Letters: 19/12/13

Skerton High School.
Skerton High School.

This week’s letters in the Lancaster Guardian.

Shame it will end like this

No-one was really surprised to hear that the county council’s cabinet member for schools took the decision, despite huge numbers of local objectors, to move to the next stage of closing Skerton School.

I, for one, am convinced that instead of only looking at the school’s academic outputs, the county council should have been highlighting the fact that in terms of ‘contextual value added’ Skerton has consistently performed in the top 10-20 per cent of all schools nationally.

I agree that it would have required some determined and creative effort to turn around the reputation of Skerton to increase numbers on the roll – and that is something parents are determined to do and could be done with commitment from all concerned.

At the public meeting held in the school a couple of months ago, there were representatives from both the Labour and Conservative parties, so I thought there would at least be support for my ‘call-in’ of the decision, so as to have more debate at the scrutiny committee.

But none of the Labour or Conservative county councillors I asked, including Skerton’s own county councillor, would support a call-in.

However, regardless of whether other moves to save the school outside the control of the county council are successful (and I sincerely hope they are and that, if so, they manage to keep the caring ethos of the school intact), I think the pupils and parents deserved more than just token showing-their-faces-at-a-meeting support from local county councillors to save the school from closing.

Gina Dowding

County Councillor, Green Party, Lancaster Central

Aldcliffe Road

Lancaster

This is a poor bribe

There is no doubt that breast feeding is the best start in life a baby can get. But is offering mums a £200 bribe the right approach? I think not.

With breast feeding rates one of the lowest in Europe I am all in favour of new mums being encouraged to do so but I suspect the pilot scheme in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire is doomed to fail.

How is it going to be possible to check that they have done so unless a midwife is present every feeding time? And we all know there aren’t enough midwives to go round as it is, without them having to engage in this box ticking exercise.

Louise Bours, UKIP

14 Hampshire Close

Congleton

Cheshire

Should have gone west

Most readers will be sighing with relief now that the long-drawn out M6-Heysham controversy is drawing to a close. We shall see in due course how effective it proves to be.

Yet there are still some issues which remain shrouded in mystery.

In 1998 a public enquiry was held in Lancaster Town Hall and the county council engaged a barrister to support their case for the western route.

In 2004 this self-same barrister counselled the county council that it would be perverse to continue pressing for the western route!

Whether this apparent volte face was the result of the publication of the environmental report by ADAS or he/she had been ‘leant’ upon, I know not.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, I asked several questions of the county council and learnt that no elected member had been involved in any way with the appointment of the barrister.

This had been done by the then chief executive and county solicitor.

The barrister had not been selected from a short-list.

The terms of reference given to the barrister was ‘privileged’ information (under the Act) and could not be revealed.

I then asked whether I would be able to view the terms if I was an elected councillor.

Answer - No. One might be forgiven for asking ‘Why?’

It would appear that the LCC changed its mind on the opinion of one person!

Can anyone seriously believe that a handful of bats and Great Crested Newts will be allowed to prevent the planned 
HS2 rail link, in the same way that prevented the western route?

Rod Cartner

Bryn Grove

Hest Bank

Thanks for pass return

May I, through your columns, take the opportunity of thanking the public-spirited member of the public who found my lost NoW Card buss pass, and my Disabled Person’s Railcard, and kindly returned them to the respective issuers around a week ago.

Both cards have now been posted back to me, and I am very grateful to the person who found them. If he or she would like to contact me, I’d be delighted to share a festive drink with him or her.

Michael Nunn

20 Wesley House

Sulyard Street

Lancaster

LA1 1PX

Donate to charity

I am appealing for used postage stamps which help me raise funds which I then donate to the Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Recycling used postage stamps is such an easy way to raise money for the charity and I am always in need of all types of postage stamps, including British, Foreign and Christmas stamps.

If you are able to help I would be grateful if you could cut the stamps from their envelopes (leaving a 1cm margin around the stamp) and send them to the address below.

Myrna Chave

PO Box 91

Virginia Water

Surrey GU25 9AR

stamps4gdftb@live.co.uk

We’ll all lose out

You (somewhat mischievously I thought) printed a tweet I had made. This was done without seeking any elaboration from me on what was obviously a contentious subject. I have learnt a lesson and won’t be tweeting again.

My tweet was in response to the Lancaster Guardian’s own tweet: “Market inside the Assembly Rooms in Lancaster could go as part of council cuts, leaving the city with no indoor market. What do you think?” The answer I gave questioned the number of visitors the Assembly Rooms attract.

This has clearly upset some of the Assembly Room traders, for which I apologise. I want them all to have successful businesses.

However, the surrounding question which prompted the Guardian’s tweet remains.

Our council has to make further savings of £3.5m per year. This is due to the reduction in funding to councils from the Tory-led coalition Government.

Within the city council there are no more efficiencies, no more reorganisations, no more fat to cut that will achieve this level of savings.

We are now at the point where some of our key services/facilities will be hit.

Does the council cut things such as the Assembly Rooms, affecting people’s livelihoods or sports facilities/swimming pools affecting the health and well being of residents, especially children. I fear that the eventual answer, given the scale of the funding cuts our council faces, might be both.

So, the question for the council and everyone in the Lancaster/Morecambe/Carnforth district is what should be cut?

Colin Hartley

1 Alderman Road

Lancaster LA1 5FW

We need a scheme now

Your recent story, Stop crashing into my car and driving off (November 21), I too have been the unfortunate victim of having my car bumped while parked outside my house and I live on Lincoln Road, the next street to Wingate Saul Road.

It is two years since we were invited by the county council to decide whether we were or were not in favour of the residents’ parking scheme.

The residents voted in favour of the scheme and ever since then the county council have dragged their heels and failed to enforce the scheme.

It is we, the residents, who have been left to suffer ever since.

Should we dare to leave the street in our car then you can guarantee that within five minutes or even less from leaving that someone (either post office worker at 6.45am six days a week, a commuter/holiday maker using the train, a town worker or a shopper) will have parked in that spot.

We then have to wait until after 6pm before we are able to return to anywhere near our properties to be able to park.

On Wednesdays and Saturdays some of the market traders will park up on the street and go into town for the day.

Unless you have had to live through what we have to day in and day out then you cannot appreciate the misery that we encounter.

We now need immediate action from the county council – they should stop sitting in their little offices in Preston and actually see for themselves what we are subject to.

People also park on corners where it is unsafe to despite white lines being painted on the road and this makes deliveries very difficult for us as large vehicles cannot get round the streets.

Bring on the residents’ parking without further delay.

Name and address 
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