We ought to protect the arts for future generations and not cut funds for music

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I AM a 16-year-old sixth form student at The McAuley Catholic High School.

McAuley is renowned in Doncaster for its excellent performing arts department and its high quality standard of teaching.

I am heavily involved with the music department and so rely on the teaching from the William Appleby Music Centre on Danum Road, only it seems, this teaching is now under threat.

Under recent government cuts, the arts budget has been cut considerably. Can you think of any wastage and unnecessary spending in the arts? I know I can’t.

In Doncaster, the music service alone has suffered nearly £100,000 of cuts. Some councillors across the country earn more than that. I find it absolutely disgusting that a councillor is worth more than a child’s education. We’ve produced some of the best actors, dancers, musicians and artists in the world and the people in power would take that away from us.

The council is building a new performance venue on the site of the old Doncaster College. Can someone explain how this will be useful when there will be no one to perform in it because of funding cuts?

I would like to ask the ‘Marmite Mayor’ why funding couldn’t have gone to the already weakened arts in Doncaster? When the next mayoral election comes up, I urge you to think about your children before you mark that ballot paper. The arts have been proven to help children develop. Let’s not destroy that now.

Leon French, Gordon Road, Edlington.

We should keep election local

IT’S the time of year when you get all the election leaflets through the letter box, and even some candidates and their foot soldiers knocking on your doors promising you the best of everything if you cast your vote for them.

I have now received numerous leaflets and all but one of them is ranting on about the other national parties’ mistakes each blaming the other.

This is a local election not a general election.

One leaflet is more about the constituency MPs and not about the local ward candidate for the election.

Do the people who have these leaflets printed think the electorate is out of touch politically?

Voters remember this, Doncaster is headed by an elected mayor and cabinet but with one of the groups holding a vast majority in the voting process it is them that has the power to either pass or reject almost all of the proposals put forward, on everything from library closures to redundancies, rent rises to terms and conditions of the workforce.

The mayor or the chief executive rely on the group’s backing, without it nothing goes.

W Dorney, Kind Edward Road, Balby

Not impressed by eyesore

ENTERING Doncaster from Bennetthorpe, approaching the former Gaumont corner is an absolute eyesore. The facia wall is an utter disgrace. The wall should be rendered and I hope Mayor Davies can exert pressure for this to be carried out. What a bad impression for visitors to our town.

Maurice Headland, Rowena Avenue, Edenthorpe

Greenbelt land will be at risk

FURTHER to Mr Chris Judd of Rossington’s letter re Robin Hood Airport.

I myself suspected from the start that this (FARRRS) was a ploy to kick-start the expansion of loss of greenbelt land to the foreign entrepreneurs. As for Robin Hood, robbing the rich to give the poor?

The sheriff of Doncaster Council robs the poor to give to the rich. Then again, I didn’t vote for it.

Mr B Doane, Coronation Road, Stainforth.

Town has rich and varied past

MOST of my life I lived on a small housing estate called Clay Lane. The streets are named after very important and famous people, e.g. Wilberforce, Shackleton, Livingstone and Jefferson. I’m sure many are unaware of these intrepid people.

I also found ‘The History of Doncaster in 100 objects’ very interesting, reminding me that our town played a very varied, colourful and important part in the history of this country.

Thank you for the Vulcan eight page keepsake, my grandsons found it fascinating.

Keep up the good work.

Pat Dale, Ambassador Gardens, Armthorpe

Care of elderly was excellent

I HAVE read much in the national press about the dreadful treatment of the elderly and infirm in hospital, being left to starve because they cannot feed themselves.

I have recently spent some time on ward 9 at Doncaster Royal Infirmary. Some of the patients there were unable to help themselves at meal times. The staff on ward 9 are dedicated and caring, they would gently wake a sleeping patient in order to coax them to take even a few spoonfuls and a drink. No patient was ignored at meal times, but with patience, kindness and respect for dignity, and never a raised voice or harsh word, encouraged to eat as much as possible.

I would add that my own care was second to none and I am more than grateful to all the staff there.

Mrs P Stead, Sheldon Avenue, Conisbrough

Dancers were the perfect tonic

I ENJOYED the Arabesque School of Dance presentation at the Civic Theatre recently by the name of Body Rock.

I can only describe it as absolutely fantastic, with superb dancers, trained by professional and dedicated teachers, supported with delightful costumes, wonderful colours and styles.

From the young to the old, they were smiling throughout with enjoyment and pride in what they were doing.

Just for once my mind was emptied of politics, cheating MPs, cutbacks, large rent increases, job losses and all the problems that are going on at the present time.

I spent nearly three hours viewing the good side of life, the obvious discipline and dedication required by all the dancers and the motivation given to them, by their teachers.

I left the Civic Theatre with a sense of relief, knowing that the present and future is not as bad as I thought.

Mr W F Bensley, Travis Gardens, Hexthorpe

Theatre needs your support

IT would seem the writer of Donny Diary has no concept of Doncaster’s heritage at all. Re the article in last week’s Free Press. Yes, the Grand Theatre has seen better days but every effort is being made to save the theatre by the Friends of the Grand Theatre. We are members of the group and we are hopeful one day the theatre will re-open but encouragement and support is needed not criticism especially in our own local paper. Our mayor Peter Davies is a supporter of the group as well as many other notable people such as Lesley Garratt who has expressed a wish to perform at the theatre when, not if, it is re-opened,

Mr & Mrs B Fox, Nutwell Lane, Armthorpe

Thanks for the good work

I HAVE recently had my home improved in the St Leger Homes decency scheme. I have been a tenant with St Leger for ten years. The property I am living in is quite unique, a Swedish timber house which was a gift to Doncaster Council from the Swedish government in 1954.

I am writing this letter to say how very impressed I was with the way St Leger and Bramall Construction managed the work on my home and their care and respect for my home and myself was faultless.

Of course there was some mess but it was always thoroughly cleaned up by Bramall. Also Mr Beck from St Leger Homes was always making sure I was happy with the work that was being done, nothing was too much trouble.

All of the tradesmen who worked on my home were polite and friendly and their standard of craftsmanship was excellent. Thank you for turning my house into a palace.

Elizabeth Machin, Church Lane, Wadworth

Countryside is for all to enjoy

DID you know that Doncaster is in the process of making a planning law that means only gypsies, travellers and showmen will be able to develop land and site caravans in a countryside policy area?

Not the disabled, not the economically deprived, not people who want to live in the same area that they were brought up in.

This is unfair and totally against the principle of one rule for all.

The countryside is protected from development for the benefit and enjoyment of everyone. It defeats the object if certain people have a separate set of planning laws. This new law is policy 13 of the core strategy. As Doncaster has one of the highest populations of gypsies and travellers in the country it always has a high, un-met need and this means that we have to continually provide more sites.

No account is taken of the fact that we already provide many sites in Doncaster for gypsies, travellers and showmen.

Harrogate has only two sites but Doncaster will in the future have to provide many more sites than Harrogate and many others with fewer sites than ourselves.

We understand a significant number of the gypsies and travellers getting accommodation in Doncaster do not come from Doncaster.

In a 2007 report it stated that there is a perception that households are more likely to get accommodation in Doncaster and that there are some households who would prefer to live on a site in one of the other South Yorkshire local authorities but feel that they are more likely to access provision in Doncaster.

We respect all gypsies, travellers and showmen and realise it is important that they have access to good quality medical and educational facilities but we think that if sites were more evenly distributed throughout the country that this would ensure higher quality sites with higher quality facilities as each local authority would be administering a small number of sites.

If you wish to know more about policy 13 or to object to it please go to www.policy13.info or the LDF core strategy development plan document on the Doncaster Council website. We have until May 3 to object to this policy. After this it will be law until 2026.

Name and address supplied

Lots to think about in diary

RE the recent Donny Diary, it’s so nice to see our good old Vulcan back with us, how about our Harrier Jump jet too?

I like to see interesting street names too, keep it up.

I think the Rovers team should wake up or stand down and retire and I too would like the Grand Theatre to be demolished and have a Grand New Theatre soon on Waterdale.

Mr G Parker, St James Street, Doncaster

More letters on Page 26

The Grand has much to offer

RE the Donny Diary Article: “Time to bring down curtain on the Grand”

As chairman of the Friends of the Doncaster Grand Theatre I would like to reply to the above article in last week’s paper.

First of all, the building is a Grade 2 listed building and as such must be kept, wind, watertight and in a reasonable state of repair by the owners, in accordance with the rules of English Heritage, otherwise the local authority can be served with a very heavy penalty.

On a recent inspection by the DMBC conservation officer, he found that repairs to the main roof and the extension roof have been carried out and, over the past few weeks, scaffolding has been erected to the north side of the building and pointing work is in progress.

The paintwork is in a very poor state due to the fact that the bingo people put ordinary paint on top of the original stucco surface. Maybe the person who was taking a stroll round Doncaster should have gone to Spec Savers?

The town has lost so many historic buildings, which were demolished before anybody had time to get them listed. One in particular that stands out was the Reindeer Hotel and Doncaster Clothing Company at the corner of Cleveland Street (opposite the Danum) to be replaced with what can only be described as a concrete and glass monstrosity.

The Friends of the Grand have been trying to negotiate a deal with the owners of the Frenchgate Centre for some time and we are still awaiting their final decision.

The Grand is ideally situated in the town centre, there are ample car parking spaces on the top of the Frenchgate Centre with full security. All buses and trains leave from the adjoining Interchange, without the need to walk through High Street and Hall Gate on busy nights, to get to a theatre. It would be our intention not only to use the building for theatrical productions but for conferences and seminars, backed up by a coffee shop/cafe area within the building. There are already several well-known Yorkshire catering companies who are very keen on this idea.

Hopefully Doncaster will eventually be able to offer more than one venue for cultural events, which is something that has been sadly missing for many years. The Little Theatre does a great job but has limited facilities, I understand that eventually the Civic Theatre will go when the New Performance Venue is completed, but the Grand and the NPV will be able to offer great opportunities to bring different types of theatrical productions to Doncaster.

I think most people will agree with me that The Dome, despite its size, lacks in atmosphere for putting on stage shows and, as stated by Ken Dodd, feels like an oversized aeroplane hangar.

I wonder what has happened to our dear old Sir David Danum, who has always given 100 per cent support to the Grand and to the preservation of Doncaster’s conservation areas. Please, Sir David, come back to our paper.

Margaret Herbert, Chair of Friends of Doncaster Grand Theatre.

Drivers need putting in the picture

I AGREE with Rachel Usher in the reader column of the Free Press, April 7, ‘The council’s treatment of motorists in Bawtry market place is unsatisfactory.’

As a former resident of Bawtry, and a driving licence holder for 45 years, I was astonished to find a ticket on my windscreen for the offence of parking in Bawtry market place between 7.25 and 7.35pm on March 14, 2011.

The chief inspector of police is surely correct in the assertion that there needs to be a better notice to the public of the late night parking charges in Bawtry.

Although no doubt technically correct, the council, an instrument of the electorate, has a moral obligation to ensure that the public has effective notice of any uncommon parking regulations, thus making sure that law-abiding people are not mislead in any way. This clearly is not the case in Bawtry.

Brian McQueen, Alderson Drive, Bennetthorpe.

Road schemes are great news

I HAVE been canvassing Rossington for weeks and on the doors I have found that most people support any new project that will bring much needed jobs to the village.

So, contrary to what the chairman of the parish council says, in Rossington nearly all the people fully support the opportunity for jobs that the proposed Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (Inland Port) will bring. They thoroughly welcome the FARRRS link road from the motorway to Parrott’s Corner as it will have an access road to Bankwood Lane.

The widening of White Rose Way, the Woodfield Plantation road, FARRRS link road and the Inland Port can only benefit the people of Rossington and the south of Doncaster. They will allow a much better access to the rest of Doncaster and the surrounding towns and also lead to the development of 24,000 jobs.

Hilary McNamee, Labour Candidate for Rossington

Parish council isn’t speaking for me

IN reply to Rossington parish councillor Christopher Judd’s letter about his ‘sad heart’ that the Rossington M18 Link Road has been funded and approved, I hope he does not think he is speaking for all Rossington residents. I am very pleased that we will finally be able to access the motorway network that has so far been tantalisingly close, but yet so far away.

In their election leaflet, Chris Judd and his fellow Independent parish council colleagues have proclaimed vote for them ‘for continued progress’. If ‘progress’ means opposing the link road; opposing many local jobs for our community; opposing reclamation of the pit tip eyesore; and opposing expansion of the under used Finningley airport, then my family do not want to vote them back in.

In these cash tight times, the current parish council seem oblivious to imposed spending restrictions and wants to take over where DMBC budget restraints mean sacrifices for all but Rossington Parish Council, proposing to spend even more of our money!

For four months now and counting has the PC paid wages for not cleaning the closed Market Place toilets and proposes an expensive refurbishment; has launched a quarterly chairman’s propaganda magazine; paid to restore hedgerows on private farmers’ boundaries; and continues to pay increasingly more in overheads and administration with no direct benefit for us, the residents! Time for a change and to bring back accountability for the public.

Ms Anne Hoyer. West End Lane Rossington