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Plea to switch off new lights

As was reported in last week’s Gazette, the new traffic lights at the top of Park Lane and the Hathaway Retail Centre in Chippenham are causing much more traffic mayhem than was experienced before those lights were installed.

Now for most of the day, vehicles coming into town continue to queue all the way along Marshfield Road and up the Bristol Road. Traffic is crawling along those sections of road and also up Park Lane throwing out large volumes of obnoxious and dangerous exhaust fumes which are inhaled by the residents of the houses on that route. Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent on this questionable scheme yet there are now more hold ups and longer queues for motorists and a serious deterioration in the environment for those who live along these roads.

I noticed that during the few days between the switching off of the temporary traffic lights and when the permanent lights were switched on the traffic flowed much quicker and more smoothly. I suggest that those responsible for the present chaos switch off the new lights for several days to see whether that will improve traffic flow. In Swindon millions was spent on new traffic lights at both the Mannington Roundabout and the Bruce Street Roundabout. It didn’t take long for those responsible to notice that their new schemes also did not work. Now, for most of the day, those lights are switched off when traffic usually flows with fewer tail backs than when the lights were working. It is only at peak times that those lights are turned on. Maybe those at County Hall, responsible for the new traffic lights at the top of Park Lane, can learn a lesson from Swindon?

Alan Scotford, Marshfield Road, Chippenham

RAF welfare help experiment in Calne

On the 3rd June at the Calne Community Hub the Calne Branch will be working with other agencies and be available to help anyone who has served in the RAF and other armed forces.

The RAF Association has a membership of 74.000 people, has over 350 branches around the country and is a membership, comrade and welfare-based charity.

We are in the TOP 10 for single service charities.

We are hoping that on Monday 3rd June we will have qualified branch members to help and advice on a wide range of problems from pointing you in the right way for help, offering Befriender Volunteers to chat with you.

Our three Volunteers are all qualified to help with welfare problems.

In the last year we have had or helped 85.000 members and their families, we are here to help and support.

We work closely with RBL, RAF Ben Fund, SSAFA, Help for Heroes along with many more.

On 3rd June we will be there in the Library Monday morning from 10.00 to 13.00hrs .

Two of the volunteers have undertaken the Mental Health First Aid course and two of us are caseworkers.

All our volunteers are certified.

Initially we will be there on the 1st and 4th (29th May).

Please do come along and meet up with Geoff, Michelle and Hilary.

Look out for the table with RAF Association.

This is an experiment which if it works will rolled out through the UK.

Geoff Bridgman, Secretary, Calne RAF Association

Sensible approach to economy working

The latest UK jobs figures were announced this week and it’s great to see Wiltshire and the South West continue to lead the way.

The main takeaways, nationally, are that the employment rate is at a joint record high, the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since 1974, there are more women in work than ever before and average weekly earnings have increased by 3.3% in the last year.

Encouragingly for us, the South West has the highest employment rate (79.6%) of any UK region as well as the lowest unemployment rate (2.4%).

Wiltshire has seen some very positive figures. For example, Chippenham (37%), North Wiltshire (34%), Devizes (31%) and South West Wiltshire (28%) are among the areas that have seen big drops in the number of people claiming key out-of-work benefits since 2010.

This shows the government’s reforms and sensible approach to the economy are working.

It’s important to remember that behind every employment number is a person whose self-esteem, mental wellbeing, economic circumstances and life chances are all vastly improved by being in the workplace.

Peter Booth, Chairman, South West Conservatives

Cut flowers are cut down before prime

Anyone who drives out of or into Marlborough on the A4 to/from Hungerford will notice every spring a glorious array of blue flowers on a patch of grass at the Grand Avenue entrance to Savernake Forest.

These are cuckoo flowers and like the bird (which by the way is singing magnificently in the forest at the moment), herald the arrival of spring and for many people arouse wonder and cheer.

Imagine the shock horror this year to find that this completely innocent piece of grass, and the flowers about to bloom, which are in no way interfering with traffic, were mown.

It would be good to know who was responsible and why the decision was taken to destroy a lovely, albeit small, piece of our local landscape.

Dr Nick Maurice, London Road, Marlborough

Searching for family of Wellington pilot

I am trying to contact the family of the late Flight Lieutenant Oliver Rayner Matheson RAFVR DFC who I believe lived in the Winsley area.

There is an oak hymn number board in St Nicholas’s church in Winsley that is dedicated to his memory.

During the war Pilot Officer Oliver Matheson served in 75(New Zealand) Squadron RAF.

It was during this time he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross along with Pilot Officer Eric Fowler.

My late father, Pilot Officer Edward Wilcox, had been a commercial artist before the war, and flew as his air gunner on several occasions.

It was he who painted the nose-art of a soda siphon squirting bombs on their Wellington bomber.

A publicity photograph was taken of then Pilot Officers Matheson and Fowler which appeared in national newspapers in the UK and New Zealand.

As a consequence the nose-art of Wellington bomber, R1162, has become exceptionally well known throughout the aviation world and is regarded as being iconic.

I would very much like to make contact with any of his relatives in order that I can share some of the photographs and other information that I have.

My email address is

Michael Wilcox

Schools decision a foregone conclusion

By the time this letter is published, if it is published, the underhandedness of Wiltshire Council will become more apparent.

Regardless of what they said - and they were going to have meaningful discussions with parent groups - they are going to approve the move to put all three special schools under one roof at Rowdeford.

As usual, the problems for those with disabilities will be completely ignored, as will the voices of the parents who can see the vast amount of problems ahead.

When these children with a vast array of learning difficulties reach the age of eighteen Wiltshire Council will have no responsibilities for them, as they are currently making underhanded cutbacks to the vulnerable adults budget again, which is an easy target to cut back.

Perhaps if Wiltshire Council stopped wasting taxpayers money on political ideology there would be enough to go round.

Good luck to the parents and carers in their battle with the council.

The council have already made their minds up as to what is happening.

They are no doubt prepared to fight the parents and carers, knowing that they will get their own way in the end, regardless of cost to the taxpayer.

Tony Fellenor, Farleigh Close, Chippenham

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