Angry residents of the Cotswold town of Chipping Norton have voiced their concerns to David Cameron that the Government’s austerity measures are having a direct effect on their children’s welfare.
In a letter to the Chipping Norton News one fuming parent detailed the trauma that her 10-year-old daughter experienced after being told that mummy and daddy could not afford to buy her a new pony. ‘It has been absolute hell,’ she explained. ‘Little India hasn’t come out of her room for days after up turning the scullery table and cremating her teddy bear in the Aga. Thank God she’s got an en suite.’
‘Other parents I have spoken to at our monthly Supper Clubs are experiencing the same issues. Hyperventilation, bruises to the feet following extreme stamping and fainting fits are affecting the health of vulnerable children across the county. It’s getting just like the Third World.’
There is evidence too that pony breeders and Gymkhana event organisers are feeling the pinch as a result of parental cut-backs. ‘In the run up to last Easter I’d already sold 12 Shetlands, 6 Welsh Ponies and 3 Grade Horses. This year I’m still left with 13 Ponies and now the only interest I’m getting is from the French and Tesco,’ said breeder Steve Braithwaite from Cheltenham. ‘Local charities are really suffering too with the annual Gymkhana getting hardly any sponsorship this year, even from Waitrose or Holland & Barrett.’
Other businesses have also reported a downturn in sales. Marjorie Sinclair-Smythe who runs True Blue Gifts in Charlbury said, ‘Things have got extremely tense lately, as a matter of fact I’ve had to take all of my Thelwell horse and pony merchandise out of the window as children are breaking down as they pass by. Last week someone even posted a steaming lump of horse turd through the letter box which really was the final straw.’
A shortage of social workers in the area has exacerbated the problem with parents forced to employ extra nannies, to deal with anger management issues and to wear saddles and harnesses when required.
by Bob Blizzard Parliamentary Candidate for Waveney
Ex Tory Councillor, Stephen Chilvers, (Letters, December 21st) never lets facts get in the way
of his routine party political attacks. This time he tries to denigrate my involvement in the
campaign against Tesco moving into Pakefield. In fact, local people, alarmed at the impact
an unwanted an unneeded Tesco would have on our existing shops and the loss of the iconic
Tramways, asked me to chair the public meeting at the Seagull Theatre. At the end of that
meeting, everyone wanted to continue the campaign, which is why I proposed the protest
outside the WDC Planning Offices, an idea with which all agreed.
This way forward followed the research into legislation I had carried out which revealed
that, despite the council having previously told objectors that planning consent for change
of use was not required, planning permission is in fact needed to convert a hotel into a food
store, and the council does have discretion to insist on an application to turn a pub into a
food store if the building is of historical or architectural importance.
The protest outside the Planning Offices proved worthwhile, as a council officer appeared
and told us that WDC was now asking Tesco to apply for change of use.
If Mr Chilvers had joined the campaign instead of carping from the sidelines he would
have known all this. He would have also seen that the campaign is not party political. Local
people are uniting behind a deeply felt cause.
Sadly, Mr Chilvers did introduce party politics in trying to blame the last Labour government,
but again he got his facts wrong. This issue is not, as he suggests, about out of town
supermarkets. The Pakefield shops have withstood the impact of Lowestoft’s out of town
supermarkets (which, by the way, were all approved under a Conservative government). The
problem we are dealing with is Tesco wanting to plonk themselves right next to the shops
that have served us well for years. In doing so they are hoping to make use of a relaxation in
planning law that was enacted in 1995 by a Conservative government. And before someone
asks why Labour didn’t plug the loophole, it has only been in the last two years that we have
seen the surge in Tesco and other supermarkets exploiting it to take over pubs.
I hope that Mr Chilvers will now join the thousands of other people who have expressed
opposition to Tesco moving into Pakefield, regardless of their party political loyalties.