Readers' letters - March 8
Solving problem of the freezing market
Few people in Preston will be more glad that the weather is milder this week than the traders in the new Market Hall, who last week endured sub-zero temperatures.
Water pipes to sinks froze.
Some traders had to stop work for health reasons.
Customers hurried through as fast as they could.
This doesn’t seem to be consistent with an indoor market, which is what the traders are paying for in their leases.
I’m not an architect or town planner, but I wonder if the difficulty in heating the hall adequately might arise from the fact that it is open to the elements under the eaves at either end of the hall.
Even as I write, I can’t quite believe that this is a design feature, but every week when I have visited it, I have looked up and double-checked, and yes, instead of gables, there are large gaps under the roof at either end, allowing free circulation of whatever icy winds come along.
Last week’s weather was exceptional in the force of the wind, not in the low temperatures. We have had colder winters in the last few years.
The traders are paying higher rates than they were for the old hall, which was much warmer, and considerably higher rates than for outdoor stall pitches.
Moreover, they are billed for any heating that they use.
Perhaps the insertion of an internal ceiling at about 3m height might solve the problem? It would have to be made of glass or Perspex so that the listed roof can still be seen.
Perhaps the council staff tasked with improving the temperature in the Market Hall might spur themselves on by taking their laptops and sitting and working in one of the café areas.
In the meantime, it seems only fair that, until the council can provide working conditions consistent with the Indoor Market that the traders are paying for, they should either waive the rent payments, or lower them to the Outdoor Market rates.
In addition, perhaps the council would take it upon itself to pay for all internal heating of the Market Hall, not just the (malfunctioning) heaters above the doors.
Disappointing Question Time
Question Time last week came from Blackpool and I tuned in with interest.
The panel comprised three senior politicians and two young TV personalities, and after several questions about Brexit, along came fracking. Given that this is the hot topic of the area, and important across the country, it was surprising that only one of the panel, MP Owen Smith, had bothered to ‘do his homework’ on the subject.
It is a matter of record that Preese Hall is the only well in the UK that has ever been high volume hydraulically fractured, and that this resulted in tremors, the largest of which deformed the well over a significant interval (the cement bonding was damaged).
The British Geological Survey website records that, altogether, there were 58 tremors, one of these being as late as August, many months after the fracking had occurred.
None of these facts were brought out, and I watched with a range of emotions as some members of the panel authoritatively stated things that were completely wrong. Not even David Dimbleby knew that a tremor felt at the surface is unimportant compared to the damage to the well.
Looking back on the programme, I find it quite insulting that they were not better informed. It shows a disinterest and disdain for the area, and destroys their own credibility when they speak on other topics.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is holding an inquiry into planning guidance about fracking and whether applications should be decided locally or nationally. Ken Clarke and Nigel Farage demonstrated that Westminster is a long way away, and what happens in the North West is unimportant to them – and that is exactly why decisions about fracking must not be removed from local and county councils.
If you have a few minutes free, please write to the DCLG inquiry to tell them this.
Unhappy with club’s proposal
Last September, when the first reported thoughts on using the Garstang Show Field as an overflow pitch for Garstang RUFC’s junior training programme were mooted, the use of “two to three hours on a Sunday morning” was quoted.
Now the Rugby Club has been required to make an application for ‘change of use’ (from agricultural land to winter sports field), we discover their intention is to use it on two weeknights a week (with floodlights, for training), plus all day Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays for match fixtures.
Doesn’t quite equate to two to three hours on a Sunday morning does it?
Only a few years ago we watched as the central area of the field was drained, nurtured and transformed into a showpiece arena, helping to make the Garstang Agricultural Show the great event we are fortunate to have in our midst. Last October, Garstang RUFC planted its rugby posts right into the site of all that hard work.
Is this ‘4-mile walk’ a record?
I walked from Bare to Lancaster and, under Carlisle Bridge, I noticed a signpost telling me I was 22 miles from Kendal. Soon after, at the Millennium Bridge, another sign informed me I was 18 miles from Kendal. Four miles nearer after a five-minute walk. It this a record for a septuagenarian?