Letters, February 16, 2012

HOW ironic it is that after all the bad feeling about Mayor Peter Davies ordering the removal of hundreds of trees in the middle of the racecourse (Doncaster Common) that there is now a campaign, championed by Prince Charles, to plant trees on all the racecourses in the UK to celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee this year.

“Jubilee Woods” as part of a national campaign by The Woodland Trust, aim to plant six million trees throughout the UK and the governing body of the Racecourse Association have fully endorsed the participation of the racecourses with many already planting this month.

There is an acceptance by them that many of the courses are boring sweeps of grass and tree planting will break that up and benefit the environment and wildlife.

The mayor and DMBC Environmental and Biodiversity Dept were made aware of the Woodland Trust initiative several months ago and were asked by Friends Of Doncaster Common to cease tree removal and to perhaps apply for free trees available from the Woodland Trust to replace some of those removed. We even offered to plant them to save money.

They ignored this request and continued in November to remove many more trees and thickets at a progressively huge cost to the taxpayers of Doncaster.

It is obviously time for Peter Davies to re think his intentions for the Common and fall in line with what is being accepted nationwide. He will save the waste of tax payers’ money and can sympathetically enhance the area.

He should also be reminded that if Prince Charles hears that trees are being removed instead of planted, that he may tell his mum and she may throw out our application for city status.

I say this with tongue in cheek, but you never know.

John Anderson, Sandbeck Road, Bennetthorpe

Why vote for a referendum?

I LISTENED with interest to Ed Miliband on the Sunday Politics Show (BBC, February 12). He stated quite clearly that he agreed with the elected mayoral system in Doncaster.

Why then have the Labour councillors in Doncaster disagreed with him and have voted for another expensive referendum (approx £100,000)?

In my view the elected mayor, Peter Davies, has done a good job so far, including taking away many unnecessary perks and jollies which the councillors received saving the ratepayers of Doncaster thousands of pounds.

Why did the Labour councillors not wait until the 2013 mayoral election and submit a candidate from their own party when the people will then have their democratic right to vote in whoever they wish and this would have saved the expense of a referendum, also bearing in mind other towns and cities are heading towards an elected mayoral system.

Coun Holland wrote a letter (Freeviews, February 2, 2012) against Peter Davies and how ironic it was to see Mr Riggott’s letter in the same section in which he wrote “some influential councillors place their antagonism against the mayor before the needs of the people”. How true!

If MPs want one thing and the councillors another we need an elected mayor to keep these councillors in check.

If the people of Doncaster vote in May for the elected mayoral system to continue it will be interesting to see if the Labour Party put up a candidate.

Keith Hewitt, Howden Close, Bessacarr

This proves nothing at all

I REFER to Coun Holland’s letter (Freeviews, February 2).

The total electorate of Doncaster at the local elections on 5th May 2011 was 223,413.

In the recent consultation the total votes cast in favour of a referendum was 1098.

This represents 0.49% of the electorate who actually voted for the referendum. The vast majority of the electorate abstained from voting for reasons known only to them.

For Councillor Holland to claim that 90% of the public is in favour of a referendum when 222,315 out of 223,413 either voted against a referendum or did not vote at all is a distortion of the truth.

The truth is that the consultation was not advertised well, and so many people were not aware that it was taking place at all, resulting in the fact that only 0.55% of the electorate voted.

To hold a referendum will cost approximately £80,000. To waste this amount of money (which will have to be paid by cash strapped council tax payers) in these difficult times is outrageous.

The mayor believes, as I do, in power to the people, which is why he supports the principle of directly-elected mayors, by the whole of the electorate instead of being elected by a cabal of self-interested councillors behind closed doors. This is the system which brought us the Donnygate scandal.

I hope that the good people of Doncaster will keep the system as it is and ensure that the present honest governance continues.

John Brennan, Ravens Walk, Conisbrough

Petition to save health service

THE NHS is being ruined before our very eyes. We are sleepwalking into a privatised NHS.

The Health and Social Care Bill is opposed by all the health professions including the British Medical Association, Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives. If it becomes law, it will change the NHS for ever.

People should wake up and protest before it’s too late.

Please sign the petition at http://www.dropthebill.com/and the Government e-petition http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/22670 calling on the Government to drop the Bill.

David Holland, Mexborough Labour councillor

Saving baths saves jobs too

AS a regular enthusiastic swimmer (over 30 years) and leisure centre user at St James Baths in Doncaster, I am, as are many customers of these premises, elated that Ray Nortrop has achieved a successful outcome with his endeavours to safeguard the baths from the dreaded demolition, which other side would have been inevitable.

Thankfully, Doncaster has in Mayor Peter Davies, someone who recognises the saving of the town heritage, as being worthwhile. But it would be good to know how an ordinary member of the public has initiated and been able to win Grade II listed status for St James’ Baths, in preference to Doncaster Civic Trust, who I would have thought had a matter like this sorted many years ago, when the building had been previously at risk in the late 1980s.

Especially as the building is now confirmed as being of national importance and of special interest, as it would have been then.

Importantly, Mr Nortrop’s win, will surely mean that Doncaster Council employees at St James’ Baths will keep their jobs. There is no reason to believe that the Grade II listing interferes with its commercial viability.

Tony McCready, Wicklow Road, Intake

Can council afford baths?

WITH the baths now being listed as Grade 2 building may I say that in the old record books for the town it states that there should always be one swimming facility in the town centre area.

The late Trevor Evans who worked for South Yorkshire Transport in the 1980s and resided in the flats in the St James Street area took this up with Doncaster Council when the now forgotten Greyfriars (old baths) swimming pool was demolished and where now Tesco supermarket stands.

The local councillors around at the time were councillors Brumwell, Heaven and Day, and Coun Gordon Jones followed in George’s Brumwell’s seat.

Although I am pleased with the grading, we all know that these types of buildings need large amounts of monies throwing at them in keeping them well maintained, not going in disrepair as the Grand Theatre has over the years, it has stood empty.

So Mr Nortrop, are you going to start the collection ball rolling because the council are skint.

Cyril Oakland, Chequer Avenue, Hyde Park

A job well done Ray

MAY I congratulate Doncaster stalwart Ray Nortrop on his outstanding work in saving the St James Baths, which was due to be demolished to make way for the new Waterdale development.

Doncaster needs more people like Ray who are willing to take the time and trouble to try and save our town’s heritage, and I must not forget the valiant efforts of Councillor Martin Williams in Thorne.

He has also fought tirelessly and alone to save the heritage of Thorne with very little or no help from any of our local MPs. I just hope the residents remember those of have gone that extra mile for them,

Mick Glynn, Doncaster Road, Hatfield, town councillor

Call me, Mrs Lockwood

IN response to last week’s letter ‘The left hand doesn’t know...’ can I say that I am sorry to hear that Mrs Lockwood did not receive the help she needed when she rang Doncaster council.

Residents are at the centre of everything we do and we aim to give excellent customer service.

We spend a lot of time ensuring that our staff are equipped with the necessary skills, knowledge, training and up-to -date information to answer the residents of Doncaster’s’ enquiries.

Our customer services team answers over 5,000 telephone calls and 600 emails and texts a week and I am pleased to say that incidents like this are very rare indeed.

I would like to thank Mrs Lockwood for her interest in the Love Where You Live campaign and for bringing these issues to my attention.

I would also like to know more about the problems she described in her letter and to see how we can get them resolved.

We are committed to improving customer service and I would be grateful if she could get in touch with me via the Executive Office. The address is Floor 1, Council House, College Road, Doncaster, DN1 3AJ. Telephone (01302) 862227.

Councillor Cynthia Ransome, Cabinet Member for Communities.

They should be on list

THERE are two glaring omissions from the list of 60 things you didn’t know about Doncaster.

Dame Janet Baker CH, DBE, FRSA. Born in Hatfield 1933, world class singer of opera and lieder, now retired.

Baron Porter of Luddenham formerly Lord George Porter 1920 - 2002. Nobel Laureate for his work on photo- electric chemistry. Born in Stainforth attended Thorne Grammar School.

Ken Atkinson, Station Road, Hatfield

Editor’s note: The list of 60 things you didn’t know about Doncaster was compiled by Doncaster Council.

Area is just as bad as it was

RE “Don’t let town down” in lst week’s DFP, I support the council in their stand on properties not being looked after.

I think the job in hand is a hard task to show results.

We just have to look at the ‘Six Streets’ (Hyde Park).

Hundreds of thousands of pounds has being spent trying to bring houses up to a acceptable standard but after ten months we have houses with no curtains up, no windows washed, rubbish left about and some in the same state as when started.

Most are owned by private landlords. How can the council police the task in hand? Also it’s not a good advert for the new houses being built.

Lionel Overson, Childers Street