A selection of letters to the Daventry Express (February 10)
Time to rethink spending plans
WHAT a front page! ‘Buses axed as subsidy slashed’ and ‘International conference on pods rolls into town’ (February 3).
How can Daventry District Council continue to pursue this hugely expensive project while Northamptonshire County Council plans to cut services such as buses in rural communities, libraries, etc.?
The town centre may indeed be historic but few people would describe it as attractive, being almost surrounded by warehouses.
There may be some glory (for our councillors?) in being ‘cutting edge’ but the rails and flyovers needed for a pod system would only serve to further desecrate the town.
The millions of pounds required for this project could surely be better spent on retaining services we already have, investing cash into developing new services and regenerating those areas sorely in need.
If we are to show that Daventry is open for business perhaps a direct rail link to Long Buckby thus connecting Daventry to London, Birmingham and Northampton might be a more exciting proposition.
We have yet to learn the full extent of the forthcoming cuts but have already seen very alarming plans being implemented in most parts of the country.
With this in mind I scanned through the council’s expenditure – all items over £500 – and found several items that in the absence of any detailed information would appear to be questionable.
There was £14,825 for tree-planting at Nortolf (should this be Norton?) Lodge Farm to pick just one. That’s a lot of trees.
I also noticed that the glossy magazine Daventry Calling costs over £23,000.
Surely this could be dispensed with and the relevant information made available on the internet, producing a not insignificant cost saving.
Who wants a glossy magazine at the expense of some essential service under threat?
I also noticed that despite paying out £41,1672 in legal fees during the period April to November 2010 we still have to pay a monthly retainer of £12,500 to these lawyers.
Time for some contract renegotiation perhaps?
Cutbacks don’t seem to add up
I SEE from the Daventry Express that the county council is proposing to remove all subsidies from bus services in the county.
According to the council, this will save £1.4 million towards the savings it needs to find this year because of Government cuts.
Meanwhile, in the same edition, a letter from Councillor Chris Millar, chairman of the ‘West Northants Joint Planning Committee’, starts: “The West Northants Joint Planning Committee has approved to put the pre-submission draft of the joint core strategy (JCS) out to consultation, which will enable further public representations to be made...”
According to Cllr Millar, the only alternative to all this bureaucracy is “much uncertainty in the form of an unco-ordinated developer-led approach”.
Horrors! That would never do, would it?
The paper also tells us that the county is planning to close eight libraries.
Another article says that the council grant to Advice Daventry is at risk.
While the county council is trying to save some £68 million, the figures from the Government funding settlement reveal that the council’s total grant is going down by only £12.3 million – in a budget of £418 million.
The council cannot even blame all its problems on inflation – the Government has announced that council staff earning more than £21,000 are having a pay freeze this year.
While this is certainly a tight grant settlement, looking at the amount of waste that continuously takes place in the county, it is hard not to conclude that the council is choosing to cut services rather than cut the fat in its own operations.
We are talking, after all, about the county council that recently held a competition to design a poster extolling the virtues of the council, which was then distributed at local taxpayers’ expense around the county.
It certainly doesn’t feel like ‘My County Council’ to me.
Royal Star Drive, Daventry
Pods will need subsidies too
IT’S a simple question: can somebody please explain to me how councils can be talking about spending millions on a pod transport system for a small market town like Daventry, but at the same time say they are not able to continue subsidising certain bus routes?
I would like to know why they are disregarding the advice of many an expert, both in the UK and overseas, all of whom seem agreed that such pod systems are not economically viable? I really do not understand.
If there are not enough passengers to make bus routes commercially viable, how will there be enough to make a vastly more expensive pod system commercially viable?
I must be missing something – perhaps someone would care to explain this in terms we can all understand?
Mrs LJ Wurwal
Hadn’t scheme hit the buffers?
READING your page in the local about the pods made me very angry.
A meeting was held in the community centre ages ago when the scheme was roundly rejected as unsuitable for Daventry.
Terminal Five at Heathrow is where it should stay.
When DDC is making cuts in services, how come it can afford the expensive upkeep of a system which will be hardly used and will be a target for vandals?
My comments and that of my neighbours.
Mrs PA Robinson
Mr R Caira
Mrs J King,
There’s another way if buses go
THERE is a lot of doom and gloom being spread around the media currently, much of it understandable with the massive cuts being spoken of.
Transport, and particularly rural transport, is to be hit very hard with all travel subsidies being withdrawn by Northamptonshire County Council (NCC).
However, there are positive alternatives to explore with NCC which we hope will shortly take place.
Daventry Area Community Transport (DACT) is well placed to serve the rural transport needs of many people suffering the loss of transport.
However, a radical approach is required because the conventional view of government to pour thousands, even millions of pounds into subsidising unprofitable commercial bus routes will never work.
We have been making this point for many years, but every time, the same result – services are cut, because they cannot be sustained.
For a fraction of the previous subsidies, DACT could provide a long-term sustainable solution.
The Big Society has been hailed as the answer to all our problems. I have news for you, if you didn’t already know it - DACT have been ‘doing’ Big Society for the last 17 years!
The difference now, is that the Government want it to be done for free.
However, while our services are incredibly good value for money, they do not come free – there has to be some form of investment or grant funding.
We have been extremely grateful to the NCC (and Daventry District Council) for their grant support over many years, but currently we still do not know if NCC is going to give us any funding for the next financial year 2011/12.
DACT has a fleet of fully accessible minibuses, a volunteer car scheme, and a shopmobility scheme with over 160 volunteers providing 45,000 hours of volunteering to meet the needs of those who require transport.
We do not have the answer to every transport difficulty in the district, but we believe that we can make a huge difference to many who are without transport.
Targeted transport to those in isolated rural locations does not have to be at such incredibly high costs (£107 per passenger).
We have piloted a number of successful travel club schemes which serve specific villages in the district.
This is low-cost, and efficient, with no buses running unnecessarily empty around the district.
We have written to all parish councils in the district and have offered to work with them to look at possible solutions.
However, to accomplish this, we need to know if DACT will continue to receive some funding from the NCC.
We hope to receive this advice very soon so that we can effectively look at solutions to some of the rural transport difficulties which many will face in the next year and beyond.
Daventry Area Community Transport
They deserve praise not cuts
I AM writing this letter because I am outraged at the possible closure of the Citizens Advice Bureau in Daventry because of cuts in funding from Northamptonshire County Council.
I myself have had their help from 2009 because of the recession.
I ran into financial difficulty and the people there are so friendly and helpful.
The deserve a medal, not cuts in funding.
Where would people go if it did close down? Northampton or further afield?
Forget about putting money into stupid pods and put it into Citizens Advice.
Name and address
One out of two issues solved
MAY I through your newspaper publicly thank Lisa Hand and colleagues at Daventry District Council for their prompt action in removing a double bed and mattress from the grass verge in Tamar Square, Daventry.
Within hours of the problem being reported to me, and in turn my subsequent call to the council, the matter was solved.
It is worth mentioning that any instances of fly-tipping should be reported to the police and district council, after all we as residents have to live in the area.
While I had a conclusion to this event, I have been unable to resolve the matter of the condition at the entrance to the car park at Westerburg Square. The surface is a danger to motorists and pedestrians alike. Unfortunately the area is not covered by either Daventry district or Northamptonshire County Council.
Attempts to get the job done by the owners have fallen on stony ground, however I will continue the fight.
Cllr Chris Eddon
Daventry District Council
Excellent night’s entertainment
FOLLOWING your photograph and feature on the Welton Players’ production of Treasure Island we went along on February 4.
The full house – many of the audience had family taking part – soon responded to the cast’s request for audience involvement.
We were personally delighted with our family members’ contributions.
My one regret was the apparent necessity to include innuendo material to a family type audience.
Overall, it was an excellent evening’s entertainment by a most talented cast and support team.