January 28th: Racecourse needs care not 'enhancements'

On January 17, I attended a meeting of The Friends of The Racecourse, where the draft proposals for changes to The Racecourse were shown.

Unfortunately, we were not given much time to study them, or to take home photocopies.

Since then I have met people who didn't know about the meeting and others who have heard rumours and want to know more about the new proposals, as they use The Racecourse.

There are a number of new paths planned, extensions to the car parks, more planting and a cafe where the central depot is now. A proposal to move the tram shelter from its original place by the White Elephant has been put forward.

Shouldn't there be a public display, say, in The Guildhall, to give more people the opportunity to study it and have their say about the future of The Racecourse?

Our old Racecourse is a special place. It is not a park. It was given to the people of Northampton as "a green and open space" in which people could walk and enjoy a quietness, amid the noise of traffic as well as sport.

Mostly, in my opinion, it needs more care and attention to its existing facilities without "enhancements". It's the general neglect that has caused problems.

I have been a group supporter since The Friends was first started, when the late Malcolm Pollard was chairman and I do hope that more Racecourse users will have their say, before any permanent decisions are made.

Hazel Hiam,

Byron Street, Northampton.

Cameras up and shutters down

Isn't it intriguing that in the week the Government announced there will be new and tougher UK parking enforcement rules from March 31, the extensive CCTV system in Northampton, now the biggest coverage of any town in Europe – outside of Russia of course – is to be upgraded.

The new national parking rules will mean that the wardens will take more and more of a backseat, the still image from a CCTV camera enough to enforce a parking law violation, the car photographed, the driver none the wiser of the infringement until the bill comes through the door a week later.

The new regulations will also see fines for pedantic things like parking on or too far away from the curb. Northampton's ever-decreasing retail sector will love that.

As one camera goes up another shutter goes down.

Northampton's ever-increasing camera coverage will put the council in the box seat for the new levies and really bring in the dosh, double-bubble because money will be saved from the fewer wardens required.

It's pretty clear that our jalopies are quickly becoming the number one revenue-raising cash cows as income tax rates fall.

Phillip Ellis,

Burwood Road, Abington, Northampton.

Pothole is more of a tank trap

I am sorry that Liz Tavener doesn't like my letters concerning Port Road potholes.

She did promise me and other residents the potholes would be dealt with, but that was in June 07, it is now approaching February 08 . . . eight months have passed and the potholes are bigger and deeper.

In fact I have just measured the biggest, which is 80 feet long, three feet wide and up to three inches deep.

I think it fair to say this is more a tank trap than a mere pothole.

Liz says it will be done in the next financial year. By then someone could be injured or worse.

It needs doing now. Not to do so is gross negligence by the highway authority.

I am definitely not smelling the strawberries with this response.

I was senior clerk of works to T C Taylor, Northampton County Borough engineer in the late 1960s and dealt with road repairs and maintenance.

If roads had been allowed to fall into such state of ill-repair in my area of responsibility, I would have been sacked as would the then borough engineer.

John Wright,

Port Road, Northampton.

Tax cash will not be spent on boiler

The article in the Chronicle & Echo of January 24, Taxpayers will foot the cost of replacing dodgy system for 278 flats, relating to Spring Boroughs is not correct.

The cost (of a new boiler] will be met by tenants' rents and leaseholders' service charges.

There is this mis-placed view, that "council housing", and by implication its tenants, are supported by council tax,

For the last 10 years the campaign group Defend Council Housing has been lobbying parliament to make adjustments to the way housing is financed.

They agree that tenants want decent, modern homes in estates; they want improvements, but that is about investment and a need for change to the housing finance regime.

Councils should be able to retain and ring-fence all the rental income and capital receipts to pay for the maintenance, improvement and building of council housing and not for the chief executive's new carpet or the Royal & Derngate.

If a community needs a facility, then council tax should be used to pay for it.

The whole community should pay for that facility.

However, what we are talking about here is council tenants' rent.

I think that 100 per cent of it should be used for the maintenance, management and improvement of council homes.

Councils all over England have been and still are short changing council tenants by the way their capital receipts are spent. When a tenant buys their home from the council only 25 per cent of that money stays in Northampton, but that money is used in a number of ways, like the upkeep of the Royal & Derngate.

Norman Adams,

Chairman Northampton Tenants & Council Together (NTACT).

Wonderful days down at the club

I have been very surprised over the recent events concerning the Ex-Servicemen's Club in Sheep Street, Northampton.

My late father joined the club when he came out of the army after the Great War.

My sister and I used to hear him telling us about it.

He said that the building was left by an old lady in trust for ex-servicemen and was not to be used for any other purpose and the large tree standing in the middle of the garden should not be cut down.

We had some very enjoyable times there, especially running up and down the very long old iron steps that were at the back of the club, leading into the garden, long since demolished I suppose.

There were wonderful parties that were given yearly to the children of the club, starting off with a picture show at the Cinema De Luxe, afterwards all marching in the road, led by a band (of course, no fear of any traffic then, only an occasional horse) through Regent Square, down Broad Street and into the back door and the lovely large garden of the club and then lots of lovely treats.

It's so very sad to hear of the recent troubles. It was so friendly and welcoming a club. Of course, the period I am writing of was in the 1920s.

Joan E Davis,

Naseby Street, Semilong, Northampton.