, Adrian Harland, Debbie Kennedy, Alastair Malir, Carole Ranjbar, Elizabeth Smart, Tricia Tull, Sidlesham

IN REPLY to R H Hemblade who asks ‘What is wrong with Bosham?’

On Thursday, November 11, a large group of villagers gathered on the meadow at the War Memorial for a short service (led by Mrs Jan Emerson) to remember our war dead.

All the names were read out in what has become a poignant and traditional service.

A few hymns were sung and the Lord’s Prayer was read out.

Many village organisations were represented and laid traditional poppy wreaths.

The weather is irrelevant – these gentlemen died in our name.

Jonathan Fulford, Bosham

I WAS surprised and saddened to read Mr Hemblade’s letter in which he implied that Bosham people do not care to attend a Service at their War Memorial.

If he had come to Quay Meadow at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the actual day and time of Remembrance, he would have joined a goodly crowd – standing in the wind and rain – all paying their respects.

On Remembrance Sunday, November 14, the service was held in our packed church.

Maggie Pollock, Bosham

MANY THANKS to Chichester District Council’s binmen and ladies who worked over the last weekend catching up on the waste collection in Fishbourne and other parishes in the District.

Well done.

Julian Snell, Fishbourne Parish Council

THE HIGHWAYS agency has had such a bad press of late, due to the gritting of roads, and so I would hope that it wants to make a good impression on members of the public,

So I was most upset, when, in Bracklesham Bay on Thursday last week, when seeing a gritting vehicle, we waved and cheered, only to be greeted by a single middle finger in the air directed at us by the driver!

No wonder we have no faith any more.

A Casey, Bracklesham Bay

I WOULD like to thank all those who voted for Roger Gibson who won the Observer Community Awards’ Biggest Contribution to the Arts in the Community on Sunday at the Chichester Festival Theatre.

Roger is the long-serving artistic director of the Chichester Cinema at New Park and started the cinema from scratch more than 30 years ago, some 50,000 people a year now taking advantage of his remarkable programming at the only independent cinema in Chichester.

It is timely as next year’s film festival will be our 20th which will now be doubly celebrated in style thanks to the award.

As Mae West was fond of saying ‘Come up and see me sometime!’

Congratulations to all those who took part and to those who organised the Community Awards and to the winners in other categories.

Carol Godsmark, Press and Marketing Officer, Chichester Cinema at New Park

MOST OF the recent national newspaper publicity surrounding football has been about the less attractive aspects of the game on a global scale.

However, perhaps on a more local scale it should consider cleaning up its act as well.

Cycling through West Wittering with my wife recently we noticed a football match being played on the sports field and went over to watch. There were about 20/30 spectators – including a number of young children.

The football was good, fast and physical, but after about five minutes we decided to leave.

It was difficult to decide if the game was about scoring goals, or a competition to see which side could swear the loudest – the ‘F’ word being dominant.

The world football governing body FIFA contains the letter ‘F’ twice.

No doubt in most English football clubs it now has a third.

John Carnegie, West Wittering

THERE are many fine things at Lavant but not, I am sure, an airfield capable of accommodating B-24 Liberator bombers during the second world war.

Brian O’Gorman, in his letter of last week, was quite correct in questioning the location of the airfield from which the unfortunate plane had flown.

It was of course Lavenham in Suffolk, and not Lavant in Sussex, as is made clear in the monograph The Day The Liberator Crashed On Chichester published recently by The Chichester Local History Society in association with The University Of Chichester.

Your excellent review of the Liberator story which you printed a couple of weeks ago contained this one slip which was not surprising given the similarity of the two placenames.

The author, Ken Green, is to be congratulated for the close research which he undertook and for the many personal contacts which he made with people directly involved with the crash and its consequences including of course members of the crew.

The editor, Paul Foster, and his advisory group produced a most attractive booklet.

Brian commented on the suitability of the B-24 Liberator as a bomber and although I am by no means an authority on second world war I understand that although the B-24 had a longer range than the B-17 Fortress it was less robust, easily caught fire, and was known as ‘The Flying Coffin’ – a name which gives real cause for reflection on the bravery of the young airmen who flew from Britain.

I understand also that over the war years a number of damaged bombers made it back over the Channel only to crash in Sussex, some of the crew bailing out, but there are others I am sure who have more detailed knowledge than I do.

Can I please say thank you to all those Chichester people who have purchased the ‘Liberator’ booklet, the first of The New Chichester Papers?

With their help this first publication has proved to be a great success.

Mike Taylor, Chairman, Chichester Local History Society

HOW SELFISH of Sandra Wisdom to want to reduce the number of buses that pass her house in Selsey.

It’s okay for someone else to have them pass theirs, I suppose?

She’s been in residence for ten months.

It does make you wonder why she bought the house that was on a frequent bus route if it disturbs her so much?

While we are all concerned about the safety of pedestrians and children going to school, it should be said that the buses do not tear round the bend.

The drivers all seem to be extremely careful.

And I’m sure that most Selsey residents don’t want to lose their quarter of an hour bus service just to please Sandra Wisdom,

Perhaps she would be better living happily ever after somewhere else?

Kay Everrett (Mrs), Broad View, Selsey

WE TASTE yet another bunch of sour grapes from the gentleman Cosgrove consequent upon his ‘buy now, pay later’ political party being ousted from government.

He seems to forget that it was their conduct of affairs which makes the current situation inevitable, the painful remedy for which he finds so unpalatable, as do so many who unreasonably depend on state handouts.

The Welfare State, inaugurated shortly after the second world war, was intended to assist the unfortunate, among other things, such as the NHS.

It has since been subject to abuse to the state in which it encourages dependency on the state by the feckless.

I wonder how many ‘working class’ jobs are held by immigrants because the multitude of work-shy natives will not take them?

By not taking those jobs they have given employers the opportunity to employ immigrants prepared to better their status even though accepting lower wages than might have been earned by natives.

All these immigrants aggravate the housing situation.

Studying the statistics, it seems inconceivable that the NHS has so failed the nation that millions are unfit to work for a living, to be supported by those who are, and octogenarians such as my wife and me, who resent our hard-earned retirement incomes being hijacked by the feckless.

I am perfectly willing to support the unfortunate, but I strongly object to subsidising layabouts, especially when our armed forces are endangered by lack of expenditure on badly needed essential equipment.

Mr Cosgrove decries the 30s, which were indeed times of hardship.

However, my gardener father and his parlourmaid wife managed, by prudence and thrift, to raise me and my sister, in those times of depression, without any of the benefits available in modern times, and enabled us to benefit from the scholarship they encouraged us to win, even by so doing they deprived themselves of much they might otherwise have had.

That is the difference between dependence and independence.

Pride in the latter is no sin, and it is time that it is given more encouragement.

M Ayling, Elizabeth Avenue, Rose Green

I THINK, regarding what is going to happen to our Bognor Museum (new), a leaf needs to be taken from Rustington’s book.

Their new museum and cafe are beautiful.

Bognor seems, as always, to be let down again.

G Challis (Mrs), Barrack Lane, Bognor Regis

I FEEL it necessary to write to the paper following the big Christmas light turn-on in Bognor Regis on Saturday, November 27, 2010.

I am a father of four daughters and on this particular Saturday, I found myself having to amuse three of them.

I had a flyer for the events that were taking place so during the latter part of the morning, I got the girls ready and into the car.

One of my daughters was due at a party in the town for midday, so I dropped her off and then took the other two off to the Regis Centre to meet Father Christmas.

With my flyer in hand, I was confident that I would make it in time for the 12.30 cut off period.

The children were very excited about seeing Father Christmas, but as we rushed round and arrived at 12.10, we were met with a big sign saying Father Christmas was at lunch until 1.30 ... safe to say that my children (and I!) were not very happy.

However, I was aware that he was back from lunch at 1.30, so I told them we would come back later.

And that is what we did. At 2.20 and after treating the children to a McDonald’s, we wandered round to the Regis Centre again – this time to find that the Father Christmas event was completely closed with a huge queue waiting to see him.

As you can imagine, the children were again very disappointed, but upon then visiting his reindeer, the situation was salvageable and no tears were spilt.

After going back home for an hour or so, it was nearing time to get the girls back into town to witness the big lights turn-on at 4.30.

I picked up their grandma too and we drove and parked near the High Street.

In all fairness, we were cutting it a bit fine, but we had parked up at 4.25 and as the High Street was only a minute away, this wouldn’t be a problem..

How wrong I was when the lights went on at 4.27, so that was also missed.

I understand that the turn-on happened early to allow the buses through!

We then walked up to the arcade and stood near to where all the action was happening.

A lady with a very fine voice then sang a number of songs, which was great apart from the fact that she was one side of the road, the crowd were the other and there were quite a number of buses having to now drive through the middle.

With what was a backlog of buses now driving through, this poor lady had her voice totally drowned out at regular intervals.

What daft apeth thought it a good idea to situate this lady on the other side of this road?

Possibly the same one that meticulously set out the times on the flyer, only for arguably the main ones to not be stuck to AND not planning on Father Christmas being totally inundated!

I must however pass on my gratitude to Arun District Council for allowing free parking for the day.

In a time of such financial uncertainty – especially for the public sector – this was very much appreciated.

In addition, I must add that living in Bognor Regis, I do feel luckier than our neighbours in Chichester as I hear that they do not have any lights at all.

Unfortunately, though the planning of the day seemed to be rather lacking somewhat and although I would hasten to add that I would not like the burden of project managing such an event – there is always room for improvement.

Paul Heselton, Housing Manager, Petersfield Housing Association, Lavant Street, Petersfield

WE WOULD like to thank the shops and businesses and all the residents and local people who donated prizes and items and came to our Fayre on Saturday, November 20.

This was a great success and raised in excess of £700 towards running the Association in it’s aim to save the estate from over development and also The Willows, our fortnightly Friday Call-in Centre, which is free for all local residents.

Father Christmas was in attendance along with lots of stalls and a huge raffle.

Thank you all.

Anne Bass, Secretary, Willowhale Farm Residents Association

I RECENTLY attended the AGM for Stonepillow (formerly The Christian Care Association) I have been a volunteer at the Night Refuge in the past.

I was surprised , and dismayed, to learn from the chairman of the trustees that Arun District Council has given no financial support to the charity over many years, despite having the St Martins day Centre and Sands Rehabitation Centres in Bognor, and the young Asylum seekers project in Littlehampton.

It appears that Chichester District Council has been far more generous with its financial support for the Glasswork’s Day Centre ,and St Joseph’s night refuge at Hunston.

With so much comment in the Observer about the payments by both Butlin’s and Sainsbury’s, surely some of this money could be given to Stonepillow to help homeless people in the Arun district, especially in the present economic climate which will no doubt increase the number of homeless people?

St Martin’s Day Centre is likely to close due for financial reasons, much of the charities support comes from the big lottery fund and local Churches.

I look forward to reader’s comments about this subject.

Anne Evans (Mrs), Bognor Regis

WELL DONE David Adams for speaking up about the decline of Stoney Stile Lane (The Bognor Regis Observer, Page 3, November 25).

Willowhale Farm Residents’ Association, along with Aldwick Parish Council, has received dozens of complaints about the decline of Stoney Stile Lane.

This was looked after by contractors for Aldwick Parish Council for Places for People until in their wisdom (cost) this agreement was stopped and Places for People now use their own landscaping department.

Places for People stated that the landscaping did not come up to their normal high standards.

The facts are that the majority of the Residents who rent or own their homes on the Willowhale Farm Estate PAY A MAINTENANCE CHARGE to PfP regarding the upkeep of this estate.

We, as a Residents’ Association, would like to know where does all this money go?

Not on the Willowhale or its surrounding areas that PfP own.

Again, well done David Adams for showing what Places for People are really about.

They only want to infill by building more houses and ignore the wishes of local people.

John Bass Founder, WFRA, Elbridge Crescent, Bognor Regis

JAN COSGROVE (Observer letters, December 2) comments on the silence of local Liberal Democrats – it is a fair point.

Voters in council elections often cast their vote with the expectation that their chosen party will act as an effective opposition to any ruling party.

Ruling parties, especially those with substantial majorities, can become arrogant and complacent and because of the party whipping system their policies are rarely subjected to any meaningful internal scrutiny or challenge.

The need for effective opposition is clear.

The problem is that the ‘civil partnership’ between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives at national level has created an interesting and unusual situation at local level.

Here in Arun many voters have a reasonable expectation that the Liberal Democrats will form an effective opposition – to scrutinise and challenge the ruling Conservative group.

Many voted with that expectation – but is it actually happening?

Or are we experiencing silence as Jan Cosgrove suggests?

Allowances are provided to Opposition Leaders, by taxpayers, for the purpose of providing effective opposition.

The report of the Independent Panel on Member Allowances for Arun in June 2009 stated ‘The Panel was faced with some difficulty in coming to a recommendation as they were keenly aware of the importance of strong opposition and did not wish to be seen to be downgrading the role.

‘The Panel also accepted the fact that Opposition Leaders have to develop an understanding across all portfolios to effectively act as Opposition Leaders.’

The question is ... are we getting value for money?

Or is this money being claimed under a false pretext?

Wouldn’t it be more honest if, so called, Liberal Democrat or Conservative Opposition Leaders across the country, instead of pretending that they oppose each other (while quietly collaborating to implement their coalition government’s policies at local level), give up their opposition allowances in favour of those who can genuinely claim to be in opposition?

Tony Dixon, Barons Close, Westergate

THIS IS addressed to Mr Tony Toynton,Chief Executive Officer of West Sussex County Council; Philippa Eld, Press Officer and the Highways Department as well as The Midhurst and Petworth Observer.

I am disgusted, disappointed and angry at the total lack of gritting support over the past few days to the residents of Elmleigh, June Lane, Nine Acres, June Rise, June Meadows and all the properties in that area.

The total number of homes amounts to more than 200 and I dare not work on the number of people involved.

I just do not know how you can ignore people like this?

We all live either on a hill or have to approach our houses from a hill, which in Elmleigh may be about 15/20 per cent near the entrance.

This tragedy we have experienced is the second time in less than 12 months.

I have had a marooned vehicle at my home and my wife’s car had to be abandoned 300 yards from our house.

I did just manage to walk (albeit dangerously) to and from my place of work in Midhurst.

How the older people managed I do not know.

The place was dead.

Luckily I had another vehicle in the town which I then had to use backwards and forwards, parking about a quarter of a mile away from my home.

Leaving a vehicle like that makes the vehicles vulnerable to attack by thieves, too.

This, I know, has happened in Fernhurst, uncovered this morning by one of my patrolmen.

I called West Sussex County Council offices on Thursday morning desperately seeking support for some gritting in this area.

Although the male I spoke to was sympathetic all he could offer was to have a grit bin installed by Midhurst Town Council and WSCC would keep it filled.

I just wonder how long that would take?

I accept that these must have been difficult times for you and the gritting drivers.

Being local I know that there are lots of hills or rises in the area.

But I feel certain that the powers to be in County Hall would not know or maybe not even care of our plight in the Midhurst and Petworth area.

To exacerbate the situation my wife and I are volunteers on the Midhurst Community Bus which every day would enter Elmleigh.

That service had to be cancelled putting at risk the passengers, of whom the greater number of users are elderly.

How do they get their regular provisions?

My wife also is a volunteer driver for the Tandem service.

That had to be cancelled too.

I was told by the same man at WSCC that you have 30,000 miles of roads under your care.

I am fully aware of this as I have lived here since 1972.

The following three days that is Thursday Friday and Saturday meant that the hills, still prevented movement.

I attempted to move our car and got it stuck again and therefore had to abandon again but a little nearer to home.

The main A286 and A272 were kept reasonably clear but they were still very poor in places even on Sunday too.

I am certain that there are many others who feel the same as I do.

I operate a 24/7 security company and therefore needed my vehicle accessible at all times.

I feel very let down at the awful support and service that you are supposed to provide.

I was out on patrol on Sunday and noticed that there were placed here and there the large ‘bumpy bags’ maybe filled with salt or grit.

Was this idea yours or somebody else?

This is almost as frustrating as the constant floods that appear near the McDonald’s on the big roundabout at Portfield.

Ted Liddle, Elmleigh

THERE’S a foul stench rising from within the ranks of FIFA.

A stench which will continue to permeate the nostrils of those of us who condemn corruption in all its revolting forms and I’m extremely proud of our superlative team of three champions, who together with others, including our culture secretary, the Rt Hon Mr Jeremy Hunt MP, attended the recent FIFA fiasco in Zurich and did their best for Britain, as well as for that great game which so many of us, myself included, respect and cherish.

However, as far as FIFA were concerned, the name of the game wasn’t ‘Football’ on this occasion in Zurich, but ‘Humiliation’.

This has backfired on FIFA and all those within it, who appear to be ignoring the allegations of sleaze and corruption against some of it’s officials and associates and who resent our free press and media exposure and bringing it to public attention.

No-one can humiliate our country without our consent and the true nobility of spirit and grace, displayed by our three fine ‘champions’ and their splendid team after the result of the voting, clearly demonstrated that our country and our nation are well on the way to achieving that level of ‘Greatness’ for which we once were famous, for their examples of dignity and integrity were inspiring and reminded me of Kipling’s famous lines.

We can hold our heads up high, for our hands are much cleaner than the grubby paws of those who seek to bring us down to their levels.

The spirit of Great Britain is alive and well.

Come what may, we’ll stand against those who seek to compromise and blemish the good name of sport. We won’t be intimidated, nor will we ever be slaves!

Lomond Handley, Haslemere, Surrey

IN THE Comprehensive Spending Review, the chancellor announced that the government would be removing the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for those people who live in residential care homes.

Disability charities and organisations, such as Mencap, are campaigning against this decision.

We are all very concerned that, as an unintended consequence of this proposal, many people with a learning disability will no longer be able to afford to go out and meet with friends and families, participate in external social activities and engage with their local communities.

I believe the government has misunderstood how disabled people use this important benefit.

Without this vital lifeline, many disabled people in residential care will lose much of their independence.

Richard Beckwith, Springfields Close, Ifold

IT WAS interesting to see the announcement in the Observer of November 25 indicating, not surprisingly, that the use of water meters were to become compulsory by Southern Water.

What is upsetting is that we, in Midhurst and Petworth, lose out again like we did when the hosepipe ban occurred in 2005.

On this occasion we experienced the ban yet it was not being applied over the whole of the area covered by Southern Water but we continued to pay the same charges as those outside of our area and not having a metered charge, even though we obviously used less water.

This was a windfall profit for Southern Water.

It was after this unreasonable charge that I was encouraged to have a meter installed and found out that due to having a low rateable value, used by Southern Water in its calculation of the charge made to me for water charges, I paid more when the charge was based on the measured /metered charge. This was despite having only a reasonably large garden, 35m long, but not being an excessive user of the hosepipe.

In this instance I was allowed to revert to being charged on the original system based on rateable value but I have continued to compare my current charge with that I might pay if metered and have found that it still benefits me to not to revert to a metered charge.

We are a family of only two and as indicated above are not excessive users of the hosepipe particularly in recent wet summers.

There must be others who will be similarly affected.

I am in Group C for rateable value and while this is not the value adopted by the water authority, in their calculation, it must be relevant when compared to the values applied by Southern Water when making its calculation for unmetered charges for all properties.

I suspect therefore that those living in smaller houses – ie with low rateable values and even with low occupancy – may pay more when metered.

We know that all new properties now must have a metered supply but this is relevant to the whole area covered by Southern Water.

This latest proposal is limited to Midhurst and Petworth.

You do not give any indication of the likely completion date for the whole area.

A fair approach would be to install the meters, in this initial phase, but allow owners/residents to opt out of the metered charge, if they prefer in the first year and to not make it compulsory, until the meter installation programme is completed for the whole of the area covered by Southern Water.

This will avoid the Midhurst and Petworth area subsidising the remaining area as we did during the hosepipe ban.

Allan J Chambers, Kirdford

I CONGRATULATE Chichester District Council and those concerned with the plans to build the Grange leisure complex in the current Grange car park area, and I am pleased it has received the £500,000 boost to the funding from the Monument Trust (Observer, November 25) which enables events to move forward with the building.

But I am not convinced that this indicates any likely change in West Sussex County Council’s current plans to phase out its current commitment to funding and providing traditional day care across the county – including the Midhurst and Petworth area.

The headline on the front page of the Midhurst and Petworth Observer – £500,000 gift may provide a lifeline for day care at the Grange – was (perhaps unintentionally) misleading and has led some people to assume that somehow ‘day-care’ has now been saved at the Grange.

Due process continues, and WSCC need to be challenged on the current process of consultation.

The issue will be debated in full council on Friday, December 17, as a result of the petition with more than 5,000 signatures forwarded recently to County Hall.

Ken Jacques, Minister, Harting Congregation Church, Harting