Chron Letters: June 27

Hospital parking review is ongoing

Further to Mr Fox’s letter (Hospital car parking has to be sorted, May 30), we thought it important that your readers are made aware of what we are doing.

One thing we have in common with the majority of hospitals up and down the country is that car parking can be problematic during certain times of the day. We have segregated parking facilities for patients, visitors and staff, with the majority of patient and visitor spaces located as close to the hospital entrances as possible. We also provide 30-minute drop-off bays and dedicated disabled parking bays.

Our travel plan covers most of the measures mentioned in Mr Fox’s letter, as well as some others. Our car parking permits are only issued to staff who meet the trust’s car parking criteria and parking is not guaranteed. Staff who live within two miles of the hospital (unless identified as an essential carer) are not eligible for a permit. Car sharing is promoted and our travel centre maintains up-to-date travel information on public transport.

We provide bicycle (and motorcycle) spaces and shelters on site and also have a salary sacrifice scheme that enables staff to buy bicycles at a reduced price as part of the national cycle to work scheme.

The trust actively works in partnership with the county council and local bus companies to encourage more public transport usage. Since March, a new bus service has provided an additional service that stops next to our main entrance in Cliftonville, close to the accident and emergency department.

As the number of people using our services has grown, so has the number of clinics we provide and the number of staff who work at NGH. This all has a knock-on effect on car parking availability at peak times. To help cope with demand, the trust leases 100 car parking spaces for staff off-site at Midsummer Meadow, thereby providing more space on the hospital site for patients and visitors.

The trust has explored the option of a multi-storey car park, but at this time it is not an affordable option. We are constantly reviewing our car parking facilities as we are well aware that car parking is an issue for patients, visitors and staff alike, and our aim is to try and maintain a balance.

Charles Abolins

Director of Facilities and Capital Development, Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust


Reasons why Sekhemka has to stay

Christine Midgley’s suggestion to repatriate the Sekhekma statue to Egypt is sensible. It was mooted by a former museum employee in early 2012 and would have been a wonderful cultural gesture. However it is not practical for a number of reasons.

First there is an ownership issue. The statue, its accompanying Egyptian collection and the Mineral/Geological Collection were given to Northampton under a Deed of Gift, drawn up by the 4th Marquess of Northampton and the Borough in 1880. This states that the collections must be on display in perpetuity and available for research and must not be sold or disposed of; should the borough attempt a sale or disposal, the collections revert to the Compton Family. This means that legally the statue and the other artefacts cannot be sold or lent. This is why Lord Northampton is contemplating suing NBC for the return of it all.

No, Northampton town does not have Egyptian ties as such, but these items were at one time lent as part of the exhibits to the museum that the Compton family, among others, founded in a room in the Guildhall in the late 1860s. That’s why the collections should stay here as a link to the beginnings of the museums. The town also has many citizens with an African ancestry who value artefacts like these.

The statue and the other artefacts have been on display since at least 1899 and Sekhemka was removed from display in late 2010 on the orders of senior NBC management. This removal followed a re-valuation of the museum collections in 2009/2010 due to NBC changing their insurance provider. Sekhemka was the artefact with the highest insurance value. After the valuation the insurer lowered the insurance premiums and declared that all security measures in place at both museums were more than adequate and up to the latest requirements.

Sekhemka has been the subject of a lot of research, not all of it necessarily published but available in various academic establishments; I recommend The Northampton Statue of Sekhemka, by T G H James, published in The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, vol 49, 1963.

The Deed of Gift can be seen on this web site:

In my opinion the way out of the impasse is for NBC to put the statue back on display, fulfilling NBC’s obligations under the Deed of Gift.

Gunilla Loe

Derngate, Northampton


Council had chance for drink debate

I was at the borough council meeting last Tuesday evening when my husband made a proposal in support of the motion to introduce an EMRO (Early Morning Restriction Order) for selling alcohol between 3am and 6am in the town centre.

Things seemed to be going in favour of the proposal until everything suddenly changed and a councillor proposed a “do nothing” option which was approved. I was very surprised by the way it happened. I have very strong feelings about the topic because I regularly meet people whose lives, and those of their families, have been totally devastated by excessive use of alcohol, and this appeared to be an opportunity to consult on a way to alleviate the problem.

I am obviously disappointed, but hope that the people concerned will continue to work towards alleviating this issue and its major impact upon our society.

Mary Huffadine- Smith

Duston Wildes, Northampton

Committee should not have decided

Why is the licensing committee the appropriate body to accept or reject the 3am to 6am alcohol sales curfew (EMRO) in Northampton town centre? The proper body to consider this is the whole council, because it is a general health, safety and culture issue affecting the image of the whole town and a financial issue for all taxpayers.

The licensing committee has such regular contact with the pub and club owners that members were too easily persuaded that banning sales after 3am would cause such a severe loss of profits and jobs that they should disregard the clear evidence of extra costs and harm to the public arising from the continuation of early morning alcohol sales.

The members of the licensing committee chose to ignore the police statements that almost 23 percent of all crime recorded in Northampton in 2012/13 took place in the “leisure zone”, which includes Northampton town centre, and of those incidents over one quarter occurred between 3am and 6am. In particular, violence has increased on Saturday and Sunday mornings. These facts support the Police advice that an EMRO would be “an effective tool in reducing alcohol related crime”.

The extreme alcohol consumption culture requires extra police supervision in the town centre to deter and control anti-social behaviour and harm to members of the public. This raises policing costs and diverts officers from other duties. It also imposes extra costs on the NHS as people with major or minor injuries from brawls or falls require treatment at our hospital’s A&E department, to say nothing of the long term damage to health suffered by people who develop a habit of regular excessive drinking. A 3am ban would not solve all problems and would not prevent members of the public enjoying a late night out, but the licensing committee has protected the narrow interests of the licensing trade because the committee members are not required to consider the wider financial and health benefits which could result from stopping alcohol sales for just three hours! They even rejected any consultation about the plans. Why is the committee allowed to have such power?

G Herbert

Lumbertubs Lane, 
EMRO was a step too far for our town

I was one of the six committee members who rejected more consultation on an EMRO.

As an elected member and sitting on the licencing committee for my third term, I take my responsability very seriously and am deeply offended that I have been accused of being “short sighted” by the new Police and Crime Commissioner, Adam Simmonds.

I looked at all the evidence presented and I felt that an EMRO was a step too far. If I had allowed consultation to continue it would have been an open admission that we at licensing and the police had failed and I was not prepared to admit that.The licensing officers had done an excellent job in presenting this report but the facts were slightly blurred by the protest letters from Southfields, Duston and some churches. These were not relevent and not vital to the input of the report as they are well outside the leisure zone and not really involved in the late night town centre drinking culture. What these letters did though was skew the for and against figures.

If, as was stated, the police need more help with funding and resources then why are we spending so much on the Police and Crime Commssioner, which is what my residents are asking. This money should be spent on frontline services.

What we need is zero tolerance. We should be sending out a clear message to the few people who are causing our town all these problems. It is illegal to urinate in doorways, as is littering,drinking within the town centre on the streets, spitting, brawling, using abusive language and being drunk and disorderly. We already have the tools to combat our town centre problems so let us make sure that we use them and if it requires a court apperance make sure that the magistrates give more than a slap on the wrist or a badge of honour called an ASBO. Crack down on the few 
troublemakers who are causing the majority of our problems.

It is not alcohol that fuels the violence, it is the lack of consequences and knowing that they will get away with it because of soft justice and no punishment.

Make them think again.

Mick Ford

Councillor for Delapre, Briar Hill & Far Gotton


Thanks for Town fans generosity

On behalf of Prostate Cancer UK, I would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who donated to a bucket collection at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, May 18.

Volunteers collected £1,334.93 before the npower League 2 play-off final between Northampton Town and, Bradford City, as part of the charity’s official partnership with The Football League. After a hard fought season the result must have been a big disappointment for Northampton Town. However, the big winner on the day was undoubtedly men’s health.

While it is already the most common cancer in men, prostate cancer is predicted to become the most common cancer of all in the UK by 2030. Supporting this long-neglected disease is urgent because prostate cancer kills one man every hour, and the number of men with the disease is rising at an alarming rate. Every penny raised will help more men survive prostate cancer and enjoy a better quality of life by providing vital support, information and funding research.

We all wish Northampton Town well for Season 2013/14.

Mark Bishop

Director of Fundraising, 
Prostate Cancer UK


Election was not example of democracy

Owen Coop stated in his letter (Chronicle & Echo, June 13) that a majority of the residents of West Hunsbury voted in favour of having a parish council. They did not.

An election was held which could be described as being democratic depending on what type of democracy you believe in but it was somewhat similar to some of the elections trade union leaders of old used to conduct. Austerity and affordability were never considered. Residents were not fully informed of the pros and cons of a parish council and most importantly what it would cost them now and in the future.

What consultations were held were mostly, if not all, with our borough councillor, his political party supporters and Friends of the Parks. Residents were denied 
postal votes. Minimal communication and publicity took place. Many residents claim they never even received the one leaflet I know was delivered to some residents.

The turnout was only 11.66 percent which produced 224 in favour and 189 against out of 3,547 eligible residents. Hardly the majority Owen Coop claims.

Myself and several other residents were dissatisfied with the way the election was conducted so decided to stand for election as councillors and fully inform residents of the facts and costs and as a result 32.7 percent of residents turned out and voted or voted by post (Postal votes were allowed for this election!). I was elected with the highest number of votes.

I am the candidate who stated that I will propose a motion to arrange to give residents a new poll/election or referendum which would be properly communicated and publicised in order to ascertain more meaningfully whether a sizeable majority of residents really do want a parish council and are prepared to pay for it. If they are not it should be disbanded.

John Smyth

Chairman of West Hunsbury Parish Council


New cinema could affect Lings Forum

I would like to voice my concerns about the opening of the Errol Flynn Film House at the Royal & Derngate Theatre.

The new opening programme of films to be shown at the Errol Flynn is very similar to the film programme at the already established Forum Cinema at Lings Forum.

The Forum Cinema is a very professionally run independent venue which shows the best in world cinema plus mainstream films, children’s matinees, over 50s screenings, school screenings and is also run by knowledgeable, skilled staff.

Why is Northampton Borough Council helping to fund a new cinema in the town (programmed by City Screen/Cineworld) which could jeopardize the future of the Forum Cinema?

Angela Reed

Address supplied

New cinema is impressive new venue

My wife, Sally, and I were hugely impressed by the new Errol Flynn Cinema on its opening night. It is a major coup for Northampton, now definitely ‘movie-ing’ in the right direction. We shall certainly be visiting often and look forward to presenting a show later in the year. We wish the venture all the success that it undoubtedly deserves.

John Sheinman

Sheinman Opticians