Reader’s letters - Thursday 08 May 2014

Cannon Street on the opening day of the Winckley Weekend Festival, in Preston city centre
Cannon Street on the opening day of the Winckley Weekend Festival, in Preston city centre
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Wrong day for a fun day

Promoting events in order to attract people into town and city centres is normally a good idea during public holiday weekends.

But holding a street market around Winckley Square on the Friday (a normal business day) as well as the Saturday of the May bank holiday weekend was, perhaps, a trifle ill-conceived.

The road closures must, must surely have been disruptive to a number of the non-retail businesses and organisations – including government offices – in the area.

This wasn’t helped by the lack of information about the closures and the absence of clear alternative directions signage.

The inconvenience might have been justified had the area been bustling with activity.

However, during the daytime on Friday at least, there was a distinct lack of ‘bustle’ and, indeed, of market stalls.

The majority of punters who were present appeared to be be-suited types more interested in availing themselves of the ‘refreshments’ at the big marquee in the square than in shopping for vintage knick-knacks.

D Boy-Trotter, Peckham

(name and address supllied)

Why is venue adding charge?

Can you please explain why the Guild Hall has a £2 tariff for use of a debit card when, according to the Consumers Rights (Payments Surcharges) Regulations 2012, charges should not be above the amount it costs to process the transaction.

I have looked at HSBC business tariff where an electronic payment into a small business account is charged at 19p.

If you are on the electronic banking tariff it is free. This suggests Preston Council is in breach of the consumer rights payments surcharges regulations of 2012.

Denis Parkinson, via e-mail

Bad planning of beds strategy

Any strategic thinking and planning by Lancashire NHS Foundation Trust is difficult to understand in relation to £5.7m being spent on sending patients with mental health problems to private hospitals over the last two years (LEP May 1).

This trust closed all in-patient psychiatric wards and services based at the Avondale Unit, Royal Preston Hospitals approximately two years ago. This step was taken long before the building of a large, state of the art psychiatric facility for 154 in-patients beds of Whyndyke, close to the M55 motorway near Blackpool.

Now we are informed hundreds of mental health patients in Lancashire are being referred to private hospitals because of lack of beds in the country.

These beds would have been available had the Avondale Unit remained open until such time as the Blackpool unit had become established (foundation building work has now commenced on this site).

The factors put forward to help us understand this huge expenditure should have been at least anticipated by a mental health trust with dedicated expertise, skills and experience to predict such probabilities. I am sure the facilities provided by private hospitals care meet high quality standards.

However, another essential and over looked aspect of this situation relates to the continuity of patient care. Private hospitals are separate organisations with their own operational systems in regard to patient care planning which are essential for patients with complex and challenging mental health problems, communication and continuity of care are likely to be adversely affected and confusing to patients and their families.

As indicated, it is difficult to understand this situation. However, the facts of the matter would indicate a woefully disappointing approach to planning – and related financial management – with the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust .

Steven Bateman, Fulwood

When village ruled the world

Local residents of the Broughton, and Preston area, may well identify the photograph in the ‘Looking Back’ feature today.

This particular redeveloped dwelling, situated in close proximity to the local police unit on Garstang Road, in 1929 opened as a four position operator switchboard telephone exchange.

However, many will not be aware of the fact that, on November 23, 1964, a revolutionary type of signal exchange opened there to replace the operator switchboard unit.

I recall in my tender years passing there with my father, who was a telecommunications engineer all his life, and informing me of its development in later years. Originally, I recall the premises having green lattice window shutters on the front.

This building became a Crossbar Exchange, developed by the Automatic Telephone And Electric company of Liverpool.

The Broughton installation became the world’s first crossbar exchange, the Post Office allowing the company to connect the experimental switching system to the national network to

enable them to obtain operational data and experience.

Following the official opening in 1964, a visitors book was located at this Broughton exchange at that time, and recorded the visits of many official delegations from many foreign countries, which included; Nigeria, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Venezuela and China in 1965.

In 1969, the civil service status of the Post Office was changed to that of a nationalised industry – to be known as the Post Office Corporation. It was to be run as a commercial activity with the Post Office Telecoms, specifically changed to generate

its own capital investment


To conclude, when passing this point in Broughton, take a little step back in history and

remember that, in 1964, the world’s first revolutionary exchange was inaugurated in Broughton village in these premises, something of which Broughton should be proud.

These details are also

recorded in the British Telecom Museum in London for their

information by myself, alongside the history of development of telecommunications in Preston in 1879 by George Sharples, born in Ribbleton on January 26, 1820, son of a local butcher.

John Siddall, local historian, Fulwood