And another thing… (31 August 2016)

Hospice in the Weald Tunbridge Wells

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Train strike: Please don’t put passenger safety on the line
With regards to the Southern rail dispute concerning guards and the closing of train doors, from personal experience I have seen the vital importance of having a separate pair of eyes from the driver in his cab.’

Having witnessed a passenger trapped by the elbow, the train moved forward with the terrified woman yanking at her arm, which was stuck fast in the door.

It is absolutely essential to have an alert second pair of eyes that can see the full length of the train before closing the doors.

My point is this: The engine was on a right-hand bend, making it impossible for the driver to see the full length of the train, or that passengers were still alighting.

Thankfully, the woman’s damaged arm was released after a few yards’ terrifying ‘walk’ by another passenger banging on the button.

It is vital that GTR Chief Executive Charles Horton realises the importance of these facts. They should not be ignored.

Mrs June Moore
Via email

Tourism: We don’t use information centres
Regarding your front page last week, I wonder who drew the conclusion that footfall in the Visitor Information Centre could be extrapolated to a view that tourism in Tunbridge Wells had fallen by 30 per cent?

With so much information now available on the internet, most people now plan their visits ahead and no longer rely on brochures.

So visitor numbers may have doubled, trebled, or halved, without any of them going into the Information Centre.

I do hope that the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council do not rely on this type of information to plan the future…or do they?

Surely there is more reliable and directly related information available to provide meaningful data on the investment the town should be making.

John T Reeves
Via email

Tourism: Empty Corn Exchange is a disgrace
I am not surprised to see the 30 per cent decrease in visitors to the Visitor Information Centre. I really don’t think the blame should be put down to poor weather and after-effects of European terror attacks.

It is mainly down to the fact that the Information Centre has been allocated tiny premises in an otherwise vacant Corn Exchange. There is nothing else in this wonderful, huge building except the VIC!

I wonder how many people even realise it is there. It is a disgrace to the town that the Corn Exchange is still not being utilised.

It is also a sad state of affairs for our royal spa town, when the centre is pushed into the background. I have visited many such facilities around the country, which are usually in prime locations to show the town is proud to offer many attractions and advice locally and nationally.

Richard Snow
Via email

Tourism: Visitor centre is too hidden away
On last week’s front page, you state that tourist numbers are down based on ‘the number of visitors seeking information’. This is very confusing. Surely the number of visitors seeking information is not proof of a decline in people visiting the town.

Anecdotally I was in The Pantiles last week and I overheard a couple say that they couldn’t find the Visitor Information Centre (VIC). So perhaps the problem is that the VIC is not clearly signposted, not that the numbers are down.

My wife and I visited Dover, Sandwich and Canterbury earlier this week. We did not go to a VIC – we did all our research on the internet. But we definitely visited those towns. Perhaps that’s the reality.

David Marshall
Via email

NHS: Why do taxpayers have to foot the bill
What, may I ask, is the point of fining Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust £40,000 (Trust fined £40K after spying on doctor, August 24) when it has a deficit of £25million and is apparently being sued for £850,000 by one of its doctors, Lorna Hayden? Although one has to wonder why she had no personal insurance to cover her injury.

Who thought of the surveillance? Who ordered it? Who carried it out? If indeed it was a crime, they are the guilty ones, and ought to be named, shamed, fined and dismissed. Why should the innocent taxpayer have to pay up?

I asked similar questions in April after Kent Police were fined, but no one answered then and I daresay no one will answer now. However, the public have a right to know who it is that has landed them with these bills.

Maxwell Macfarlane
Via email

NHS: Declare all the PFIs null and void
Hear hear, for Colin Bullen’s letter on Tunbridge Wells Hospital at Pembury (August 17). Can I add some further comments in endorsement?

PFIs were indeed introduced by a Labour government, but they were greedily developed by subsequent Tories – and they went for them like a drunk in a distillery.

If the reason for the money crisis in this, and many other, hospitals is because of crippling PFI payments, then the government is cynical to let them persist. Patients are being denied treatment.

The government can solve it at a stroke: Abrogate the arrangement, declare them null and void, pay these companies off and be shot of them.

Then get in company restructuring specialists to sort out the infrastructure: cut the dead wood; cut the layers of bureaucrats; cut the bonuses; run the place as though it was a business with paying customers.

Take out that ‘you’re getting it for nothing’ mentality that persists in non-medical strata. Give the hospital back to the specialists.

My own experiences with Pembury can be divided neatly into two. Treatment, when we finally get to it, is excellent; professional, caring staff handing out good treatment. But the run-up, oh dear – the tedious, inefficient, bureaucratic process is the stuff of nightmares.

Could these managers and their staffs command their extraordinary salaries in the private sector?

There is no point in governments promising to spend, or claiming to have spent more money on the NHS. Under no circumstances continue to throw money at a model that is not fit for purpose.

Ralph Steerpike
Via email

EU: In search of a balanced viewpoint
Mr Moorhouse (August 17) says he intends to deprive himself of French cheeses, wines and holidays in response to some alleged action by Mr Jean-Claude Juncker. But since the President of the European Commission is a Luxemburger, it is not very clear why Mr Moorhouse wishes to take his revenge on the French.

In any case, does not the old adage of ‘cutting off one’s nose etc.’ apply? His mention of a balance sheet though does engender a thought about having a bookkeeping account kept on the reactions to Brexit: something on the following lines perhaps:

Debit: (a) Prices of all imports including food and fuel up by 10 per cent, representing the devaluation of our currency. Further tariff charges to be added later if we don’t access the single market with its commitment to observe the rules on free movement of people;

(b) Lower pensions since bond yields have fallen due to the Brexit decision;

(c) Interest on savings reduced to virtually nothing because of new economic woes due to Brexit;

(d) Continuous talk of recession in what was a thriving economy;

(e) Startling increase in hate crimes against people with foreign names or accents;

(f) A failed Prime Minister whose reckless gamble will have ruinous consequences for the whole country and a possible break-up of the United Kingdom.

Credit: (a) The smug, self-satisfied, smirking visage of Mr Farage as seen on TV and in the papers;

(b) Receipt of heartiest congratulations from Mr Putin and Madame Le Pen, both well known for their democratic ideals.

Faced with an account such as the above, any prudent person would reverse gear and back away from Brexit as quickly as possible. Why don’t we follow suit?

Alexander Magnus
Via email

EU: It takes time to gauge changes
It is absurd for your Olly Barham (August 17) to attempt to make points concerning the immediate economic results of Brexit. Has he not noticed that, as yet, nothing has changed and we are still within the EU? The time to make judgements will be after we have been free of rule from Brussels for at least a few years.
He mentions that a majority of Tunbridge Wells residents voted to remain but he should not forget that the majority of those living in Kent, and indeed in England, voted to leave.

Colin Bullen
Via email

Devolution: Another layer of bureaucracy
Abraham Hoxley (August 17) asked how the proposed devolved powers will be administered. The answer’s really very simple: Further layers of officials, busybodies, jobsworths, all-consuming monies that are intended to be spent on services. We may be sure that this devolution will not have a commensurate slimming-down of the bureaucracy higher up the chain.

If we took £1,000 and simply passed it through the hands of three downward-funnelling departments, how much would be left to be spent on something worthwhile?

John Ward Moorhouse
Tunbridge Wells

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