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Slow down to save all our lives

YOUR comments about public transport, particularly buses, helping to reduce pollution are, of course, very valid, however there are many situations where cars have to be used, weekly super market shopping being one for example.

Drivers of all road vehicles can, however, reduce the pollution they cause by driving in a manner which causes the absolute minimum of fuel to be used.

The main ways of doing this are as follows:-

1 Drive a bit more slowly and allow a little more time for the journey.

2 Avoid rapid acceleration, gently increase speed.

3 Avoid hard braking, lift of the accelerator in good time, don’t wait to the last moment.

Item 1 can make a considerable difference to overall fuel usage for example driving along normal A roads, such as the A350, at 40-45 mph rather than 55-60mph can reduce the energy need by over 40%.

And driving on motorways at 65mph instead of 75mph saves about 75% Reducing energy usage directly reduces fuel usage and therefore pollution.

Item 2 & 3 again can save significant amounts of fuel, and pollution as well as reducing wear and tear to tyres and mechanical parts, brake shoes etc. saving money.

Surprisingly easier than you may think, just keep well back from the vehicle in front to give yourself time to plan ahead.

The simple message is GENTLE DRIVING SAVES LIVES.

Jim Andress, Woodbury, Bath Road, Chippenham

Vote mocks history

SAD news indeed regarding the impending closure of Larkrise and St Nicholas Special schools despite the valiant efforts of the many parents, friends and dedicated supporters of these schools to retain a distributed special needs educational provision across the county.

I was very impressed by Ms Melissa Loveday’s open letter to the Gazette and Herald on May 9 which clearly outlined the numerous concerns of many including the schools’ headteachers, governors, staff and associated parents, however, I suspect that the Cabinet members had made their final decision long before.

If the rationale behind Wiltshire Council’s SEND plans were to be applied to, say, the Fire Service or GP Surgeries/Ambulance stations then vast sums of capital outlay could be saved by the apparent centralisation. The resultant logistical problems would, no doubt, have dire consequences but there would surely be a Cabinet somewhere who would veto any sensible proposed alternative ideas.

I recall back around 1990 when the old Middlefield Special school in Hungerdown Lane Chippenham was then under the headship of the now late Mrs E.E.Weston. The site had, for many years, been considered to be unfit for purpose and eventually strings were “pulled” by Mrs. Weston at County Hall to initiate action which culminated in the construction of a brand new, purpose built Special school in Malmesbury Road Chippenham. It was to be known as St Nicholas Special school and the venture was intended to provide a “long-term” solution for the SEND requirements in Chippenham and its immediate surrounding community.

The school was officially opened on Monday 15th June 1992 by HRH The Duchess of Gloucester who commented in her speech that she was extremely impressed by the extensive buildings and by the ultra-modern facilities she had witnessed therein.

“ I’ve never seen anything quite like it” she commented.

Councillor June Wood also officiated at the opening ceremony and she had hitherto contributed greatly to the realisation of this “centre of excellence”.

Also in attendance was the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire and many other influential members of the County Council staff.

For interest only I have uploaded to You-Tube a short video clip of the opening speeches under the title Opening Ceremony of St Nicholas Special School Chippenham 15th June 1992

Many apposite comments were made by the speakers in this clip.

There has been massive support over the years for all the Special schools by way of the many fund raising events including a continuous input from the Armed Services. This added income has enabled staff to improve the facilities in these times of austerity. The hydrotherapy pool at St Nicholas is a prime example so it is very sad to accept that these efforts will have been to no long term avail.

My heart goes out to all those parents in the Chippenham and Trowbridge areas who may feel that they have been betrayed by the Council , they will lose much of the local goodwill from friends and supporters because of logistical limitations. Their children are likely to feel very remote from their parents during times of stress and anxiety.

I realise the excellent standards achieved at Rowdeford school and agree that it is set in pleasant surroundings but I am sure that many dedicated staff members and parents of pupils currently based on that site would take a dim view of having to relocate to a new development in Chippenham or Trowbridge.

The problem now is that a committee or Cabinet has apparently unanimously decided to go ahead with the intention of spending millions of pounds of our money on this new plan. They will lose face if they change tack now so they have painted themselves into a corner. That is what is now known as a democratic process.

Bob Phillips, Friend of Keep Special Schools Local Campaign

Missed opportunity

HAVING lived in Chippenham for over 60 years.I thought the powers that be may be able to make a sensible decision regarding the town.

Apart from building a bypass that goes into the town and out again at the Bridge centre, and building a skate park before removing it. They now plan to build a car park where traffic is the busiest in the area and most difficult to get to.

Surely the area that was the old bridge centre would have been an ideal setting for a circular multi storey car park.

It is already being used for parking by council workers, and looks a mess after being seeded with weeds.

Mick Fox, Chippenham

Part of the problem

MAY I just ask how the Extinction Rebellion kids would like their plastic signs and plastic cable ties they have put all over the place, disposed of once the climate has been sorted out?

Marina Lamming, Chippenham

Let verges bloom

I AM delighted to see a recent article about Somerset Council stopping cutting verges to allow wild flowers to grow. When will Wiltshire Council get its head out of the sand and follow suit, saving our wildflowers and money as well? We really need to get over the obsession with ‘tidy ‘ on an individual basis too, come on Wiltshire folk - go wild!

Perhaps a tree planting initiative might follow along those desolate stretches of verge like the link road from Hilperton to Trowbridge...

Jacqui Prior, Address supplied

Thanks for sharing

I want to thank every person in Wiltshire who joined the conversation for Dementia Action Week this year (20-26 May).

The week united workplaces, schools and communities to take action and improve the lives of people living with dementia. We all have a role to play in making Wiltshire a dementia-friendly place to live and that’s what Dementia Action Week was all about.

Local highlights included activities at Salisbury Cathedral including their silent disco and our information stand, a dementia open day at Malmesbury Abbey, dozens of Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends sessions as well as events at Salisbury Hospital and Royal Wootton Bassett library. Many of the Dementia Action Alliances and Dementia Friendly Communities across the county also held their own events to take action, and raise awareness, during the week.

Starting a conversation is just the beginning. Help us beat dementia by taking part in Cupcake Day on 13 June. Whether you bake it or fake it, you can sign up at cupcakeday.alzheimers.org.uk

Andrew Day

Alzheimer’s Society Services Manager for Wiltshire

Forest Gate, Chippenham

Misery in Calne

WAS it a wise decision for Wiltshire Council to close the only remaining public toilets in Calne? I think not! It was apparent during the recent Duck Race that there are not enough toilets in Calne to meet demand, particularly at busy events.

The only toilets remaining in Calne Town Centre now being in either in Sainsbury supermarket, local pubs and cafes. As Council Tax payers living in a civilised community, we should be able to access a public toilet 24 hours a day.

If for example on Sunday after 4pm a visitor to the town needs the toilet, they are obliged to visit a public house, which for some is not a thing they like or choose to do. This does not promote local tourism.

Indeed on route home from the pub on a Saturday night after closing, there are no facilities to use at all. It seems most other small towns still have at least one public toilet except for Calne. What are we to in Calne do, urinate and defeacate in the streets, like people have to do in less developed countries?

Also, how long do the residents and visitors of Calne have to look at half dead Polyanthus languishing in the plastic planters around Calne Town Centre? We know that Britain and indeed Calne in Bloom in just around the corner but did Calne Town Council have to subject us to week after week of increasing depressed bedding plants.

With the risk of late frost diminishing by the day, lets hope that we are to be blessed with a marvellous display of fresh planting soon, ahead of this year’s competition judging, as in other years but in 2020 lets keep Calne in Bloom for more of the year please!

Tim Hayter, Calne

Listen to Greens

THE European election results have generally been seen as a test of the electorate’s views on Brexit. Votes for the Brexit party and the remain parties show, if nothing else, that the country is still very divided.

However, much more of a change for the long term is the increased support for the Green Party. Those focussing, logically, on Brexit will tend to vote for the Brexit Party or the Lib Dems. The Green Party vote, following recent high profile environmental campaigns, increased their vote as global warming, carbon emissions, ocean plastic and the future of our planet shows that the green agenda is resonating with the public.

The so called ‘mainstream parties’ would be well advised to listen to this increasingly loud voice and embrace the environmental agenda. Brexit will get resolved one way or another eventually but the change in politics as more people become aware and focussed on the dangers facing our planet will push the environment to the top of the political agenda for the next decade and beyond.

Andy Smith

Chippenham

Open letter to MP

DEAR Dr Murrison, I’ve no doubt that you along with your parliamentary colleagues will all be receiving some form of contact from constituents following the Panorama programme & I do hope that you too, watched it.

If you did, then you, along with ALL MPs should be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves for allowing this disgraceful situation to get out of hand & to this extent.

I hold each & every MP & Lord or Lady equally responsible as for far too many years, the problem has been overlooked, whilst many other far less important items have been funded to the detriment of basic care of the people whom you are all supposed to serve & care for.

If there truly is a shortage of money then it is time to take a careful look at the priorities upon which PUBLIC money is to be spent.

Let me give you just five examples of where money could be saved & better utilized on Social Care:-

1. Drastically reduce the numbers in the House of Lords, you’ve been talking about it for years, say by 50% & you tell me how much that would save annually?

2. Cancel HS2, that would save on current estimates some £54billion & in reality, probably double that. We cannot afford this type of project, neither do we need it.

3. Locally, stop the ridiculous & totally unwarranted proposal to tunnel the A303 past Stonehenge, for a saving of £1.6billion.

4. Again locally, stop Wiltshire Council promoting the replacement of three special needs schools with ONE, at a cost of £20million.

5. Wiltshire Council should also look at drastically reducing the number of councillors, by at least 50% for saving of £1million annually.

Why is it that England has less, a THIRD LESS, per capita spent on care, as compared with Wales & Scotland?

If you & the Conservative party wish to be seriously considered for government again, you need to address this funding problem as a matter of urgency, along with Education, Health (the NHS) & Social Services as the main priority. Lead by example.

Philip Withers, Trowbridge

Save our wildflowers

I WOULD like to follow on from Dr Nick Maurice’s letter lamenting the premature cutting of the cuckoo flowers at the side of the A4 near Marlborough.

A similar thing happens every summer a mile or two along the same road, just west of Manton.

Here, a wide verge covered with a glorious display of meadow cranesbill is prematurely razed to the ground right back as far as the hedge.

Cutting is never left late enough for the flowers to set seed, regardless of the fact that, for most of this width, they could not be said to form a traffic hazard.

It is ironic that this should regularly occur within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty along the edge of a main road to a World Heritage Site.

Such actions demonstrate insensitivity to widespread concern over dwindling bee populations and shrinking biodiversity. They impoverish both the countryside and the spirit.

In the case of the meadow cranesbill, Wiltshire Council and/or the relevant highway authority need to recognise their responsibility for the well-being of the area’s ecology and act on it.

By leaving wildflowers time to seed they might even find they save money.

Fay Ross-Magenty, Lockeridge

Farewell Giovanni

IT WAS sad to hear of the recent passing of Giovanni Campella, known to everyone as Gianni, master baker, restaurateur and friend to all. His warmth and humility were legendary in te town. He will be missed - but we have our memories.

My friend and I, in anticipation of a forthcoming Italian holiday some years ago, decided to learn some basic Italian and, when dining at Gianni’s restaurant, asked him if we might try out the most basic question of all - “dore la gabinetta della donne?” “Bella!” he beamed, and directed us to the Ladies. Our attempt was halting, to say the least, but he appreciated that we had tried.

When he was featured in Terry Wogan’s TV programme about Devizes, Gianni demonstrated his Devizes Cheesecake. Marion and I bought some and enjoyed it alfresco, in the garden adjacent to the Town Hall. Delicious!

We lunched at Dolcipani a few weeks ago. Giovanni looked ill, but he was his usual friendly self, bustling about, serving customers with food, beverages - and smiles.

A friend recently described him as a wonderful human being. A fitting epitaph for you, Gianni!

Mrs Pauline St John Osland, Downlands Road, Devizes

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