Reader’s letters - Wednesday 26 February 2014

Cuerden Hall
Cuerden Hall
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Risk to ancient woodland

I have read that the Sue Ryder Care Foundation, at Cuerden Hall, has re-submitted two applications for development.

The first application is to fell ancient woodland on a site, deemed as a ‘historical environmental record’ at Lancashire County Council’s archaeological department, to enable them to build a new 62-bed nursing home. There is a permanent tree preservation order where they want to build their new building, and it is known as Lady Hoghton’s plantations on Shady Lane. It was named by her son Robert Townley Parker, once MP of Lancashire in 1837. The second application is to develop the Cuerden Hall, a grade II* listed building, into flats, housing and car parks.

I would like to remind Lancashire County Council and the planning department at Chorley Borough Council that Cuerden Hall, plus land, was sold to the Sue Ryder Foundation for a very small amount in 1985 by, the now defunct, Commission for New Towns government department.

Cuerden Hall was once a government-owned building paid for by the tax-payers.

The archaeological site has been neglected for decades, plus the old tunnel, under Cuerden Hall Drive, has been recorded in the past as a hibernation area for bats. Will the heavy plant vehicles destroy this historical site? Berkeley Drive and Cuerden Close are private and will not sustain this amount of traffic. Shady Lane and Nell Lane are narrow and are constantly being repaired due to potholes and flooding.

The charity says it is a special case – surely the destruction of wildlife habitats is also a special case. I understand they have to find an alternative, as the building is no longer fit for use as a nursing home, but they need to build their new home on a brown site location, near to better transport facilities and services for their residents and staff.

I do not want to see Cuerden Hall suffer a similar demise to Clayton Hall in the 1970s. Give the land to the park to look after, find an alternative site for their, much needed, nursing home, and give Cuerden Hall back to the people of Chorley, just like Astley Hall. This is our heritage, a beautiful ecosystem and much loved area. If this application is given the go-ahead, I hope it will not open the floodgates for other developers to build on areas such as this.

A very unhappy resident, Cuerden

Have we got our priorities right?

I have over the years had letters published on a wide ranging number of subjects and only rarely get much response to them, however I wrote implying criticism of our young royals and get two reactions in the same day’s issue (LEP February 14).

I find it rather sad that, whilst your readers are not moved by subjects such as the ongoing ‘privatisation’ of our NHS, food banks, and other things that cause many of their countrymen and women extreme hardships, the only thing that moves them is a critical comment about a pair of pleasant enough but privileged people. Says quite a lot about our present society doesn’t it!

Jeff McCann, Hoghton

Support ‘Robin Hood’ shop levy

This week’s new figures on shop vacancies in our region make for worrying reading. Although nationally shop vacancy has declined, in the North West vacancy rates have increased. The vacancy rate now stands at 17 per cent, more than twice the percentage in London. The North West Green Party would like to see more support for small independent shops that are in direct competition with big chains. Independent shops are vitally important to the community; they provide more employment, money spent stays in the local area, and shoppers don’t need to use their cars to get to them.

We’re reiterating our call for councils to support the ‘Robin Hood’ levy proposed by Local Works. This would see supermarkets with rateable values of more than £500,000 paying an additional 8.5 per cent on business rates. It’s only fair big supermarkets invest some of their massive profits in local communities to protect our high streets from further decline.

Peter Cranie, North West Green Party European elections candidate

My summer job with Sir Tom

I returned home to Higher Bartle from Durham after completing my first year as a student in 1978.

I was looking for a summer job and, whilst driving down Lytham Road, I decided to call in at Tom Finney’s offices. I asked at reception if there were any jobs available for students. The receptionist said she would have a word with the boss and came back to say that Mr Finney would see me.

I was shown into his office and sat down for what turned out to be a chat more than an interview. I was playing cricket for Preston at the time and we spent most of our time talking about how that was going.

Eventually Tom said that, although he’d never taken on a student before, he thought it was worth a go and took me on as a plumber’s mate at £1 an hour.

Two memories stand out. Tom would regularly check the stores area and if he ever found a nut, bolt or screw on the floor, he would be sure to pick it up and replace it in its storage box. A good example of the ‘waste not want not’ philosophy ingrained in the people of his generation, and something we would do well to think about in today’s throwaway society.

The second memory is that, wherever we went around Preston in the van with the Finney’s Plumbers livery on the side, passers-by would seek us out to ask ‘how’s Tom?’ – a clear demonstration of the esteem in which he was held.

I close by quoting from a tribute piece by Paul Fletcher, a BBC journalist: ‘Preston has lost its favourite son, a man who gave Prestonians pride in the place from which they come. It was as though a little of the esteem and respect in which Finney was held rubbed off on all of them’. I think we all feel like that.

Stewart Taylor, Burley in Wharfedale

Delight at new European rules

Recently, there have been sharp rises in food prices in the UK and around the world, driving millions of people into poverty and hunger. One of the reasons for this is that big banks have been betting on food prices in

order to make a quick buck.

The Central Lancashire World Development Movement group has been taking part in a long campaign to curb food speculation. So we are delighted that European legislation to stop banks gambling on hunger has finally been agreed. Campaigning for change can be hard work. But when you win, it makes the letter-writing, meetings with MPs and MEPs, organising public talks, and dressing up to get the issue across worthwhile.

Janet Ramsay, Central Lancashire World Development Movement