READERS’ LETTERS February 3

RE YOUR article on January 20 about Harwood’s staff in Terminus Road headlined Workers are frustrated by ticket-happy wardens.

It is about time the district council as parking authority for both on-street and off-street parking placed parking meters along Terminus Road, and indeed Quarry Lane.

The concept of free parking, other than on private property, for anyone except the disabled, has gone.

Government policy has for years tried to encourage car users to consider different modes of transport and one of the ways of doing so is to give local authorities, in the form of planning directives, the ability to force developers to reduce parking on both commercial and residential schemes.

It’s not palatable, but it’s probably necessary, before the towns and cities are over-run with cars.

We all know that this is true.

The current parking arrangement in Terminus Road is a scheme adopted before Chichester District Council took control of on-street parking last year.

It’s a ‘dogs dinner’ of a policy where neither the parking control officers nor the public quite know what they can or cannot do – hence the Harwoods complaint.

As an owner of development land in Terminus Road, I know what the planning policies are and if parking remains essentially free along Terminus Road, then those that cannot park on the site to which they work, just park whereever they can along the main road – what possible nonsense is that?

It defeats the whole purpose of any legislation.

The problem is then compounded by the Chichester Gate Leisure scheme, where circa 400-450 parking spaces are already insufficient to serve the needs of customers – particularly in the evenings and school holidays.

Chichester Gate still has units to let and then there are 310 students due to arrive with the completion of the new college accommodation campus on Stockbridge Road.

Free parking is a thing of the past.

Employers and employees must recognise that as a fact and change their mindset to how we work in a new era.

Do Harwoods feel its staff should be treated differently to the people who work in the 730 businesses in the city centre and either come by car and pay, or find an alternative.?

I suggest not.

Andrew Finnamore MD, Amberley House, Chairman, City Centre Partnership

YOUR ARTICLE on the front page of the Observer of January 20 – Don’t leave motorists out in the cold – has sparked me into writing to you, regarding development in Chichester and the provision of adequate car parking.

If my memory serves me correctly, developments at Chichester University/Bishop Otter College saw the issue of adequate student parking being raised.

The college/university replied to such concerns that a student bus would be provided for students making the journey from Bognor and students living in the locality would be discouraged from using their motor vehicles.

Such statements seem to have satisfied the planners, as expansion has been allowed.

The outcome of accepting the suggestions that people can be persuaded not to use their cars, was a long line of cars parked in College Lane from Winterbourne Road to Connolly Way.

The local authority reacted to this by reducing parking by extending double yellow lines in Summersdale Road.

The result an exodus of cars which reappeared in Connolly Way. Linden Homes took action to prevent parking in Connolly Way.

The cars seemed to have disappeared from the roads around the university and Summersdale, had the undergraduates decided to walk or cycle?

No chance!

Early this week I returned from a trip to the shops with my grandson and, having promised a visit to the play area in Oakland’s Park, I went to park in the car park adjacent to the Rugby Club.

It was absolutely jam-packed with cars so I drove home and walked my grandson to the play area.

There were no events going on at the Rugby Club or Rifle Club, so who are we providing car parking in Oakland’s Park for?

Could it possibly be students?

I’m not knocking undergraduate car owners – we are a car-owning society.

My wife and I run two cars, and when my children were still at home we were a four-car family.

I am also very aware that parking is a problem in many parts of Chichester. Planning decisions must be made which make realistic provision for motor vehicles, not on aspirational expectations by environmental idealists trying to change decades of car use, or developers attempting to make as much profit as feasible from a development, or educationalists trying to squeeze the maximum development into a restricted site.

Linden Homes and Eco-town planners both seem again, understandably, to be trying to maximise development with the least amount of provision of car parking spaces.

What about the resident who has a motorhome or a work’s van?

Where are they going to park?

What is going to happen when a resident has an event, where are their guests going to park?

The result will be congestion, illegal and anti-social parking.

This can already be seen in the Graylingwell development adjacent to Fordwater School where in evenings and weekends cars are parked on pavements.

I assume there is insufficient space in the shared parking bays.

Residents/dwellings need their own adequate allocated parking if they are to live harmoniously.

Shared parking, and shared open spaces instead of enclosed gardens, have been seen not to work elsewhere, they create tensions and discord between neighbours.

Local politicians need to reflect the needs of the residents that they serve, and if the planning regulations and guidelines do not reflect the needs of the community they should mobilise a campaign to change them.

Developments must provide realistic space for car parking now and not accede to hoped-for changes in use.

Ray Carter, Summersdale

I THINK there are plenty of alternatives to cars.

For example, for short distances people could cycle or just simply walk; both are good for you and the environment. However, these aren’t good for longer distances so people should use public transport – buses and trains – to commute to other areas or go on holiday.

They still pollute the environment but are not as bad as loads of cars on the roads.

Even with these options some members of the population prefer to have their own personal car.

The electric car would be ideal if it is used for shorter distances due to the need to charge its battery, but it is better for the planet than the average petrol car.

Lewis Jillians, Chichester

THERE HAS been a lot of coverage recently on the government’s planned changes for the NHS, in particular, concerning the pace of those changes.

I wanted to take this opportunity to reassure residents that at West Sussex County Council we are well placed to meet the challenges of the future, and both within local government and the health service we are already working hard on the changeover. I strongly feel this will be a positive move for the people of West Sussex.

We welcome this exciting opportunity and have begun work early with our district and borough council colleagues to ensure the whole of West Sussex local government is working together.

Health and wellbeing is a clear priority for the county council.

I envisage the new role will enable us to bring a more local focus to allow us to use the money available to achieve better results for our residents.

This places us at the forefront of local authorities, leading the way on public health.

For a smooth transition, we are not only working with NHS West Sussex but also the West Sussex GP consortia and the voluntary and community sector.

Working in partnership is key to the success of the new public health role and we are so confident of this scheme that we are planning to introduce the new way of working this April, rather than 2012 as proposed by the government.

We already have a strong foundation with our joint commissioning work with the NHS and by forging the way now, we are ensuring that we get the new public health role right for West Sussex and our residents.

An example of our joined-up service provision is the work we are doing to reduce the likelihood of hospital admissions by providing more support for frail and elderly people to enable them to stay in their own homes.

I do hope this helps reassure residents that in West Sussex we welcome this additional responsibility and want to lead the way in achieving better health actions for our residents.

Louise Goldsmith, Leader, West Sussex County Council

CORRESPONDENCE in last week’s Readers’ letters emphasises the level of concern over Chichester District Council’s proposals to close several public toilet facilities in the district, and your item on page 3 reports Councillor Peter Jones’s comment that ‘the issue has been badly handled’ by the district council.

Also, Cllr John Connor contacted me regarding my letter published in the Observer on January 13 and put forward the notion reported last week that toilets in the district council’s East Pallant House HQ are open to the public in working hours.

It is well known that bladder and bowel functions are not confined to office hours, and it seems doubtful to me that the district council’s management and staff would welcome a continuous procession of people making use of their loos.

My previous letter refers to public conveniences wherever they are located in the district and was not confined to concern about closure of the facility in East Pallant car park.

Wherever they are located in the district the toilets were placed there to meet the needs of the people, and I would suggest the number of users has probably increased over the years arising from growth in travel and tourism.

The only motivation for the proposed action appears to be financial, and in my opinion the decision does not reflect any concern for the wellbeing and comfort of local residents or visitors.

It seems more like an act of vandalism as a response to temporary financial difficulties which will surely be overcome, but the toilets are unlikely to be replaced.

Cllr Peter Jones is reported to have called for compromise but I would go further and call for the council’s decision to close the East Pallant convenience to be reversed, and for all the regularly used toilet facilities in the district to be maintained and preserved.

Other letters published today have drawn attention to the importance of toilet facilities in development of tourism in this district, which is very important to the local economy.

Public health and cleanliness are obviously important aspects, and our district councillors must be urged to think again.

Unfortunately, on-going provision of public toilet facilities is a service which the local authorities must recognise as a necessary expense.

Fred Allen, Selsey

WE FEAR the proposal for an ‘English Baccalaureate’ misses the target.

The English Baccalaureate, recently announced by the government, shows how many students achieved pass grades in six specific subjects at GCSE – English, maths, two sciences, a language and either history or geography.

It does not measure how well our students have done or demonstrate the quality of their achievement.

It does not say anything about the range of courses that students have taken, nor whether pupils have followed an appropriate curriculum.

All it does show is how many students in a school have taken an arbitrary and narrow combination of subjects.

We are back in the world of the School Certificate, which was abolished in 1951.

Everyone accepts that English and maths are vitally important.

But the needs of society for a highly-skilled and educated workforce are ever-changing, and the proposed English Baccalaureate is, we believe, too narrow to prepare our young people adequately for the uncertain times ahead.

On a personal level, it will restrict students’ choices at GCSE.

Schools will feel under pressure to insist that students take these six subjects, leaving very little space for them to choose courses that are more suitable for their needs and abilities.

Mr Gove has said headteachers know best.

Schools work hard to determine what is best for our students and our community; they should not be told precisely what subjects students should choose in the Key Stage 4 options process.

For many students, this will be an unwelcome straitjacket that restricts their ability to develop and demonstrate their skills.

The current performance measures (5A*-C including English and maths) are a suitable reflection of students’ abilities and schools’ effectiveness.

Schools work tirelessly to help their students fulfil their potential.

The English Baccalaureate may have the unnecessary and negative impact of frustrating those efforts.

Nick Taunt, Headteacher, Bishop Luffa School, Margaret Eva Headteacher, Bourne Community College, Fiona Oliver-Watkins Headteacher, Chichester High School for Girls, Gavin Salvesen-Sawh, Headteacher. Chichester High School for Boys, Shelagh Legrave, Principal, Chichester College, Mark Anstiss, Headteacher, Felpham Community College, David Jones, Headteacher, The Regis School, David Todd, Headteacher, St Philip Howard Catholic High School, Steve Nelmes, Headteacher, Westergate Community School, Vicky Wright, Headteacher, Manhood Community College

THREE YEARS AGO, children who chose to be educated at their nearest church high school received free public transport; Catholic or Church of England.

However, now children who are in years seven, eight or nine at present have had this terminated due to, what we hear all the time of late, ‘save money – cut costs’.

Pupils of year 10 and 11 still receive free transport at the moment.

However, I hear that this is also going to stop. Another cut!

West Sussex County Council believes that this is an unnecessary expenditure and that if parents wish not to send their children to their allocated catchment school and to a church school instead then they should pay for the transport themselves.

It costs my parents, for a school year from Chichester to Barnham, approximately £285.

This is not including any train price rises that will occur this year.

My friend has three other siblings that attend my school from Worthing.

So, if West Sussex County Council stops the free funding all together for existing years 10 and 11, it will cost an extortionate amount for her parents to send all four children.

Can we afford it? Can we continue to send them to this good school?

This is what some parents will have to face.

West Sussex County Council is penalising faith schools and we are being discriminated for our religious beliefs or upbringing.

In today’s society, people who are practising Christians should be encouraged to continue to follow this path and be allowed to attend and be educated in their chosen church school – however far away it is from their home.

It is hard enough to pay for one child to travel to school, but now it looks like all funding is going to stop!

Why should we be forced to compromise our choice of school education because of our faith?

Jessica McGreal, Grove Road, Chichester

THE CLOSURE of the A29 between the Halford’s roundabout and the Woodgate level crossing for two days was a total disgrace.

This is the main A-road to London, which carries essential lorries and heavy vehicles daily and should be open at all times.

Apart from the fact that it is narrow, dangerous and meandering, it is frequently prone to flooding on account of the low level of the road compared to the surrounding fields which become easily saturated with any rain.

A temporary improvement measure would be to raise the level of the carriageway so that water drains from it on either side.

A much preferred option would be to close entirely that stretch of the old A29 and build a high, straight, three lane alternative road from Fontwell direct to Bognor.

This would also have the advantage of avoiding the delays caused by the unspeakable Woodgate level crossing.

The inconvenience caused to motorists by the recent closure can only be imagined.

It is an eight-mile trek via potholed Hook Lane, through Oving and the Drayton crossing into Bognor from Westergate, whereas the direct route is only three miles.

This is at a time when we are all trying to save our highly overpriced petrol.

I realise funds are short at present, but if we can afford the frivolous 2012 Olympics, we can surely correct a mere three to four miles of what is, in effect, an appallingly outdated country lane, masquerading as an A road and totally unfit for the purposes of the 21st century.

Margaret Edgington, Elmcroft Place, Westergate

I READ with more than a little concern your report of ‘rubber stamping’ by Chichester District Council, of a decision to close the Public Toilet facility in East Pallant, adjacent to the City Council Offices.

Your report in my copy of the paper missed out the anger expressed by several bodies insisting that such facilities must be maintained for all members of the public and especially those whose medical needs require consideration.

Surely, one of the principal responsibilities of a local authority is to care for citizens in matters of health and hygiene?

I am aware that there is no statutory obligation to provide toilet facilities, but I am sure that if you ask the public what they expect, a large majority – from mums with children, mature adults, those with medical considerations and any other responsible member of the public – will say toilets are an essential part of a civilised society.

As a ratepayer, I am only too aware of the current pressure of our funds, collected as rates, but to withdraw such an essential part of our public structure is a disgrace.

You report that Councillor Myles Cullen said the council had been “quite generous in what it provided throughout the district, but that the time had come to look at this seriously, and consider what they (presumably the council) owed the ‘public’.”

If those words are true, what condescension from the councillor.

What survey I wonder might lead the council to consider the present facilities underused. These toilets in East Pallant are at the very centre of the town, sited within the most central car park. I am aware that other toilets are available in the town, but has any councillor, male or female, been caught short only to find they have another half to three-quarters-of-a-mile to find an alternative at Ave.de Chatres or the Cattle Market?

There are also toilets in the city’s council offices, but are the staff there to be subjected to routine enquiries as to where the toilets are?

And are the staff prepared to share those toilets as a staff facility with the public?

The plush new offices there are a sight for sore eyes to ratepayers subjected to cuts in public funding/ their funding.

People visiting the town, whether as shoppers, tourists or even residents, will plan their journey to make themselves comfortable where their car is parked, either at the beginning or the conclusion of their visit.

It seems to me as a regular visitor to Chichester that the EP toilets are very well used and maintained to a reasonable standard.

Again, I appreciate the cost of cleaning etc is not inconsiderable, but then that is what we should be prepared to pay rates for.

I do consider that because there are many visitors to Chichester, the cost of public toilets should not be carried by Chichester residents alone; some monies should be shared by another source of public funds, namely the county council, all of course coming from the rates/council charge.

While I have been aware over recent months of consideration of various plans for the toilet cover in Chichester, I am unsure what public consultation there has been.

It appears the Disabled Access Group in Chichester are involved and think the plans for closures ‘are terrible’ and one can only agree with that sentiment.

With dedicated disabled facilities at the East Pallant site, together with the Shopmobility based next to the toilets, no wonder taking that away disturbs the disabled group in Chichester.

Living in Aldwick I do not follow Chichester council matters day by day, so how far outside the city has the consultation spread?

I am sure most would be very unhappy at the present proposals for closure and take a dim view of any ‘rubber stamping’ procedure I will be grateful for publication of my views before any retrograde step is ‘rubber stamped’ by either the district or county councils.

Margaret Jefferies (Mrs), Aldwick

I FIND the idea of closing public toilets unbelievable and very short-sighted.

It is an irretrievable and retrograde step that would appal our enlightened Victorian forbears who provided us with so much in terms of civic pride and of what any civilised society should regard as vital public facilities.

The toilets in this part of the city, so close to the South and East Street shops, are much used and much needed.

To consider closing them when we are trying to attract visitors to the city to enjoy its wonderful range of shops, restaurants and cultural attractions, seems absurd, especially when the visitors are usually arriving by car from some distance, with young and elderly family members in need of the toilet on arrival or departure.

The decision to close the East Pallant facility seems especially harsh when the Shopmobility van for wheelchair users is immediately adjacent to it. Surely the site is, in Chichester District Council’s terms, a ‘strategic location’?

What thought has been given to these needs, which are surely the mark of any human and civilised society, and an entirely reasonable human right and expectation?

Where are people supposed to go if they close?

If such facilities are under threat, and money needs to be saved, what thought has been given to a small charge for use, as in many other public places such as stations?

I have written to CDC’s main officers concerned, and our three south ward councillors, and would urge all readers and users to do the same.

If we don’t fight for our right to such essential facilities like these, what do we fight for?

What is worth preserving?

What are our priorities? Surely these are common rights for any city’s inhabitants and visitors?

Mike Jennings, East Pallant, Chichester

IN RESPONSE to the letter from Carlo Frederick Smythe on January 20.

At the risk of sounding like a rambling resident from Albion Road, I would like to point out that the Albion Road and Lower East Street Residents’ Association would in fact agree that Stagecoach provide a very good service to ‘some parts’ of Selsey.

What we are seeking is to have a dialogue with Stagecoach to try and reach a compromise about the amount of bus movements in Lower East Street and Albion Road.

At present there is a bus passing through these narrow roads every seven-and-a-half minutes and because of this frequency, the buses are meeting frequently on the very tight bend at the beginning of Albion Road, necessitating one bus to either reverse (which they are not supposed to do without a banks man) or the other to ride up on the pavement, sometimes for as much 50 yards, which again is contrary to the Traffic Regulations.

By reducing the frequency of the buses this dangerous situation could be avoided.

We have made several suggestions to Stagecoach and West Sussex County Council which would not impact on passenger volumes.

We would like the service be altered to incorporate the East and West parts of Selsey and the whole length of the High Street which at present are not covered by a bus route.

In conclusion, we are not criticising the bus service or the bus drivers, just the seemingly thoughtless planning of the route.

Alan Sandell, Albion Road, Selsey

FOLLOWING ON from the various letters and articles regarding the fencing of the Orchard Street playing field for the use of the Central CoE Junior School, I am puzzled as to whether there will be any public access in the future?

In his second letter written in July 2010 to the local residents, the headmaster, Mr Andrew Goff stated that the field would be left open for the use of the community after school hours, at weekends and during school holidays.

Is this still the case?

I would also add a protest about the state of the so-called public access path in the south the of the field, and the removal of much of the hedge, which leaves the public record office car park exposed to view.

What arrangements will be made for the upkeep of this section of the field?

JP Rusher, Hawthorn Close, Chichester

I SEE with distress that the central school playing field has been fenced off. I am told by the contractor working that the access to the ‘public bit’ is via the car park by the concrete huts, head towards the big tree in the middle and access the small area left after the school has fenced off most of the area.

Why? There were reports of dog mess. Highly exaggerated. Some local public areas such as the car park at Harting Down and the Midhurst road entrance to Petworth Park have one pile of dog poo in each and every square yard. The playing field had the occasional heap, but not much.

Broken bottles was another ‘reason’. Rubbish. Never seen one.

In the times I used the field for dog walking I frequently saw groups of teenagers drinking alcohol and made a mental note to bring a bag next day to take the empties away ... only to find someone else had done it.

Safety of the children? Another panic-stricken exaggeration.

Health and safety was introduced in the early 80s to make safe heavy industry such as steel mills, car plants, ship-building, coal mines and building sites.

It has now spread like a cancer to all aspects of British life, pushed along by inspectors who must have the weirdest of minds to come up with a problem that does not really exist.

As for the children, how often do they use the field? The only time I have seen them on there is doing field sports for a couple of weeks in the summer.

Thank you school headmaster for ruining the simple pleasure of a walk in the field with my dog.

Philip Pratley, Walnut Avenue, Chichester