Letters to the Mercury - 11 March 2011

Clothing sale success

I would like to thank everyone who supported our annual Good as New Clothing Sale at Barnsdale Lodge Hotel over the weekend.

We are delighted to have raised £38,000 to date, with some final accounting still to take place.

Once again we have many people to thank including, Hambleton Hall, John Porters Dry Cleaners, Ron Grant Removals, Barnsdale Lodge. Without the support of these businesses and the many helpers and of course supporters of Macmillan who attend our sale each year we could never achieve such a wonderful sum of money, which makes such a difference to the lives of so many ‘living with cancer’.

Thank you to everyone involved

Elizabeth Mills

Chairman, Rutland Macmillan Cancer Support, Ashwell

Glory days on railways

I WAS so pleased to read that Network Rail is to be broken up and split into three or four regional companies run by a managing director, the object to bring them closer to the train operator customers’ requirements.

In the light of the heavy freight traffic on our motorways and roads, and deaths caused, we should do everything we can to improve the rail system including restarting the railways that ran from Stamford to Belmesthorpe, Essendine, Bourne, Spalding then on to the east coast ports.

As a result of the recent trouble caused by the Middle East crisis oil prices will go on rising until people will not be able to afford to run a car, especially the gas-guzzlers, and rail transport must fill the gap which will be caused.

People, who have been made redundant and others who would like to take their families to the east coast would be able to.

The railways used to pick up in Stamford run through to Belmesthorpe then on to Essendine then on to Bourne, Spalding then go on to the east coast. They were not only able to cater for passengers, but also more importantly take light freight.

Although I am an engineer and owned my own engineering company, I have little knowledge of the latest systems, but I believe that it should be possible to put solar panels on to the roofs of trains, as I believe the Japanese have done, with each station equipped to take electric chargers.

The other thing that the national politicians did –closing Rutland County Council and transferring over to Leicestershire – meant that Rutland lost its character and my brother Dennis became the last High Sheriff of Rutland on Tuesday, June 2, 1970.

Thank goodness Rutland has regained its original character and I’m delighted to see, has appointed a new High Sheriff, and I’m very glad to see a woman taking over all the responsibilities that go with the new job.

I think because of its size, Rutland County Council is one of the most efficient councils in the UK and has delightful personnel.

JAMES PLAYER

New Road, Ryhall

Reasoned arguments?

I have examined the planning officers’ latest recommendations regarding Sainsbury’s application to build a supermarket and filling station in Oakham.

This is a public document, and it is right that it should be scrutinised.

Officers have argued against the application by referencing decisions by other authorities and inspectors – however it appears that these may not be as relevant as officers suggest.

Regarding “loss of employment land”, officers have listed applications in Manchester and East Yorkshire where appeals have failed. However in both cases these included giving up employment land for residential use. This is not part of the Sainsbury’s plan and could be seen as irrelevant.

Regarding the “sequential assessment” officers mention APP/M0933/A/09/2101381 in Cumbria; however I have a copy of the inspector’s report which states that: “There are no available, suitable and viable sequentially preferable sites that could accommodate the whole or a substantial proportion of the proposed development.” The appeal was dismissed for traffic flow reasons – not for sequential reasons.

So how is this decision relevant to Sainsbury’s?

They also mention case KET/2009/0734 in Desborough. However in this case the council was actively seeking to release available premises in the town centre for retail use, with a disused depot opposite that was suitable for a petrol filling station. Is there such a situation available in Oakham? I think not!

Regarding “saved policies” mention is made of an application in Louth – however this was for a relatively small Lidl convenience store, not a large supermarket, and it was accepted that another site was available where a store approximately that size would fit.

Officers put great weight on reference GFA/21203, however the Planning Inspectorate’s online service today states this is subject to a planning appeal, with no final decision on the application. Is it safe to recommend a decision by referencing an unresolved appeal?

These examples seem nothing like the fact-based reasoned arguments residents have a right to expect, and it would be interesting to hear a planning inspector’s verdict if this ever went to appeal.

“All smoke and mirrors”, perhaps?

Alan Walters

Queens Road, Oakham

Review on parking

I would like to respond to the letter last week from Susan Gorman, of Stamford Road.The council is very much aware of the

parking issues in Stamford Road and it will be one of the first tasks of the new council (post election) to conduct a thorough parking review of Oakham.

It’s important that every aspect of parking in the town is taken into account as not doing so will simply move the problem from one area to another.

I would envisage the new council speaking to local residents, town centre businesses and local schools.

In the meantime I would encourage anybody who travels into Oakham to visit the travel4rutland.co.uk web-site which is an online car sharing database.

It can match you up with people carrying out a similar journey, saving you money on petrol and car parking.

I would also like to highlight some of the discounts available for regular users of Oakham car parks. Discounted tickets are available from the pay and display machines on the long stay car parks at just £8 for weekly parking (Monday to Friday) or £9.50 (Monday to Saturday).

Regular users of the car parks can buy a year-long season ticket for use on all long stay car parks which costs £350 (Monday to Friday) or £410 (Monday to Saturday, Catmose on Saturdays only) or, for use on Westgate car park only, £320 (Monday-Friday) and £370 (Monday-Saturday).

Janine Rodger

County councillor and cabinet portfolio holder for regulatory services, Rutland County Council, Catmose, Oakham

Wind farm concerns

Re: Woolfox wind farm plans. I attended the exhibition put on by SSE Renewables to highlight its plans to build 22 wind turbines of 135 metres tip height between the villages of Exton, Stretton, Clipsham and Pickworth.

The impact on the landscape will, self evidently, be enormous.

Each structure is more than 20 metres higher than St Paul’s Cathedral and will be seen for miles around.

The amenity value of the bridleways and footpaths will be transformed for their many users including walkers, riders and cross country cyclists.

The list of the detrimental effects goes on and one hopes that the due process now being entered into to assess the overall environmental and social costs and benefits will be conducted objectively.

However on this point I am not optimistic. SSE wants to work with the community and, it states, keep them informed.

However here are some examples of what that ‘transparency’ entailed in a meeting at the exhibition with the project manager;

They showed us a diagram of distances from masts to homes. In the case of Pickworth the nearest home was about 1.4 km away. In the exhibition it states 2.1 km. I consider this misleading.

They would not give us copies of the “distance” diagrams.

They presented as a “Government directive” a guideline on House of Commons letterhead, but when challenged it was a document lodged in the House of Commons library rather than a directive.

They apologised for being misleading.

They are not interested in working with the community to explore other options such as solar energy

They said they did not know the amount of the planning fee from which the council can pay for independent consultants – despite the fact that the person we were speaking to was in charge of the budget.

They said the noise would be below recommended levels but would not be prepared to provide a warranty to that effect.

They do not yet know how the turbines will be connected to the grid.

However it will either go to the substation at Empingham or Oakham and it is likely this will involve overhead cables.

Nor would they provide a financial projection.

SSE will be undertaking much of the environmental impact assessment with in-house teams.

With such selective information being supplied it is vital that independent studies are carried out to challenge any findings objectively and critically.

Sir Richard Rowley

Pickworth

Doubt we’ll hear the truth

Oh no, not again! Last time it was red, this time it is blue.

Last time weapons of mass destruction, this time chemical weapons.

Both times our respons-ibility for the oppressed. Both times the evil dictator.

Both times pompous politicians trying not to mention their previous support and weapon sales to the dictator.

On neither occasion little mention of oil.

Oil production has peaked and governments around the world are desperate to ensure continued supplies, because our economy is so reliant on oil.

Do we expect any honesty this time about this?

We did not get it last time and I doubt if we will this.

The excuse for war will, as last time, be the dangerous dictator and the need for democracy, with all its faults, whether it is right for that region or not.

Just a thought! We knew where yellow stood last time, as yet, I have heard nothing this time?

A coalition breaker in the making?

George Hetherington

Kettering Road, Stamford