This week’s Letters

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Plan to demolish modern design church is a disgrace

The proposition to demolish the modern design church at Coffee Hall is a disgrace. I think that the Catholic Church owners of the building need to have a rethink.

For an organisation that historically has so hugely influenced and contributed to western culture to reduce itself to acting like an irresponsible and careless slum landlord is wholly depressing. But the proposed demolition raises an important point.

The nature of Milton Keynes is that it was built within one generation and it thus contains more modern buildings than the average city for its size. The risk is that through not really noticing them we fail to recognise their eventual historical worth.

Most of us find it easy enough to admire, for example, Georgian and Victorian architecture and support their protection.

But it is the case that, until fairly recently, Victorian buildings, for example, were not seen as worth keeping.

We can easily relate to the concept of ‘old heritage’ that looks after old buildings by having them nationally “listed” and thus legally protected, but what about the buildings of our own time?

Building conservation is an evolving event and one of its current concerns is with what might be termed ‘new heritage’.

Forward-thinking local authorities are now interested in ensuring that good buildings of our own time are not put at risk of demolition or mutilation until we can determine at some future date whether we wish to retain them. Several have introduced a “local listing” system basically to protect modern buildings and allow time to pass for their worth to emerge.

I understand that our MK City Council is ‘minded’ to introduce in the near future a system of “local listing”.

Given the unique design of the Coffee Hall Church, it would be a good idea for our council to signal its support in principle that it would figure in its eventual local listing system.

By Mike O’Sullivan on email

Big thank you for help to clear snow

I’d just like to say a big ‘well done’ to the two youngsters who were going around Wolverton on Sunday clearing snow from people’s front paths. They wouldn’t accept payment, they were just doing it to be nice.

People are quick to complain about the yobbish youth of today, but it’s important to acknowledge and appreciate the vast majority who don’t fit that stereotype.

Name and address supplied

All credit for NHS in care of our aunt

In these days of increasing criticism of the National Health Service, particularly in its treatment of the elderly, we wish to put on record our recent experience of it.

Our elderly aunt, Mary Saxon, who has since died, was in the care of the Windsor Intermediate Care Unit in Whalley Drive for some weeks recently. Her needs were many and the care she received there was exemplary and a credit to the service. From the head of the unit to the cleaners, nothing was too much trouble for them. Also, they were friendly and welcoming to visitors at all times.

Some of the current criticism of the NHS may be justified but certainly not in this instance. Our thanks to them all.

David and Veronica Shewry, Great Holm

Where is respect for historic properties?

Few would dispute John Lewis’ contribution, as a responsible business, to British society. That is why we are surprised and disappointed that you are prepared to harm the most important listed building in Milton Keynes.

Certainly, we welcome fresh investment in the city centre, but not at the cost of the national heritage. English Heritage, the 20th Century Society and some of the original architects are all convinced the plans will cause significant harm to Middleton Hall, an outstanding feature of the listed shopping centre.

That, in turn, will diminish the heritage value and continuing appeal of the whole building.

Since quality architecture always pays for itself, and towns with a distinctive character always attract more visitors, this appears to be a self-defeating move. Protecting the city’s heritage can only enhance your reputation and profitability.

The centre:mk is still a highly successful regional shopping centre, and much of that is due to the feeling of light and space, the greenery, public art, and everything the original design provided in abundance. Everything, in fact, that Mary Portas is currently calling on to revive our ailing high streets.

Alas, the free parking is long gone, but the original, generous spirit of the building remains, especially at “the John Lewis’ end” of the building. We ask you now, even at this late hour, to reconsider your designs.

‘Next’ were recently willing to alter its plans to protect this important listed building. Surely John Lewis, which respects its historic properties in London, should be willing to do the same for Milton Keynes?

15 MK residents, by email

It’s clear the reforms are going ahead

Last week the Royal College of Nursing made a big decision: It decided to call for the Government’s Health and Social Care Bill to be abandoned.

For a long time we did not oppose the reforms as a whole and worked hard to engage with the Government at every stage of the reform process in order to get nurses’ concerns taken into account.

Unfortunately, it is now clear to us the reforms are going ahead in Milton Keynes and beyond without the genuine concerns of nurses and other NHS staff being listened to at all. This view has now been backed up by an all-party group of MPs, the Parliamentary Health Committee, which also believes the Bill has caused harm to the NHS.

The recent announcement that NHS hospitals will now be able to get 49 per cent of their income from private patients has alarmed us, raising fears NHS patients will end up forced to queue for treatments behind those who can afford to pay. We also believe this complex and costly reform process cannot take place at the same time as the current drive to save £20bn in the NHS by 2014 without seriously destabilising the NHS and depriving patients of the care they deserve right now. In England alone, 48,000 posts are to be cut, which will undoubtedly deeply affect patient care.

It has been suggested the RCN is opposed to the Bill because it is unhappy about changes to NHS pensions, but this is false. It is not about vested interests but about deep and honest concerns about the state of the health service and the impact on patients and staff.

Patricia Marquis, Royal College of Nursing

Thanks for support given to city gallery

AIM for Art Gallery would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have been involved with us over the last three and a half years.

> The countless visitors who have come through our doors and made us vibrant and viable

> Our artists and volunteers who have contributed to our initiative so unreservedly

> Milton Keynes Council whose support made us sustainable

> John Lewis plc, Milton Keynes Community Foundation and David Lock Associates whose sponsorship contributed so much to the diversity of our exhibition

> The Citizen for its many wonderful write-ups

But most of all to:

> The centre:mk, whose vision, guidance and generosity has made it all possible

AIM, by email

A great bunch of people to the rescue

As an elderly lady who relies on her scooter, I would like to say a big thank you to Tracy and colleagues at Milton Keynes Hospital for their help when my scooter developed a puncture, what a great bunch of people.

RD, Eaglestone

So much for the care of our elderly

The price of our disabled badges is going up 500 per cent. Now we have to pay to park in disabled bays, we are paying twice. So much for care for the elderly. What do our councillors have to say about that?

K Newton, Bletchley

MK has become ugly with ugly buildings

To whoever controls the landscape contractors: I was just wondering why Milton Keynes is being made to look so ugly in a lot of places due to the poor management of your contracted landscape ‘gardeners’.

On your website it states “We work in partnership with many small local contractors to ensure the city’s parks and green spaces are attractive”

“Attractive”? I’ve lived in Milton Keynes for about 17 years and used to love the trees and all the green areas but these last couple of years all I’ve been seeing is devastation brought to a lot of previously lovely looking places. Milton Keynes used to use its fantastic areas of natural beauty to encourage people to come into the area.

You’ve exposed people’s homes in a lot of detrimental ways.

The trees and bushes would have been good windbreaks and kept the noise of traffic etc, to a minimum with the home owners losing a great deal of privacy they enjoyed previous to the work being carried out.

Milton Keynes used to be a nice place to drive through but you have made it a very ugly place littered with ugly buildings that were previously hidden from sight and houses on some of our rougher estates on show for everyone to look down on.

I know you have to control over the growth of trees and plant life to stop it becoming too overgrown but the amount of controlling you allow your contractors do is ridiculous.

John Martin, by email

0845 numbers not acceptable

Could Milton Keynes Council use its good wisdom to provide its customers with a local 01908 number instead of an 0845 number.

It is just not acceptable that of all organisations, a local council converts its local phone numbers into non-geographic 0845 numbers.

Most people who contact the council are customers who live inside the Milton Keynes Council area. So it makes no sense and is actually costing citizens extra to talk to the council when using an 0845 number.

An 0845 (non geographic) number is a lot more expensive and designed for people calling from outside the area.

Sunny Street, by email

Extension would be thin end of wedge

The letter from the John Lewis Partner, Citizen, February 2, suggested that the John Lewis extension will not adversely affect Middleton Hall, as it is merely absorbing the area under the colonnade. If this, were only true.

Eliminating the space under the colonnade means that the pedestrian thoroughfare area outside the John Lewis store will need to expand into Middleton Hall to satisfy health and safety regulations.

Accordingly, this will reduce the available space for exhibitions etc. in the hall.

Presently, the centre:mk’s Shopping Management Company is seeking planning permission to absorb the colonnade opposite John Lewis into the shop units there. Also, It is seeking permission for one of the units to be a restaurant with its dining area extending into Middleton Hall. Clearly, if allowed to go ahead, such alterations will reduce the exhibition space in the hall even further.

When the SMC proposed the so-called improvements to Queen’s Court, some six years ago, it announced plans to enlarge the John Lewis store and the shop units opposite. Deviously, though, they never mentioned directly that these alterations would reduce the size of Middleton Hall by about 40 per cent.

OK, so the proposed current changes to Middleton Hall are not quite as drastic as SMC originally had in mind. However, such alterations may only be the thin end of the wedge. It does not mean that they will not try to carry out their real plans for the hall in the future.

Presently, Middleton Hall plays host to exhibitions, fairs and dances throughout the year, and to the very popular display at Christmas.

Clearly, as a smaller Middleton Hall would be a real tragedy, the SMC must be stopped from destroying it bit by bit.

Dr Michael Devine, by email

Water difference we could make...

On the BBC news I saw an item expressing concern about the unusual low level of water in our reservoirs due to the reduced rainfall last year.

While on my travels I have seen men carrying yokes with buckets of water from the Yangtse River to their villages and in India and Africa, women and children carrying heavy pots of water on their heads to their families. I have often thought how wasteful we are in this country, taking our supply of tap water for granted. This is not the position of millions of people in the world who have no such convenience for their wellbeing.

When I turn on my tap in the morning it runs cold for quite a while and this water just flows down the plug hole and is gone. A total waste.

Not in my home any more; I have a watering can in the bathoom and fill it with that water for use on my needy garden.

It is a small thing, but if everyone did this, it could make a difference.

Edna Read, Tinkers Bridge

> Do you have a letter? Send them to us at Citizen Letters, Napier House, Auckland Park, Bond Avnue, Bletchley, MK1 1BU or email editorial@mkcitizen.co.uk

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