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Monday, 06 July 2015

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‘As Gateway plans are redrawn please consider garage’s future’

SIR – After detailed objections from myself and the co-owner of Station Garage, the plan for the Whitehaven Transport Interchange has been withdrawn and ‘gone back to the drawing board’.

andy garageangry
protest: Bob Stephenson, left, with staff Keith Burns, Robert Smith and Dean Lunn outside the garage

We included letters from customers, training partners, and a petition with over 1,000 names. This an indication of the overwhelming public support for our garage to remain on-site or be relocated locally. Many times this number of signatures could have been provided and I write to thank customers and public for their support.

I would also like to provide some further detail regarding Station Garage and the Transport Interchange plan as I found some members of the public were misinformed. The plan does not involve the vacant and derelict buildings on the main approach road to Whitehaven. The site development area is the Tesco filling station/garage, Station Garage and the Network Rail car park on the Station Road only. All the derelict buildings on the main road which can only be described as a disgrace to the ‘gateway’ to Whitehaven remain untouched by the scheme.

This makes it even more unacceptable that my lifetime’s work at Station Garage is proposed to be destroyed by the planning application and no relocation site has been offered. I would enhance the garage to remain, if requested, or relocate and even enhance suitable local derelict buildings.

The garage is to be demolished and the site transferred to Network Rail to provide some extra car parking spaces. The, at present free, car park will then be ‘Pay and Display’ with the revenue going to Network Rail.

In contrast, the Tesco filling station/garage is to be relocated, I understand. I do not know how this was achieved but I have made enquiries to the county council and await reply. The county council have told me repeatedly the Interchange scheme has nothing to do with Tesco. When my surveyor quoted from The Whitehaven News articles and comments linking the Interchange plan with Tesco, he and my solicitor were told by the county council not to believe what you read in the local press. I just don’t know what to believe anymore.

I have nothing against any redevelopment of Tesco or the general aspirations of the Interchange Scheme. However, local small businesses must be given proper consideration or they will not survive and we will all be driven to the supermarket car park.

I have been threatened with a Compulsory Purchase Order since the outset of the scheme, and told it was to be served. I now understand this was before authority for such action was sought from any councillors. This has caused untold stress to myself and staff. I was left with no alternative but to object to the scheme in order for the business to continue. The staff at Copeland Council have shown a helpful attitude and our MP Jamie Reed and the Federation of Small Businesses are attempting to assist us.

As the planning application is now to be redrawn it would make perfect sense for the county council to give Station Garage proper consideration to enable this business, which has been established for over 30 years, to survive. I am hopeful a satisfactory resolution can be found.

Station Garage
Station Road, Whitehaven


SIR – Comments with regards to the talkback comments posted in The Whitehaven News (January 20) by A Fairfax and then again by the Oupatient Nurses on January 27.

I open this firstly in asking all of the individuals calling for the reduction or removal of services at the West Cumberland Hospital – do you live in or around the Whitehaven area or have relatives who live in this area?

To reduce services or remove the plans for the rebuild of WCH is shocking, the thought of it just makes you hope and pray that nothing ever happens to you or your family! I ask any of the senior management, if (God forbid) anything was to happen to one of your family members would you like to make a 40+ mile journey to your nearest hospital in a life or death situation? How would you feel making this journey once or even twice a day in order to go and visit a family member? Has anyone thought about the increase of road traffic accidents involving emergency vehicles, what would happen if an ambulance (carrying a seriously ill patient) was involved in an accident on the awful roads to Carlisle late at night? Not to mention the dependency on the services required in this area during last year? These are all question that have to be asked.

The services provided by the nurses at the West Cumberland Hospital are nothing short of excellent and to remove these services and take these caring people out of these positions would be idiotic. I have been a patient who has attended the WCH on a number of occasions, mostly on the Outpatients Dept where I can say that the nurses on that department (not forgetting other wards and departments) provide an excellent service. As soon as you enter the department you are immediately made to feel at ease by the staff.

Going forward, we need to allow our doctors and nurses to run an excellent NHS hospital, all of whom are more than capable. Maybe the focus needs to be diverted from the jobs of nurses and concentrate on whether the amount of senior management that are in place are needed? We also need to ensure that when filling positions within the NHS we do that with individuals who fit the post profile – to be able to work in a caring profession!

Name and address supplied

SIR – I have worked at the West Cumberland Hospital for the past 20 years and have recently been approached by staff from all departments/wards (who know I am also the county councillor for the Hensingham ward) dismayed at the low morale of staff.

I can honestly say that this is the worst time in terms of staff morale that I can remember in my 20 years working there.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not for one minute knocking the dedication of my colleagues who always put the needs of the public first, and there are pockets of good practice.

The team-building programme run by Mike Walker and his team help different departments network more as a team.

Sadly, though, I have to say the negatives are outweighing the positives at the moment. For instance, people are coming to work each day looking at half the hospital knocked down yet the work to rebuild it put on hold.

Now I know I am a Labour councillor but facts are facts – before the last election the money was there to rebuild it. It’s the new Con-Dem government that has caused the delay. Staff have all had to move into what is remaining and so the perception is that we are all managing so the new-build simply won’t happen. I don’t buy into this, and I am confident that the new-build will start again in the summer, and I tell staff this if they ask my opinion.

Cumbria County Councillor
Hensingham district

SIR – I recently had to spend a couple of days in West Cumberland Hospital with a bit of heart trouble. I must say that the attention that I received from the ambulance staff, A & E doctors & nurses and Coronary Care Unit staff was second to none. I would just like to thank them all (far too many to mention) for their care, attention, patience and hard work. This just shows that the NHS still works.

I will play a record for them next Tuesday 5pm until 6.30pm, with any requests.

Chair Hospital Radio Haven


SIR – The discussion re the safe long-term disposal of radioactive waste continues, and we are all requested to give our views etc. I recall reading a letter to your letters page some time ago now, in which the correspondent suggested consideration of the benefits of a disposal facility inside mountains in our region – I seem to recall he suggested Black Combe.

Since then, I have seen no other references to this idea, although I always read everything I see which is relevant (such as, most recently, the winter newsletter of West Cumbria MRWS). This leads me to suspect that the idea is not even considered worthy of serious investigation, and I wonder why.

The benefits, briefly, were:

Geology – the mountains have been there for millions of years, so are likely to remain sound for the future.

Water penetration – would not happen. A waterproofed chamber would be at or above ground level, while being deep inside a mountain.

Cost – hugely less than ‘underground’ disposal. Drilling operations would be basically horizontal as opposed to vertical.

Visual impact – minimal. And final sealing could be done in such a way that future access/retrieval could be achieved if necessary.

Safety/security – once again we are talking of deep inside a mountain, in a secure chamber.

I seem to recall your earlier correspondent saying that this type of disposal was already in use in other countries, which only adds weight to the proposition for this country. Basically, I am concerned that this proposal could be overlooked or disregarded – because if it is a non-starter, I would love to know why!

Old Shore Road, Drigg

SIR – Many people in Copeland are still waiting for the council to publicise who was the instigator in forming the WC-MRWS partnership.

All the councillors are aware of the facts from the Nirex enquiry and cannot plead ignorance over this issue.

How can councillors agree to an expression of interest in a repository for high level waste while at the same time refusing to agree to any enquiry and completely ignoring the findings of the Nirex enquiry?

Surely there is one councillor who realises this is the wrong approach and has got enough self respect to publicly stand up and say so.

Headlands Drive
Hillcrest, Whitehaven


SIR – I wonder if one of your readers would be so kind as to supply Stagecoach drivers with a map showing them where to find Moor Row.

At the very least, perhaps Stagecoach management could provide their drivers with an instruction that the morning Service 30 Seascale to Lakes College is actually supposed to come into Moor Row and to leave at 08.21. Currently, the impression given is that drivers can decide on a whim whether or not to come into the village. When they do, they can leave early if they wish to. Who cares about the advertised timetable – it’s only Moor Row?

Whilst I am sure that in reality, drivers do not have this freedom of choice, their managers seem incapable of ensuring that the correct route is followed. This is the one bus each day Stagecoach run to the village and I can testify that on many occasions it does not appear. I and the other seven or eight people waiting for the bus are given a variety of excuses for its non-appearance. None of which are ever satisfactory. Sometimes we are even told that the bus did come. I can only assume that on those days Stagecoach must have sent the invisible bus they own and we all let it pass us by without indicating to the driver we wanted to board!

Incidentally, this service is subsidised by Cumbria County Council – I expect using some of my and your other readers’ Council Tax.

Church Street, Moor Row


SIR – At the moment my home is being renovated by Home Group. This includes heating and partial rewire and bathroom.

The problem is that Home Group only give tenants £150 towards the cost of redecorating a whole house, leaving tenants with a bill running into hundreds of pounds to get their home back to normal.

Suggestions were made to me to paint over bare plaster patches on wallpapered areas or they could replicate the wallpaper pattern in the plaster patches. At this point I showed the Home Group representative the door.

Home Group should put right any damage caused from this work, but they will not pay the full costs or supply their own decorator to put it right, leaving me with a large bill at the end of the work.

Kier Hardie Avenue, Cleator Moor


SIR – Sometimes words of criticism say far more about the person who wrote them than the object of the criticised. The comments about myself by Eileen Weir in The Whitehaven News letters page on January 27 are a good example.

Ms Weir and myself had both previously written about the Coalition Government’s proposals on how to modernise the coastguard service. I was trying to make two points. First, that these proposals are an attempt to refocus resources, not simply cut them, and actually involve significant increases in front-line services in some areas, such as coastguard officers. And second, that they are open for public consultation until 4pm on March 25, and I gave the contact details so that anyone with concerns or views on this issue can find out the full details of what is actually proposed and feed those concerns back to the government.

The petty personal attack on myself which formed the majority of Ms Weir’s letter does not deserve the dignity of a reply.

However, it is important that anyone who has something constructive to say about how we can more effectively save lives at sea does take part in the consultation. Because of the importance of this, and in case there are people who see this letter and missed the one on January 20, can I please take the liberty of asking you to publish again the contact details through which your readers can find out what is proposed, or feed in their views and concerns. They can do so online at www.mcga.gov.uk

Paper copies of the proposals can be ordered at coastguard.consultation@mcga.gov.uk or by ringing 02380 839 587, or you can write asking for the documents or to submit your views at: HM Coastguard Modernisation Consultation, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Spring Place, Bay 2/13, 105 Commercial Road, Southampton SO15 1EG.

Foxhouses Road, Whitehaven


SIR – I am writing in response to the social media topic that is currently being discussed on The Whitehaven News website. They pose the question – is the line between work and play becoming blurred? Personally, I think social media can now be seen as one of the most important interaction tools that could be used by businesses and if they are not using it to their advantage, they should definitely start.

Social media has taken over everything; for example it now takes a news story five minutes at the most to get round the world through social media, whereas you used to have to wait until it was broadcast on the next news channel or printed in the next newspaper to find anything out.

Social media is so important and vital for the success of a business, so does it really matter if the line between work and play is becoming blurred? As long as the tool is helping boost the success of the business then I say full steam ahead with it.

High Road, Kells


SIR – So you want to sell our forest heritage Mr Cameron? The ‘big society’ says no!

Winder Gate, Frizington


SIR – As a long-since retired employee of UKAEA, Sellafield, I have been looking for a copy of a book that was published way back in 1957. It shows many photos of Calder Hall and the old Windscale piles (all in black and white in those days), and was entitled “Cumberland faces the Future”. It was a Cumberland Industrial Handbook, was 140 pages long and was published by J Burrows & Co Ltd for the Cumberland Development Council Authority.

If any reader has an old copy on their bookshelves and no longer wants it, I would be grateful to make contact, either via The Whitehaven News or directly with me via e-mail.



SIR – We refer to the article in last week’s Whitehaven News on how to become a councillor. We urge anyone interested in becoming a councillor (parish and borough council elections are in May) to attend the council-organised advice sessions in Whitehaven on February 10 and Millom on February 17.

If anyone is unable, or does not want to attend any of the advice sessions being run by the council on a strictly non-partisan basis, then perhaps we could give you an insight into the work we do as independent councillors of Copeland Borough Council (obviously this invitation also includes any persons who do attend the advice sessions).

We are actively looking for people to contest borough council seats as independent candidates and are willing to provide any support and guidance that we can. We think that fundamental changes need to be made at the council and if you want to see change, then this may be your opportunity. If enough independent councillors are elected at the May poll then this may be possible.

Discontented existing Labour and Conservative Councillors may also apply.

If you are interested then please call Brian Dixon on 01946 834434; Sam Meteer on 01946 820404; or Graham Sunderland on 01946 831031.

Independent Councillors, Copeland Borough Council


SIR – Will the person who left a parcel of dog excrement on our door step with a note saying “this belongs to your dog” get their facts right. We do not have a dog.

Name supplied
Laurel Bank, The Highlands, Whitehaven


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