Letters, May 10, 2012

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I NOTE with a mixture of sadness and disbelief that the authorities in the town have suddenly realised what a great heritage we have in railway engineering.

The Sir Nigel Gresley Square follows on from the Flying Scotsman health centre to celebrate this town’s glorious past in locomotive construction - and that’s it.

Apart from a glass case in the museum, that’s it.

Fifty years ago many professional railway men and engineers from the plant together with local railway enthusiasts could see that with the demise of steam traction there would be a great opportunity to create in the borough a heritage centre.

This was long before the National Railway Museum was even thought of.

The then British Railways Board even offered the town the loan of Gresley V2 ‘Green Arrow’ to form the basis of such a centre.

True to to form the council turned it down flat, weren’t interested.

Thirty years later a bold plan to build a new Peppercorn A1 Pacific was announced and Doncaster was the logical place to build it, they were designed here and built here and in Darlington.

‘Steam train building returns to Doncaster’, ‘Town builds up steam for new loco’ trumpeted the local press.

What happened? Nothing. Following indifference from the council the A1 Trust took up the offer from Darlington (whose councillors’ IQ must have been way above the those of ours) and offered the Trust a base from where the famous Tornado emerged in 2008.

The town of Darlington now has a permanent engineering base for steam locomotion.

As the Heritage Railway movement and steam locomotives for a substantial part in the tourist industry I would say that was a shrewd move.

A few years ago the famous Crimpsall erecting shop became redundant.

Here was a last chance to create something special with every facility needed. What happened? Nothing.

Even a plan to base Flying Scotsman herself here in the vicinity of the Yorkshire Outlet came to nothing.

David Daniels, Crompton Avenue, Sprotbrough

What about the Harrier’s war?

TODAY I went to Robin Hood airport to see the Vulcan land from a memorial flight to celebrate the Falklands war.

I very much enjoy the majestic sight of this aircraft but I feel its part in the liberation of the Falkland Islands has been over estimated.

The very expensive operation ‘Black Buck’ mounted from Ascension Island used RAF air tankers to get one Vulcan number 607 into position. Unfortunately they achieved only one bomb that hit the Mount Pleasant runway. The Argentineans soon filled the hole in.

It was in my opinion a great waste of resources, but it was good for RAF morale and excellent publicity for Margaret Thatcher’s government. Before all you Vulcan to the Sky people blow a gasket, read on.

What were the two pieces of war hardware, without which we would never have achieved the Falklands liberation objective?

May I suggest our submarine force and the most significant and innovative British-made fighter aircraft since the Spitfire and Hurricane?

Yes I do mean the BA Systems Harrier and in the Falklands mainly and significantly the Sea Harrier.

It was the workhorse that kept the Task Force as safe as possible whilst carrying its many fine young soldiers, airmen and sailors. They were at the sharp end, putting their lives on the line to liberate the Falklands.

The best explanation of the Harriers’ role can be found in Lieutenant Commander (Sharkie) Wards book, ‘Sea Harrier over the Falklands’.

Can we do it again if the Argentinians wish to have another go?

Not without an aircraft carrier that can launch air-superiority aircraft. At this moment in time we have no suitable aircraft carrier and no suitable aircraft capable of being launched from one.

What a state to be in. Winston Churchill must be turning in his grave.

Meanwhile the Americans have spent a few dollars to buy our RAF GR7 Harriers for the US Marine Corps to play with. So you may have gathered by now I would love to see a ‘Harrier to the Sky’ campaign, but it’s perhaps as unlikely as the Falklands being invaded again. Or is it?

Philip R Matthews, Thealby Gardens, Bessacarr

Players could be fined for spitting

I READ the Doncaster Free Press every week. I’ve noticed the story and letters on fines for spitting in Doncaster. I hope the fines apply to the council run Keepmoat Stadium where the footballers and rugby league players play are spitting all the time.

It is one way of getting the council debt down. Common sense prevails.

D Palmer, Barnsley

Who should run for mayor now?

SO the votes have been counted and the councillors elected, and once more we see Doncaster’s local issues completely overshadowed, by a nationwide protest vote against the worst coalition government in history.

We again have seen blanket voting for the shadow Labour party purely out of frustration. Then we come to the ‘mayoral referendum’ forced onto the residents of Doncaster by the controlling Labour party and closely supported by the Lib-Dems, at a cost of somewhere in the region of £150,000.

Now that the electorate of Doncaster have overwhelmingly voted in favour of keeping the elected mayoral system, may I propose that both the Labour party and the Lib-Dems are prohibited from fielding a candidate at any future mayoral election?

Would it not be hypocritical of any party to field a candidate in an election that they did not support or endorse fully?

Congratulations once more to Peter Davies our elected mayor, long may you serve the residents of Doncaster.

Mick Glynn, Doncaster Road, Hatfield

Well done Ed, you cracked it

IT was refreshing to see another side to Mr Miliband’s personality, during his local election celebrations in Southampton.

His good-natured reaction to the egg assault some delinquent fool made upon him, was an encouraging change.

Hopefully this will be a milestone in his quest to become Prime Minister and from now on he will have the confidence to cultivate a more statesman-like demeanour, casting-off the relentlessly protesting mode of a superannuated student.

It might also be a good idea not to keep tempting the Government to try ‘plan B’. Some of us are fearful B might mean Bankruptcy, a state we would surely now be in had his party not been removed from office at the last General Election.

If Mr Miliband really cares about his constituents, (who during the miners’ strike, were described by the late Lord Stockton, a then former Conservative Prime Minister, as “the best people in the world, who defeated Hitler and the kaiser”) and the rest of the township, he will, perhaps, respect their democratic decision to keep our elected mayoral model and persuade our Labour councillors to refrain from stymieing the efforts of the mayor.

The retained system might not be democratically perfect, but it does give a glimmer of hope to those of us who were nauseated by the excesses of generations of single-party politics, which ultimately brought the town to the national disrepute we still endure.

Congratulations to Paul Wray, our ward’s new Labour councillor who I voted for, and know to be reliable man of integrity.

Brian McQueen, Alderson Drive, Bennetthorpe

How will run-off be dealt with?

DOES anyone know what plans there are to disperse the surface water from the Manor Farm development and the proposed airport road? Having been involved in the business of pumping water for the last 35 years, I know that 1 inch of rain over one acre = 22 thousand gallons or 100 cubic metres of water. I also know that 1 inch of steady rain can fall in less than two hours!

As the Manor Farm site is some 700 acres of low-lying land we can assume that 75% of this will be roofs, roads or other non porous surfaces (say 525 acres) resulting in 52,500 cubic metres of water in two hours will be attempting to enter the river Torne almost immediately.

Since 1937 my family farmed Bessacarr Grange which included 27 acres between the River Torne and the mother drain from Rossington Bridge and to beyond the public footpath leading to Rossington.

On this land we were able to grow general crops using heavy machinery such as tractors, combines and beet harvesters without any problems. Now, because of subsequent development, after a couple of hours rain this land floods and the rivers join together.

Rightly or wrongly my view is that all the water which falls east of the Pennines has to end up in the North Sea.

When the rain falls on soil eg farmland, parks, gardens, woodland or any open space, it can take a week or more to reach the water course, but when it falls on hard surfaces such as roads, roofs, car parks or concrete/tarmac, it will get to the river in a very short time.

Any land or buildings lying near sea level e.g. Bentley, Askern and the like will flood. In fact some of Bessaccarr is very near sea level.

Now the airport road has reared it’s head, giving thousands of metres more water immediately.

There could be lots of Bessacarr residents refused house insurance through no fault of their own.

J W Bell, by email

Please spare time for elderly

I WORK for Independent Age, the charity which supports thousands of older people across the UK.

We tackle older people’s poverty and loneliness by offering information, advice and friendship.

For those who need it, we also offer befriending and support from an Independent Age volunteer.

We support over 6000 older people across the UK and Ireland and are in urgent need of new volunteers to join our dedicated team in Doncaster.

Whatever your talents, you can use them to help us with our work improving the lives of older people in your community.

So, whether you’re a good listener and would like to visit a lonely older person near you, or enjoy getting out and about and meeting new people, we have the volunteer roles to suit you.

All new volunteers receive a full induction, and, of course, we’ll pay for your expenses.

To find out about volunteering opportunities in your area and to request an application pack, please contact Jacoba Oldham, area manager for Yorkshire, on 01977 551405 or Jacoba.oldham@independentage.org.uk

Jacoba Oldham, Independent Age

Danum show was inspiration

I HAD the good fortune to be able to attend three performances of Hair Spray at the Danum Academy.

I saw three thrilling performances put on by extraordinary young people. They were filled with enthusiasm, energy and above all talent.

Both the actors and the musicians showed a professionalism that is sometimes missing in touring shows.

They covered a delicate and moral subject that is still prevalent in some areas today but they did it with humour and finesse.

They worked as a team and they all seemed to get on well with each other and they came off stage smiling and laughing although very tired. There was a standing ovation on every evening that I attended which speaks for itself. As word of the success grew, extra seating had to be arranged to meet the demand for tickets.

Every single person should be proud of themselves and their school where the teachers are extremely dedicated to the performing arts programme and the encouragement given to the pupils is excellent. I understand that both children and teachers gave up their weekends to fit in extra rehearsals and that is real dedication.

Margaret Snow, Doncaster

Questions that need an answer

AS I am a registered elector for the Rossington DMBC Ward, I should have been issued with a polling card for last week’s election.

Every dwelling in DMBC had a Mayoral Referendum booklet delivered (including empty properties!) by Royal Mail in March, with the statement “You will be sent a polling card no later than March 27 2012”.

I wasn’t, and I still haven’t. Enquiries to the elections office were almost dismissed by “You can vote anyway without a polling card” - which I did.

I am sure that the lack of delivery of a polling card had an effect on the abysmal Rossington turnout of 28% (down from last years’ poor 34%), including postal votes, which incidentally I believe should be trimmed back sharply to only those who genuinely need them.

The questions to be officially asked (and answered) are:

* Why were some polling cards not delivered?

* Were they printed?

* Were they handed over to Royal Mail?

* Where are they now?

* Could any have got into the wrong hands, enabling voter fraud?

* Finally, but not insignificantly, who paid, and is a rebate due?

These questions should not be shrouded in secrecy citing “competitive confidentiality”. This is a democratic right and obligation, involving public bodies and (for now) the Royal Mail.

To emphasise public accountability, perhaps the newly-enfranchised mayor Peter Davies should demand answers on our behalf.

Eddy Jones, Queen Mary’s Road, Rossington

Act daft and do nowt works

THE success of Boris in the London mayoral elections and the yes vote in Doncaster for retention of an elected mayor shows the importance of ‘style over substance’ for politicians in 2012.

In Doncaster Peter Davies is well recognised for his straight talking and love of racing, but ask the electorate to name something he’s done and ..... silence.

In an era of celebrities where fame is mistaken for talent, the lesson for politicians of the future is act daft but do nowt.

Phil Stephenson, Maidwell Way, Kirk Sandall

Let’s see an end to political war

THE failure of the Labour and Lib Dems to bring about the end of elected mayors in Doncaster must be a bitter pill to swallow.

42,196 voters in the borough voted to retain the present system.

The question must be asked will the members of these two political parties work with the elected mayor for the good of Doncaster, or will they continue their vitriolic tirade against the holder of the position at present.

The Labour party advocate for elected mayors, but only when one with their political persuasion wins the election. The Lib Dems on the other hand accept a place on the cabinet and then demonstrate against the office they are supporting.

It shows the entire town the double standards these two parties have.

We the electorate have the right to demand a degree of honour, honesty and integrity from our elected members. We demand they stop their continuous ineptitude and move on and serve the town in a more meaningful manner. It is not beyond common sense that they concentrate not on party politics and their own ambitions, but on the urgent needs of our town. In May 2013 are we likely to see Labour and Lib Dems seeking election to the office of mayor? Lets hope not.

We do not need any more negativity from these people, they seem to believe that they alone have messianic voice to save us from ourselves. How wrong they are.

Mary Kingston, The Avenue, Rose Hill

Thanks for your votes Askern

I WOULD like to thank all the residents of Askern Spa ward who turned out to vote for me. I am honoured to represent the ward again, and I promise to work hard on behalf of all the residents of the ward. Many thanks

Austen White

Do Labour care about us really?

LABOUR councillors take note, the people of Doncaster have voted to keep the mayoral system as it is, having seen first hand how some of the councillors act, their only aim is to defeat the work being done by mayor Davies.

How many of the councillors are ex Doncaster council employees on pensions and have found other jobs after retirement or redundancy from the DMBC?

Also given past investigation by the government of their refusal to work with the mayor, and the government sending in inspectors at great cost to the ratepayers, also the £100,000 cost of the referendum, they show in my eyes that they don’t care about spending our money, as long as they can dominate, and after all this is what it is about.

Lastly who will be the Labour candidate to stand for mayor next year? Look closely at what mayor Davies has done as opposed to what mayor Winter left the Doncaster tax payer.

Martyn Bevan, Eastfield Drive, Askern