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Toast one answer to food waste

ON A visit to a local supermarket I saw a banner stating that 24 million slices of bread are thrown away every day in the UK. I was quite surprised by this.

Haven’t these people heard of toast? I can’t imagine why you would throw any food away, but bread in particular is so easy to use up, even if it has gone a bit stale.

Apart from toast, there’s fried bread, Welsh rarebit, bread and butter pudding, or my favourite - bread pudding made with dried fruit and spices. If the odd bit of crust does hide in the bottom of the bread bin and go really mouldy soak it in water and put it out for the birds, they will appreciate it.

The supermarket displaying the banner recommends keeping your bread in the freezer and just using what you need, but I don’t think frozen bread is anywhere as nice. Bring on the toast.

JULIE SILCOX, Spirthill, Calne

Action needed now

AS councils up and down the land, including Wiltshire, declare a ‘climate emergency’ we need to see action at all levels. There is much we can do as individuals and as families to reduce our carbon footprints. Local councils can help too, by recycling more waste; supporting public transport, cycling and walking; by additional tree planting etc.

But it is only through central Government policies and actions that we will be able to meet the ambitious targets that are needed to transform the U.K. to a zero carbon economy.

It could, for example, be made mandatory for every new building to be fitted with solar panels. And for all new houses to have electric vehicle charging points installed.

A quick win, that would be popular too (Clare Perry MP please note), would be to ban fracking.

A nationwide programme to retrofit home insulation would radically reduce the energy we use, and lose, heating our homes; as well as creating many new jobs.

As a country we need to invest much more in public transport, to provide viable alternatives to car use.

In recent months urgent concern about climate change has moved rapidly up the political agenda. Many of us feel that if the Government does not act now, it will be too late.

JOHN BOALER, Chairman, Calne Branch Labour Party, Woodland Park, Calne

Brexit queue clue

CAN I congratulate the team of traffic engineers who came up with scheme to sort out the problem at the junction with Park Lane, Malmesbury Road, New Road and Langley Road in Chippenham.

The queue in Park Lane at peak times is surely down to Brexit and nothing to do with the new road layout.

REX BALL, Church View, Sutton Benger

Historical reference

I REALISED only recently that Shakespeare had referred, albeit briefly, to Devizes in Henry V: “Once more unto The Breach, dear friends, once more.”

BILL SADLEIR

St John’s Court

Devizes

Make May purple

ACROSS the country thousands of people will Make May Purple for stroke and we’d love to invite your readers to join in the fun.

When stroke strikes, part of your brain shuts down. And so does a part of you. That’s because a stroke happens in the brain, the control centre for who we are and what we can do. Recovery is tough, but with the right specialist support and a ton of courage and determination, the brain can adapt.

The Stroke Association rebuilds lives and with your help we can support even more stroke survivors.

It couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is wear purple in May, and every penny you raise will help us support stroke survivors.

You can wear purple to work, or at community event – wherever you are, we’re asking you to turn all your activities purple during the month of May. Whether that means wearing purple for a month or a day, or hosting a dress down day at work,

You can go as purple as you want, so why not host a purple party with purple food - think blackcurrant squash, blueberry tea and beetroot salad; go purple with a dress down day in your office; hold a purple bake sale and play purple games; sponsor your boss to dress head to toe in purple for the day.

Get more purple inspiration and find out how you can have fun while helping stroke survivors on our website www.stroke.org.uk.

Whatever you do to raise funds, it really makes a difference to stroke survivors.

JOANNA MCGUINNESS, Head of Regional Fundraising, Stroke Association

Is it Farage’s time?

IN the 2017 general election we were told by the right wing press & some politicians that over 80% of voters cast their votes for the 2 main parties because of their stance on Brexit. Just not true. The majority of people always vote on their usual party lines not one issue.

The recent local elections showed a very large swing to parties with anti Brexit views.

Now the right wing press & certain politicians tell us that this swing to more sensible parties is somehow telling the Government to get on with Brexit??

Incredible how they expect us to believe this twisting of the facts.

Sadly, if we do have European elections later this month Mr Farage will have his time in the limelight & do well. After all he does speak with the loudest voice.

I still firmly hope that we can remain in the EU. Either way another chance for people to vote again on the facts not fiction is essential . If the vote is for leave again I promise that will say no more on the issue because,at least, people will have a clearer idea of the consequences.

GARY HUNT, Chippenham

Help to save lives

THE UK’s leading meningitis charity is calling for those who have suffered from the viral form of the disease to Make Viral Visible to help dispel myths and misconceptions that this form of the disease is not dangerous and always ‘mild’.

Meningitis Now’s seventh annual Viral Meningitis Week, running until May 12, seeks to raise awareness to inform the public, health professionals and employers about the true impact of the disease and the long-term problems it can bring.

Expert opinion suggests up to 6,000 people each year across the UK suffer from viral meningitis, an infection that causes inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and the spinal cord. The majority of cases happen during the warmer months.

It’s vital that everybody understands how serious viral meningitis can be and that those suffering it, and their families and friends who are also affected, are not afraid to speak out about it and seek the support they need.

For our Viral Meningitis Week we’re calling on everyone to Make Viral Visible – and help raise awareness by talking about the disease.

The charity has pledged to continue to raise awareness about viral meningitis and provide support for sufferers through its new Rebuilding Futures Fund, which offers financial, practical and emotional support for people of all ages affected by meningitis.

Symptoms of viral meningitis can include a severe headache, a dislike of bright lights, neck stiffness, nausea, vomiting and confusion. The disease can affect anyone of any age.

Meningitis Now is urging anyone concerned about viral meningitis to seek medical help.

Research carried out by the charity details the far-reaching impact of viral meningitis, often dismissed as a less serious disease than bacterial meningitis.

Debilitating after-effects were just as likely to affect people’s day-to-day activities as were those from bacterial meningitis, turning their emotional and economic lives upside down and stealing their ability to learn, play and work.

After-effects include exhaustion, headaches, memory loss, depression, anxiety and hearing difficulties. Many sufferers have to take long periods off education or work, and struggle with the day-to-day tasks that most people take for granted.

The charity has free viral meningitis factsheets, providing more information for patients, health professionals and employers. They can be found on the website at www.meningitisnow.org.

If you have been affected by viral meningitis or would like more information, visit www.meningitisnow.org or contact the helpline on 0808 80 10 388

DR TOM NUTT, Chief Executive, Meningitis Now

Anti-plastic fight

AFTER our Mass Unwrap outside Sainsbury’s on Friday, we had a very successful event on Saturday with a full day of activities.

The Town Council chamber hosted the Morsbags team who spent the day converting old shirts, curtains etc into Morsbags, which are strong reusable shopping bags.

In the Corn Exchange there were stalls including Calne Men’s Shed, Calne River Clean up, River Warriors and the Calne Clean Up Team.

Wiltshire Wildlife showed people how to use simple ingredients to make body scrubs, cosmetics and beeswax wraps to replace clingfilm. There were also stalls selling environmentally friendly household cleaners.

Upstairs we made bead, cakes and jam for everyone to share. Tesco provided a box of fruit and vegetables that were past their sell by date which we used to make soup for lunch. We handed out over ripe bananas for people to make banana bread.

In the afternoon sewers redesigned preloved cloths into new items including transforming an old shirt into a cushion cover and an embellished pencil case.

Outside there were Big Litter Picks going on throughout the day.

At the end of the event we all met together for tea and cakes while we listened to Dr David Waltham’s talk about global warming. We heard about the things we can all do to help reduce the rate of the predicted climate increase.

CLLR GLENIS ANSELL, Calne Town Mayor

MPs should pay bill

THE country voted to leave the EU and here we are years later and after wasting millions of pounds on phantom ferry contracts and compensation payments etc.

If this happened in industry i feel the culprits would be long gone but in government they blunder on. The Prime Minister keeps telling us she is right and all other members of parliament are wrong.

As for the deal with the EU two Brexit secretaries who were trying to do deals both resigned, why? As for the opposition parties in parliament they certainly do not inspire me and now we are to waste more money on more elections for the European Parliament, I think the members of the government should pay out of their personal pockets.

With hospitals and schools having to rely on charities to get money for equipment why don’t they get on with it and give the people what they voted for.

ROBERT KNIGHT, Submitted via email

An open letter

AFTER what felt like a positive meeting between parents and friends of St Nicholas and Larkrise schools and Wiltshire Council’s commissioning officers on 3 April, we were surprised to hear from other parents and fellow campaigners that, during your consultation meeting on 5 April, you were still very much plugging your rural one-school model, using skewed statistics and unfair comparisons in order to try to influence stakeholders.

Our impression from you was that rather than covering old ground, these meetings were intended to generate new and fresh ideas in order to consult on constructive solutions and alternative options to address the lack of special school places provided by Wiltshire Council.

As news of this consultation meeting spreads amongst key stakeholders, namely those families whose vulnerable children will have 7+ years of schooling remaining from 2023, more if you include Post 16+ provision, I feel it is my duty to convey to you that the brewing resentment felt towards Wiltshire Council is reaching an all-time high.

There is a real danger that, rather than ‘fostering good working relationships with families’, as you stated was your aim in settling the legal case against you, you will achieve the exact opposite - with spectacular results - should you continue with your short-sighted, short-term plan for the future prospects of our children.

We understand that you hold a preference for the one-school option, to which you are entitled, as it meets a lot of your own criteria. However, there are a number of boxes which this model simply does not tick for school governors, parents and children. For us, the heavily weighted boxes must include:

l social and community inclusion

l ensuring children with vulnerable health needs are within reasonable distance of an A&E department and other health risks are considered

l an accurately calculated transport model (note your data claims that Rowdeford students will save 986 minutes in transport time with a new school at Rowdeford, which is clearly oxymoronic; your data does not seem to include those not currently using transport and will have to; and your data does not show how the number of children who can walk/be pushed to school will be significantly reduced)

l improved access to education for disabled students (let’s face it: education professionals agree that long journeys are not conducive to learning for even typical students, let alone those with disabilities, as they arrive fatigued before their school day has even begun).

l Advancement of equality of opportunity

l Parental choice

l School size

l Access by public transport if Wiltshire Council is meant to mitigate against environmental impact and encourage parental engagement/access for meetings, events, illness

So while we formulate our own ideas and SEND vision for Wiltshire, our question for you is:

l What alternative options have you generated that better meet stakeholders’ needs?

l What new ideas have you analysed, in as much d

epth as the one-school option, that you can present to us for consultation? We appreciate you will have a much greater understanding of the parameters and resources at the council’s disposal and we do not have your knowledge and expertise for what is financially viable in formulating these plans.

However, just as climate change activists campaigning to reduce the use of plastic cannot be held responsible for developing recyclable alternatives, as they are not scientists - you will appreciate that, although through our campaigning we can make suggestions, it is up to YOU to devise provision that meets the needs of our young people - utilising our input.

At the full Wiltshire Council meeting on 26 February, the two schools submitted their individual petitions, including more than 7,500 signatures each, for ‘debate’ (although your definition of this is debatable in itself). There the Council voted on and agreed that Wiltshire Council would receive the petitions and ‘a response given that demonstrates a meaningful engagement’.

I sincerely ask that you adhere to this motion as we have tried every reasonable avenue to gain your attention and to help you understand why your plans will not work and must be changed. If the one-school option is what is proposed to Cabinet once again, we will be forced to challenge it by any and all means necessary, including but not limited to legal action.

I am sure both parties will agree this is very costly for all involved, both financially and psychologically, and only further delays education provision for the most vulnerable children in our county.

The consultation period ended on 6 May, which technically only adds up to 16 full working days, when it was agreed it would be extended by four weeks. Guidance suggests that any consultation is run during term time and you will appreciate the Easter Holidays is a time for families, but also when we become carers 24/7 and have other siblings at home, don’t be surprised if the bulk of information provided by stakeholders is submitted to you at the 11th hour.

We understand that there is a rescheduled Cabinet meeting to discuss special schools on 22 May. Should you wish to submit a report and a proposal for Cabinet’s consideration, we understand this must be published 10 working days prior, which would take us to 8 May.

Any court in the land would agree that one full working day from the end of the consultation period to the publication of a full report, is not adequate time to collate and analyse all of the responses and to investigate and analyse all proposals put forward by stakeholders. This is not due consideration.

If you haven’t done so already, we implore you to seek independent legal advice on how to meet statutory guidance. In particular, you must go back and check that any proposal will meet your legal obligations, including your Public Sector Equality of Duty, and ensure you have a robust Equality Impact Statement.

Furthermore, Guidance suggests that when proposals are linked, such as amalgamating schools, the Schools Adjudicator is the decision maker, not the local authority. Attempting to skirt this issue will only cause you problems down the line.

To date, the underlying data that you agreed would be provided to parents has not been forthcoming; specifically the data that will show the 20% of journeys with significant increases in travel times and how many students will fail the 45-minute maximum transport guidance.

Where is the information that was promised on the possible use of the former Law Courts in Chippenham as a redeveloped special school site? What is your response to the points raised during the consultation period of 9 Jan-31 March, for instance the need for wider wheelchair-accessible pavements in Rowde, and the numerous other questions raised? Where are the full replies to our questions submitted prior to the Cabinet meeting in November? Refusing to answer our questions and concerns by ignoring us undermines any trust between parents, families, staff and governors and the council.

Stop ignoring us.

First, you ignored headteachers, governors and staff when they formulated plans to help you improve and expand provision across Wiltshire; then you ignored the Wood Report and your own SEND Task Group’s recommendations; next you ignored the 72% of people who responded to the pre-publication consultation in the summer of 2018 who voted for the development of three special schools in North Wiltshire.

As campaigners, we have organised petitions and protests, lobbied councillors, had this issue debated in Parliament by MPs, gained media coverage across local papers, radio, BBC Points West and ITV West Country, and launched a legal challenge to which you conceded. What more must we do to get you to listen to us, the governors, parents and carers who are the key stakeholders for children with special needs?

For a long time, we have thought ‘surely if they could understand our children and what they need to achieve, they will be able to see that a one-school option at Rowdeford is illogical and actually institutionalisation and discrimination by any other name,’ but we are now beginning to think that this isn’t the case: is the truth simply that you do not care? That money comes before people?

While we understand that budgets are tight, that burden should not be shouldered by already hard-pressed families. Why should our children simply take what they are given or have any less right to an appropriate education to reach their true potential than any other child?

If there is not enough money to provide what is needed for SEND provision, then it is your duty to put pressure on central government to supply it or to consider your other budget headings. It is just a matter of priorities.

At the moment, we are a large group of families, carers and school governors, representing our wider SEND community, who have become advocates and campaigners, spurred on by our passionate understanding of our children’s needs; and the council’s one-school-fits-all model is not it. We feel this in every fibre of our being.

So, despite the considerable strain and toll it is taking on families already pushed to breaking point given their disabled children’s needs, we will continue to fight for what is right.

But this comes at a price: at the moment we are passionate campaigners, but it won’t be long before we are forced into becoming angry activists.

Please help us in shaping a proposal that can be agreed not just by Cabinet, but by families who are directly affected by these decisions and will have to endure the consequences of them for the rest of their lives.

You have an extraordinary opportunity here to create a far-reaching SEND strategy for the whole of Wiltshire, from 0-25 years, and not just a sticking plaster for the short term.

Let’s create something that will meet the needs of ALL children, that will improve their outcomes into adulthood and enable them to reach their full potential.

MELISSA LOVEDAY, On behalf of the Keep Special Schools Local Campaign, Wiltshire SEND Action

Make it or fake it

I’M calling on the people of Wiltshire to throw a Blooming Great Tea Party this June. The money you raise will ensure Marie Curie’s support line is there for anyone affected by a terminal illness.

The charity has recently added clinical support to the service, which means people from anywhere in the country can speak to a Marie Curie Nurse, whether they have a terminal illness or are concerned for a loved one who does.

MEL GIEDROYC, Marie Curie

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