Letters: 28/11/13


Letters from this week’s Lancaster Guardian.

Funding has to change

It was sad to read your headline regarding the saving of St John’s Hospice, a facility that is an essential service for our area and one in which we really shouldn’t be relying on campaigns for public money by donation.

Like many, I have been involved in fundraising on a small scale and contributing to the hospice because we alll know about the wonderful work it does.

But whilst I do agree with Evelyn, and her story is moving and touching, the need for money should be coming directly from either local or central government.

I think most people would like to think a good portion of their taxes would meet costs like these. Moonlight walks and making cakes are all well and good, great fun, but it will take months, most likely years, to raise and maintain the levels of support needed.

Cancer is affecting one in three people at the moment and the medical view is that this will become one in two sooner than you think and eventually if we maintain lifestyles and attitudes towards the disease, in particular from governments and pharmaceutical companies, then it will affect us all.

In my view it should be at the heart of all NHS trust and government plannning now it’s that serious and lifestyles have to change.

I speak as someone who was diagnosed with a poor prognosis for advanced bowel cancer caught too late in June this year and something which also shocked my GP.

It’s life changing, frightening and, as daft as it sounds, you deal with it like a part-time job. The level of care and support from friends, loved ones, family, Macmillan, St John’s, and the oncology department are so important to us and each should never have to worry about not being able to look after patients to the highest level of care, not for one minute.

I hope, that if appropriate, the hospice can give the highest possible care to me and support to my loved ones without worrying where the next penny is coming from.

It needs all of us to petition our MPs to lobby government with this.

The cost to the NHS of cancer was published as £16 billion per year and in some areas treatments aren’t even available, which is scandalous. Thankfully, they are in this area and with extra cancer funding grants, specialist treatments are available for some cancers.

Lobby your MP now!

Sean O’Connor

Homfray Grove


Local opinion counts little

Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities, promised: “Reform to the planning system will give neighbourhoods far more ability to determine the shape of the places in which their inhabitants live”.

Rt Hon Greg Clark MP (Minister for Planning) in National Planning Policy Framework (2012) says: “In order to fulfil its purpose, planning must not be simply about scrutiny. Planning must be a creative exercise in finding ways to enhance and improve the places in which we live”.

In recent years planning has tended to exclude rather than include people and communities.

We are allowing people and communities back in to planning.

Forty-eight letters of objection were received and a 168-name petition objected to the proposed development in its form plus representation at Planning Meeting.

Lancaster City Council Planning Committee refused permission recently. Overturned on appeal.

Localism lives. I fear not. Nothing has changed.

No wonder the Greaves residents opposed are disappointed.

Coun Woodruff

Lancaster City Council

Where is competition?

I write with frustration regarding Shell Garage at Toll Bar.

I am led to believe that the Shell Garage at Toll Bar is to be opened imminently, save for a few franchise add-ons/negotiations, yet to be finalised.

I commented to a BP Garage representative recently that I would be looking forward to the Shell Garage opening.

I highlighted that it’s about time and that I was looking forward to competitive pricing between the pair.

The response was that it was to be run by the same owner as the BP garage and that there would be no competition as the prices would be kept the same.

I have no specific problems with any owner of a petrol garage however, is there not a conflict of interest or any rule about competition here?

I know I could of course ride my bike or get a bus to avoid further petrol annoyance, however, do the public have any say in this?

Name and address supplied

Two awards delight us

The local Abbeyfield Society has been caring for elderly residents for 50 years, and this year has met the Abbeyfield Gold Star standard for the quality of its building and its staff.

This year our manager, Mrs Sheila Swan, has been given the Royal Patron’s Award for being the best in the world.

This is not just a figure of speech. She was chosen out of all the members of Abbeyfield staff from other countries as well as the UK.

There was a dinner for 300 people at which the presentations were made in Birmingham. Mrs Andrea Howson and Mrs Judith Threlfall were there to represent our management committee.

We residents are delighted.

Mary Ridley

Abbeyfield House

Aldcliffe Road


Talk views not insults

Regarding the letter from Robyn Holtham, chair of the Skerton Parents’ Forum:

I understand that there are deeply held opinions on the proposed closure of Skerton High School, and that it has aroused strong feelings in the local community, as is made clear by Ms Holtham’s letter of October 31.

I don’t intend to debate Ms Holtham’s letter point for point but I must respond to her accusation that Lancashire County Council staff were deliberately giving false information to parents at a consultation event held at the school in October.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Our staff are hard working people with high professional standards and they do their utmost to provide accurate, straightforward and clear information to parents, sometimes during difficult times.

I know feelings are running high but I hope that we can continue through this process without further serious and unfounded allegations against staff members who are simply doing their job.

Mike Hart

Director for Resources, 

and Business Services

Lancashire Council

Salt Ayre health kick

‘Leisure services expendable’, ‘City Council do not rule out closure of Salt Ayre sports centre’, ran under the heading of ‘Budget Savings’ in the Lancaster Guardian.

Would the council think even harder about closing Salt Ayre if it were to be recategorised under ‘Health and Welfare Services’, and rechristened ‘Salt Ayre Preventative Medicine Centre’, or something along those lines?

While it’s true most punters visit Salt Ayre in their leisure time, the underlying motive of many is to get and remain fit and healthy.

And of course, sporting injuries aside, fit and healthy people visit the doctor less frequently and spend less time in hospital than the unfit and healthy.

Places such as Salt Ayre save the NHS incalculable sums of money and free up access to an already overstretched health service for others .

Closing it might help the council temporarily balance its books but it would certainly cost the local health services dear.

It’s a cliché, but exercise really is the best medicine, just ask a health worker.

Richard Follows


Name and address supplied

People will struggle

Under David Cameron, Britain’s families are facing a cost of living crisis. Prices have risen faster than wages in 39 of the 40 months that David Cameron has been in Downing Street and energy bills have gone up by almost £300.

David Cameron only stands up for the privileged few.

His failure to tackle bills has meant that many people are struggling to pay them.

I know how people in Lancaster are struggling with the rising cost of living.

Many people I speak to are worried about their energy bills, and are having to make a choice between heating their homes or buying food.

When the price of energy increases energy companies pass this on but when it drops consumers don’t see their bills fall.

David Cameron can’t deal with the cost of living crisis because he stands up for a privileged few, not for ordinary families. David Cameron has cut tax for people on over £150,000 a year while raising it for everyone else.

Ed Miliband says Labour will freeze prices until the start of 2017 if Labour wins the next election.

This will save a typical household £120 a year – helping hardworking families who are facing a cost of living crisis.

Local businesses tell me that energy bills are the second largest cost that they face. Labour’s energy freeze policy will save the average business £1,800 a year, giving our small businesses the support they need at a vital time for our local economy.

Cat Smith

Labour parliamentary candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood

Who’s in charge?

After the recent traffic snarl-ups throughout Lancaster I am prompted to ask whose responsibility it is to keep traffic flowing?

It’s been many years since I saw a police constable on point duty (readers aged under 30 may have to ask their parents what this entails), so presumably this task has been delegated to some other authority. But who?

Is it the individual motorist, perhaps? The Highways Agency? The local council? Or (God forbid) the county council? Perhaps they each think it’s the other’s responsibility.

Gordon Arkwright

Thorpe Avenue