Chron Letters: January 24

Ambulance hubs plan ‘inadequate’

I write regarding the forthcoming Ambulance Station closures. Trimming down the operations to only two hubs at Kettering and Northampton is totally inadequate. Surely the Wellingborough/Rushden area are worthy of a hub, perhaps at Hardwick, Little Irchester or even at the forthcoming Rushden Lakes development.

As yet, none has given any indication where operating hubs either side of Northamptonshire will be. Will these feature as part of Northamptonshire’s cover?

The current EMAS provisions are far from adequate. The service hasn’t expanded as the county has become more populated and, too often, ambulances are “unavailable” because of unloading problems at hospitals. Two incidents of elderly ladies laying in the gutter for over an hour, one in Kettering, one in Earls Barton, is totally unacceptable. The ambulance service are stretched to the limits, this is without any major incidents.

Saving lives should always be a number one priority (NOT saving money) although too often operating funding is never enough. I don’t feel that roadside parking bays are a good idea. Ambulance crews deserve better, especially when they have a break, if indeed they get one these days!!

I hope not too many people will be inconvenienced when their call is in a queue for response, try to say safe (and avoid EMAS).

I don’t agree with the Fire & Rescue Service doing first aid, as I believe this could put lives in danger. Where a fire crew is “unavailable” and another crew is called to respond, by which time a small fire could well become an inferno.

There’s too much trimming and cutting costs and providing a substandard service, but I suppose the closure programme decision has already been made irrespective of public consultation.

Darren Dixon

Northampton Road

Cutting pay for recruits

is divisive

I’m concerned by the announcement that salaries for police recruits are to be slashed. I fear that the £4,000 cut in starting salaries will turn out to be yet another divisive and damaging policy, put out by the leadership in haste for the rest of the Party to repent at leisure. It’s not that the police service isn’t in need of reform, in fact the great majority of people would agree that it’s long overdue. But starting salaries seems an odd place to focus the lens of austerity.

The real problems in the police force aren’t at the lower levels. A £23,000 salary is not, to my mind, outrageous for a new recruit. No, the real problems lie further up the hierarchy. The Labour years of government saw a massive swelling of the top and middle of the police pyramid and the introduction of bureaucracy to an unprecedented level. Everything was about targets, which meant that most police work turned into an exercise in filling out paperwork and manipulating figures. Middle-managers abounded.

That’s what really needs reforming. We need to go back to a culture of real police work, not pen-pushing. Now, there are moves being made towards that. There are reforms being brought forward to ensure that pay is related to ability rather than time served. There are plans to allow chief constables to make redundancies and ensure the quality of officers is the highest it can be. That’s all good, common sense stuff. So why does the focus instead seem to be on the pay cuts? Inevitably, this seems to be yet another example of mis-management by Downing Street and the Home Office. Put bluntly, the Prime Minister and his advisors have no real-world experience. They’ve never run anything except charity marathons, which is why so many of our policies seem to get hijacked so quickly. They don’t take control of announcements; projects aren’t seen through from beginning to end; the media response isn’t anticipated.

The narrative of the police reforms should be about cutting out the dead wood and putting the emphasis on real policing. Instead, we’ll most likely be lambasted for attacking the bobbies-on-the-beat – the junior officers who do the bread-and-butter policing on our streets.

All this makes me worry that David Cameron simply isn’t taking the next election seriously enough. The police are at the heart of Conservative voters concerns. We absolutely must ensure we remain the Party which voters can trust in that area.

Brian Binley MP

Northampton South


Picture of happy memories

Re: Awards from football ace (Looking Back, C&E, Jan 7)

Firstly, can I thank you for publishing this picture which brought back many happy memories (below).

This picture was taken at a presentation evening held at the Saints Cricket Club Birchfield Road. The caption (left to right) was Tony Major (secretary for Abington Athletic football club 1963), Graham Mills, Gary Mills, Nick Verity and Gordon Higgins (manager Abington Athletic).

Tony Major was receiving a tankard for 21 years service as secretary and treasurer. Graham Mills was player of the year 1984-85. Nick Verity was clubman of the year 1984-85.

Not sure what Gordon Higgins was receiving, perhaps one of your readers can help.

Abington Athletic was one of the founder clubs of the Northampton Sunday Football League in 1966, now known as the Northampton Sunday Combination. They disbanded a year later when I then became involved in local football in various roles. I have been Secretary for the Northampton Town Football Association since 1997, as well as many varied other roles for the Northamptonshire Football Association.

I am also involved in many other committees as well as the role of Chairman on the Challenge Cup and Discipline Committee for the Northamptonshire Football Association.

I have been very honoured and proud to have been involved with football as I am now in my 50th year in football.

Tony Major

Abington Vale

Take steps to prevent freezing up

With temperatures outside plummeting, many of us are reaching for the hats and gloves. But it’s also important we make sure our homes are wrapped up warm.

The big freeze of 2010 led to frozen pipes in many homes, leaving people without running water and, worse still, burst or leaking pipes when the ice started to thaw.

Here at Anglian Water we saw a huge rise in calls from customers, but were often unable to help as we do not own the pipes inside people’s homes. That’s why we are urging customers to check water pipes are insulated and protected against the cold.

At the same time, we’re protecting our own pipes. In the past two years we’ve spent more than a million pounds on parts our network at risk from freezing temperatures.

For our customers too, prevention is better than cure, with cheap and simple steps like lagging pipes leading to big savings on repairs and clean-ups.

Lots of advice on how to keep homes cosy can be found on our new Facebook page

Paul Valley

Director of Water Services
Anglian Water Services

Gritter lorry drivers are real heroes

A hat tip to a group of unsung heroes, and heroines, who most people rarely see at work. That is because they work unsocial hours, like starting a shift at 3am. The only evidence of their industry is to be seen strewn over Northamptonshire’s thousands of roads in the morning. As the county comes to terms with the winter’s first major snowfalls and sub-zero temperatures, we owe a considerable debt of thanks to the men and women of the County Council’s Highways department. They work the gritting trucks and the supply depots to keep the county’s principal roads useable by the rest of us in the morning.

The Highways Department should be recognised for a job being well done. The feedback I am getting from the nine parishes I represent in the Hackleton Division is universally positive. And the grit bins are systematically being re-stocked at a local level.

When it is so much easier to fire off a “yours disgusted” letter, complaining about one thing or another, I have always taken the view that the County Council is doing a lot more right than wrong in testing financial times.

The Highways Department is working more efficiently to deliver an improving service to Northamptonshire residents, while the County Council is meeting the challenges of freezing weather with a frozen Council Tax - for the third successive year.

Councillor Michael Clarke


Have we attracted businesses?

I understand that since granted Enterprise Zone status (nearly two years ago now) we have some exciting projects in the pipeline (Train Station Bus Station, Innovation Centre, Project Angel, Innovation Centre, University Relocation), but all of these projects are funded in some way by public money.

There is no movement whatsoever on investment by the private sector.

Yes, Carlsberg have built a new bottling hall, but that should surely be considered convenient considering the fact that Carlsberg closed their Leeds brewery to centralise in Northampton anyway.

And for some odd reason, Carlsberg’s employee car park was included within the enterprise zone (not the rest of their site) so that they could perhaps benefit from the reduced rates?

I’m not against Carlsberg’s investment in any way, but why is this overlooked, and when will we see ACTUAL progress in bringing new enterprise to Northampton, rather than just providing cushy deals to people spending public money and not creating any new jobs to further their own ambitions?

What have the council actually achieved in enticing new business?

I think so far they have an extremely poor record.

Dan Wells