Altham Meadows is too good to close

Altham Meadows. Morecambe.
Altham Meadows. Morecambe.

Our local area has had a well developed old age psychiatry service for many years with inpatient care in purpose-built buildings which have ground floor accommodation, en-suite rooms, sitting areas and access to gardens.

Altham Meadows is the last such unit and due to close later this year; this is a Lancashire Care Foundation Trust and Clinical Commissioning group decision.

We will lose eight beds for older, less fit adults, with mental illness (not dementia) and eight dementia beds: alternative provision will be at Ribbleton, Lytham, Burnley or Blackburn, until planned new units open in 2115 or 2116.

Thus inpatients will lose contact with their relatives and social group, especially if they need public transport for visiting, and the multi-disciplinary teams will spend hours en-route to ward rounds for reviews and decisions.

Person-centred care, whereby relatives are included in these ward-based meetings, will be threatened.

The Trust promised person-centred care in its Carers Strategy 2010 but has made no offers itself to assist visitors, mentioning improved public transport, or volunteers or video-conferencing instead of visits.

We must ask the Trust and Clinical Commissions to preserve Altham Meadows as an inpatient unit for Lancashire north of Garstang.

It has in no way been an isolated unit, housing in the same buildings community teams, day care unit, psychiatrists, and until recently, the local Alzheimer’s Society staff, and has large numbers of visitors daily. It is spacious enough to provide separate living area for the differing needs of the patients in a safe and pleasant environment.

Mary Ann Watts-Tobin

Carer Healthwatch member psychiatrist

High speed offers visionary future

I must reply to the letter High Speed Madness in the Lancaster Guardian from Graeme Chapman MBE.

Mr Chapman has evidently swallowed the big red herring that there is ‘no money’ in Britain which is being peddled by our conspiracy Coalition government of Cameron and Cleggy-clogs.

This time it is over the plan to build high speed rail lines from London to Manchester and Leeds over the next 25 years, with associated link-up routes.

First of all, apart from being vital within a general comprehensive public transport integration perspective, HS2 is easily affordable.

The real fantasy ‘prestige’ plans are for new Trident missile systems and hugely expensive aircraft carriers by ‘our’ megalomaniac warmongering ruling class tax-dodging kleptocracy.

All the welfare and other issues Mr Chapman highlights are easily affordable, notwithstanding, as well as HS2 and the construction of an integrated state owned public transport system.

More so, if the private rip-off sector are stopped from getting their sticky fingers on our tax money.

Even more so if there were to be a massive redistribution of the £4-5 trillion held by the ‘top’ 10 per cent of the British population, over 30 times the current economic deficit.

Just as wind turbines should be built offshore so the grasping propertied classes and their friends cannot profit from any government grants on land, so HS2 rail would be an integral basis for an environmentally and socially responsible, fast (3-400mph+) worldwide freight and passenger train system, especially if a tunnel were to be built over the Bering Strait between Siberia (Russia) and Alaska (USA) concurrently.

Not only would this negate the wasteful and environmentally disastrous long-haul need for bulk air and sea transport (all petroleum-based), it would also boost the economies of the world by creating massive demand for steel, electronics, etc, to construct the new system, just as the huge railway boom in the 19th century benefited the vast majority.

And this time it should be done without capitalist speculators muscling in as part of a centralised, socialist, workers-controlled plan.

I urge Mr chapman MBE to see the big picture as others can, like me.

Steve Metcalfe (personal capacity)

Branch Secretary

Lancaster District RMT 0844.

New homes could spoil city for ever

You were right to point out in your article (September 19, Local plan ‘too complex’) that the vast majority of councillors passed the local plan for public consultation without even having read it. There were some 600 pages of documents to read and councillors were expected to read them at the town hall or via a computer link (mine wasn’t working). Greens argued for a pause to ensure that more councillors knew what they were signing up for, but we were severely outvoted.

The local plan will run until 2026. For me, the most serious aspect of it is the massive projected increase in green field housing.

Whilst final figures are not yet finalised, it looks like council officers will be advising 600 homes per year (possibly 800 backdated for previous years where this figure was not met).

To illustrate the magnitude of these figures, there are a number of brown field housing developments taking place in the city – Luneside East and West, Moor Hospital, Nightingale Hall Farm. However, numbers being built on these sites would fill just over a year of the new figures.

I can see that there is a need for new housing, especially with an ageing population; in particular, there is a clear need for housing association and/or council houses.

There is also a particular need for one and two bedroom properties to cope with the increasing number of people living on their own.

However, from past experience, the sort of properties we will get will not be the ones needed. And the scale of the projected increases will change Lancaster from a relatively compact town set in stunning countryside to one with a large sub-urban sprawl.

Coun Jon Barry

Willow Lane


Welcome halt to our Syrian action

It is welcome that the majority of MPs rejected David Cameron’s efforts to rush Parliament into endorsing steps towards an attack on Syria.

The recent events were hauntingly reminiscent of past misadventures where a timetable set by the US has taken priority over hearing from UN Inspectors or planning for the consequences of our actions.

While the Prime Minister claimed this would not be an intervention into the carnage of the Syrian civil war, few, either at home or in Syria would see it as anything else. The unintended results of such an intervention risk turning this into a regional war, while failing to decisively resolve the conflict within Syria.

Britain should be strongly engaged in the world and in efforts to prevent the grievous human rights abuses in Syria.

Our choice must not be ‘bombing or nothing’. Opposition forces are being pushed back from many of their earlier gains.

Negotiations towards a political settlement present a much greater chance of offering security to Syrian civilians than for us to become yet a further party of those many already engaged in this horrific war.

Cat Smith

Labour Party Parliamentary Candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood.

Children in war need our help

In Syria, too many children are witnessing horrific violence and are losing loved ones, their homes, and their chance of an education.

More than four million Syrian children are now in need of our help in what is the largest humanitarian operation in history. Behind the numbers are real children whose futures are hanging in the balance.

I recently visited Domiz camp for Syrian refugees in Northern Iraq, where I heard stories of unimaginable loss.

One baby boy had been shot through his father’s arms as he rushed him to safety in his hometown in Syria.

Others were so affected by the horror they had seen, they could no longer sleep at night.

UNICEF is working around the clock for children in Syria and in five neighbouring countries - Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. We are providing safe drinking water, essential vaccines, education, and psychological support. We have incredibly courageous staff on the ground trying to reach as many children as they can, but there is still so much to do.

In spite of the increased attention on Syria in recent weeks, UNICEF’s humanitarian response to this crisis remains critically underfunded.

I urge you to think of Syria’s children and do something - however small - to help mend their shattered childhoods.

To donate online visit . To donate by phone call 0800 316 5353. We need your help, to make sure that a generation of Syrian children is not lost.

Jon Sparkes,

Chief operating officer


Next stop the university

For some time now I have been somewhat perplexed as to why there is no railway station opposite Lancaster University, especially as the West Coast main line passes within 100 metres of the main entrance, and that Lancaster University has grown in ‘leaps and bounds’ during the last 10-15 years.

Lancaster University is, I believe, the ‘University of Choice’ these days.

With the debate now going on regarding HS2 it begs the question, does it not, will taxpayers have to fork out £50 billion on a railway system that makes no sense financially apart from the shareholders of the privatised railway companies?

And, furthermore, that neither the public – and if the truth be known MPs – do not agree with. So would it not be better to spend £50billion of taxpayer’s money on a railway system that the ‘grassroots’ will benefit from?

But then I suppose my views or opinions will be like the ‘Proverbial in the Wind’.

Norman Tomlinson

Elterwater Place