This week’s letters from the Lancaster Guardian.
Cut waste to save money
We have been subjected to a torrent of articles blaming everyone except ourselves for having to put up council tax, while still making cuts, the latest by Coun Andrew Kay of the Green Party about possible bus service cuts (Guardian, February 13, Hometruths for Tories).
In villages like Overton, the bus service is essential, and all parties agree on this, but Coun Kay specifically blames the national Government.
As an Independent, I would like to add a touch of non-partisan reality.
For two years the present Labour/Green administration has refused the Government’s offer to subsidise rates by one per cent, if councils kept to a zero-rate rise.
Our council claimed it could not survive without the extra one per cent.
Yet the same council wastes money by the million.
I recently attended a computer training session in the council-owned City Lab building.
I was in a huge office with only two other council employees, being trained by an outside, council-paid organisation.
Why do we need outside trainers, when we have a huge, very expensive IT department?
Even worse, I did a tour of the very extensive ground-floor of the building. Only one office was being used, but the lights and heating in every single office were on.
I would like to point out that, only a few yards away, the town hall also has many empty offices. The same applies to St Leonard’s House, which we own, but which is only part-occupied and which costs the taxpayers £80,000pa to maintain.
The cuts the council is making are tiny, compared to the massive waste of money.
The total money lost on the Labour-initiated Lancaster Market, which was opposed by almost all the market stall holders, who wanted a simple replacement for the old single-storey, successful one, adds up to £15 million.
Now we are giving away for 250 years all the land, which taxpayers bought to build an inner ring road, on the speculative Centros development.
In the land is the car park which the Grand Theatre rents from the council, but which will now be given to the developers, with no guarantees for the future.
What we need is not a lot more political grandstanding, but a bit of simple housekeeping common sense. There is no need to increase the council tax. We should get rid of all these prestige buildings and pet projects so beloved of some councillors, and get back to basics.
We should be there to do the unglamorous jobs like cleansing and maintenance.
Property ownership and subsidies for speculative private enterprise must be kept to an absolute minimum.
Coun Keith Sowden (Free Independent, Overton Ward, Lancaster CC)
Chairman, Overton Parish Council
Great effort by students
May I take the opportunity provided by the Student Volunteering Week (February 24 to March 2) to say a big thank you to all local students who get involved in the work of our charity – Meningitis Now.
Students support us as part of our Young Ambassadors team, helping to shape the charity’s future, supporting others who may be struggling and making sure everyone knows that Meningitis Now is here for anyone affected by meningitis.
We’re also grateful to the many university RAG societies who support our work.
As a charity which receives no government funding we rely on the fantastic fundraising efforts of our supporters to raise the £10,000 we need each day to provide our lifesaving and life-changing services.
Of course, getting involved with Meningitis Now is not just about fundraising – we have many roles available which can help expand students’ skills and increase their employability.
Student Volunteering Week is a good opportunity to raise awareness of these. And volunteers can have a lot of fun and make friends along the way.
Our volunteers are at the heart of everything we do. Without them we simply wouldn’t be able to achieve a fraction of what we do – their commitment is simply amazing.
If you’d like to find out more please get in touch by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at http://www.meningitisnow.org/support-us/volunteer/
Local centre helped care
My mother suffers from advanced dementia and has lived with us in our home for many years. Unfortunately due to worsening behavioural problems she has now entered permanent nursing care.
We would not have been able to care for her as long as we did without the support of two local day centres: Vale View and Altham Meadows.
The standard of care Mum received was second to none, and we would like to thank all the staff, including the transport service who ensured her trips to and from day centre were all part of the enjoyable and reliable experience. These services must be protected at all costs
Mum didn’t settle well when she entered care and it was suggested she be admitted to a NHS mental health assessment ward, but no beds were available locally.
The thought of having to travel hundreds of miles to see her (Newcastle and Leeds were mentioned) filled us with dread.
Therefore we can say with some authority that it is imperative that local adult mental health beds are retained, for example the assessment unit associated with Altham Meadows.
Lynne and John Cox
We’ll raise a cup to you
Action for Children would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved with the Silverdale Coffee Morning, which took place on Saturday, January 11, in aid of Action for Children.
We were fortunate to have many willing volunteers who generously gave their time and worked very hard on our behalf.
The local communities were also very kind and supported us by donating items and attending the event.
We were thrilled to raise more than £450 which will enable Action for Children to continue to help vulnerable children, young people and their families in the North Lancashire and Cumbria area.
Action for Children helps the most vulnerable children and young people in the UK break through injustice, deprivation and inequality, so they can achieve their full potential.
Your support really does make a significant difference to the lives of children. On behalf of the children you have supported, please accept our warmest thanks.
For more information on other events, or to find out more about Action for Children, please call 01925 850856.
Action for Children
Parking was free
So finally the letter has arrived from LCC informing us of the residents’ parking scheme to begin in March.
We will have to pay £40 each my wife and I to be able to park where we have parked perfectly well for free for the past 20 years.
In fact our options will be more restricted as yellow lines will be introduced.
Clearly this is not the council working to improve our lot. When speaking to a council employee he informed me that the schemes have to be increased because of the knock-on effect from the up and running schemes near the city centre pushing parkers further out.
So the logic seems to be that we residents living away from the centre pay a rate in order for those living further in to park more conveniently.
I hope those centre dwellers appreciate the sacrifice we make on their behalf.
My wife and I live on pensions and it seems ironic that the central government worries so much about £100 plus energy increases that it promises to claw back £50 for us. Our local government then wipes that out with £80 for which I gain nothing.
Name and address supplied
Despair prompts me to write to you of the devastating effects that the banning of Permit A disabled drivers from the city centre is having on us and our well being.
Sadly I am severely handicapped at walking, therefore the parking at lower Church Street is not of any use to me, in act if anyone could walk to where I need to go to in the centre they would not be eligible for a Blue Badge.
At upper Church Street and Common Garden Street there are only two spaces allocated and these are invariably occupied. This means that we are precluded from visiting the city centre shops, the public library and banks and not banking on line.
I just do not know how to cope with this huge problem, and at my age going to the bank in Garstang is not a long term solution; also I suffer from an eye complaint and have to visit my optician in the centre (as I have done for the last 40 years) to be monitored. It is worth noting that taxis are not allowed within the city centre.
Perhaps it would be easier to bear if the reason for this made any sense at all – if it is to improve the outdoor market or to provide entertainment and events.
If it is to help the easy flow for pedestrians, what about all the bright metal tables, chairs and fences that have appeared recently on the streets plus all the A boards, some of which can be up to two metres out from the shop fronts.
I do believe that the way that this total ban on handicapped drivers has been carried out is heavy handed, and perhaps a better approach would have been to still allow Permit A parking in Church Street (this would keep it exclusive for Lancaster City Council tax payers).
My wife and I served our apprenticeships, were employed, were in business, owned property, lived and brought up our family within the city centre, for a total between us of 143 years, and now we are to be excluded.
Naturally it saddens us and it also worries us on how we can surmount the problems it brings us.