It’s a disgrace 

Dear Editor,

In reply to Mr Lindsell’s letter of 5th March, I too walk past this eyesore [former Hampshire County Council Computor Suite building] most days with my dog and agree it is a disgrace.

Personally I think it would make a great indoor venue for entertainment such as trampolining which the Town is in desperate need for.

I have seen numerous young ‘individuals’ coming out of that derelict building which must be unsafe. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to imagine what they are doing.

Further along the ‘Sprat and Winkle’ line I am appalled at the mess the council contractors have made of the removal of diseased ash trees. On wet days the path is unpassable.

The tree debris is appalling. There is churned up mud everywhere.
The stream is full of branches and twigs. Another eyesore for the walkers.
These contractors seem to enjoy driving off road. They seem to like churning up the grass in Watermills Park too.

Alan Wright

PM let us down

Dear Editor,

Cancer patients find themselves let down by the NHS due to Boris Johnson’s, Prime Minister, policy of solely focusing on Covid.

Boris Johnson allowed Christmas to go ahead, ignored calls to bring in travel restrictions, and was slow to impose a national lockdown despite knowing about the new deadly variant that spiralled Covid-19 cases out of control in the second wave and overwhelmed the NHS to the point of collapse.

His actions have now resulted in the NHS waiting list reaching a record-high backlog of 4.6m affecting key services including cancer and routine surgery.
It is now going to take a major effort for the over exhausted NHS workforce, on a measly one per cent pay rise, to reduce the shocking waiting list backlog and may take many years to clear at the cost of patients’ lives.

The situation can only get worse if we encounter another wave as restrictions are lifted and people ignore the guidelines. There is a real danger that cancer patients may become the forgotten tragedy of the 21st century. Therefore, what is the Government going to do about it?

Jeannette Schael

Desolated shops

Dear Editor,

A quick ramble around the centre of Andover will show a desolated retail sector. Many shops have gone or will go. Yet this is the tip of the iceberg. Small businesses up and down the UK are in danger. Due to the pandemic, at least one in seven small firms, a massive 906,000 businesses could go bankrupt by April unless they receive additional support.

This would leave 2.5 million people without a job and have a catastrophic impact on our communities. Furthermore, we know small businesses are the major factors in our economic growth and well-being and that includes paying tax which funds the government's expenditure.

Small films have been hit by increasing costs and are struggling under a mountain of red tape including a terrible EU trade deal leading to additional costs and disrupted supply chains.

Yet while the chancellor is being busy talking to the big multinationals on how they have coped with the pandemic, the needs of hard-working people up and down the country who run small businesses that communities rely on have been ignored.

The lack of certainty is not good. Last October the chancellor left business and their employees hanging by thread when he refused to extend furlough until the last possible moment.

The government has left over 700,000 of the smaller companies excluded from any real support as owner-managers of limited companies are excluded from many grants. Unfortunately, the priority of the Conservatives seems to be on tax-exempt freeports and watering down workers’ rights not supporting our small firms.

What do we need to do to ensure that we have small businesses left to grow our recovery after the pandemic? The government should establish a scheme to compensate small firms for the money they are losing due to forced closure.

We should have zero business rates for 2021-22 and give businesses in the retail, hospitality and live events sectors relief on the deferred VAT payments so cash is available as working capital when they are able to open back up. Business support schemes should also be extended to the end of the year.

Locally we need to question where the Andover BID is delivering value for money, and appreciate the lifting of parking charges by TVBC.

Cllr Luigi Gregori,
Charlton Road, Andover

Rich pockets

Dear Editor,

On reading through your paper today I kept coming upon little news segments on blocks of garages that are having planning permission put in to demolish and build ridiculous amounts of flats or houses on, I understand there is a need for housing at present but it’s not for helping solve the need for housing more lining of someone’s pockets.

Aster group that own these garages ask for silly amounts of money each week or month that mean people cannot afford to rent, thus in turn they know that after a few months of unoccupied spaces they can then say they are “under used” put in planning permission and get a big fat pay out to keep their rich pockets full. 

Richard Coverdale, Andover

Church finances

Dear Editor, 

Your issue of 12 March carried a sad farewell to the highly respected parish priest of the Wallops, Vanessa Cole, and a statement about Church finances in Winchester diocese.

The financial cuts are affecting Andover, where it is proposed that the four Anglican vicar posts in the town (though there has been a vacancy at St Michael’s, West Andover for almost two years) will now be reduced to three. The three remaining will appreciate our encouragement and prayers for their very demanding ministry among this town’s around 50,000 residents, along with their fellow leaders in Andover Churches Together.

Down the road, there is a smaller population served by ten Anglican vicars and assistants and Winchester has a cathedral too with a strong Roman Catholic and Free church presence. What a contrast! Stark imbalances like this could be urgently reduced. It does not seem unreasonable to lobby for a just and fair levelling up here up north(-west Hampshire).

Canon Martin Coppen,

A lesson learned 

Dear Editor, 

Do you agree? I feel April is blooming as we come close to hopefully being allowed to escape our closed doors. Escape from shut down, escape from dark nights, cold winds and isolation. 

Primroses have been a gentle, pretty yellow flicker of more to come. Daffodils bob up and down greeting us as we pass on our permitted walks. Tulips beckoned, for which I can’t wait, so I bought a bunch to reflect spring is in the air, to view with pleasure each day.  

The skies are lighter, birds fluttering with a tweet asking for natures help building nests, preparing for parentage. Even pheasants shout for attention. 

A year now since our shutdown began, a whole year for nature to control and remind us of our essential yet natural needs. Fresh air, vegetables, fruits seeding and growing.  

Or just a simple ‘hello’ ‘how are you?’ Have you heard? Did you know? I do feel nature has opened doors, doors to see, to chat, to share, to help. I hope it is a lesson we have all learned, life can stress, life has problems, life can control. We are all on the same course now, as I feel nature controls this virus, as our winter held the virus, do we have our futures and safety, with the vaccines and more? 

Linda Price,