Letters to the BV Editor January 2022


The slow painful death-by-visitor
It is particularly apparent in winter when driving through villages after dark, just how much of our housing stock is used for second homes and holiday lets.
I understand Tim Farron MP has outlined some simple steps for his Yorkshire constituency which could work equally well nation-wide to prevent the slow painful death-by-visitor of our village life. A way of life which can only thrive when residents live and work in the same community?
Shouldn’t we make second homes and holiday-lets new and separate class categories of planning use? This would mean that councils could monitor and control numbers and tax effectively.
Also give councils the power to increase council tax by up to 100 per cent on second homes in the worst affected communities. This would protect communities and generate revenue to improve infrastructure and provide new affordable housing for local families.
And let’s ensure all holiday-let owners pay council tax, rather than avoiding paying anything at all if they are deemed a small business.
Lastly, give councils the power to ensure that new builds are genuinely affordable.
Mr P Thomas, Shaftesbury

Can Aldi mend a town?
Further to AP’s points on Aldi coming to Sturminster Newton (Dec 22 issue), I don’t wholly disagree – anything which brings people to a town can only be a good thing. However, I do feel the geography of Sturminster Newton in particular will work against it – in this case the supermarket will be easily accessible from the main road, with little reason for people to drive on and work through the traffic lights over the bridge and find parking.
It will of course be a useful alternative for the people of Stur, but I am yet to be convinced that visitors from outside the town, coming solely to find the cheaper supermarket prices, will be lured across the bridge purely by what Sturminster Newton has to offer – unless of course the town is newly motivated to up its game.
John Collins, Sherborne

I have to strongly agree with AP (Dec issue) – the arrival of Aldi in Sturminster Newton can only be a great thing for many in Stur.
Though if I’m honest, this is purely from self-interest; I’m admittedly less concerned about how well it will work for the small businesses currently trading in the town.
If you are struggling to feed your family, access to affordable shopping is an urgent necessity – and yet with a car so old and broken down it was finally resigned to a scrap heap, I have to rely on public transport or kind friends. A return trip to Blandford’s supermarket by bus is £9 out of my weekly food budget, even were they to run at useful times. And let’s not discuss the loss of three hours on the round trip (no, not everyone’s 24hrs are the same Molly-Mae). Instead I have to rely heavily on the utterly wonderful Vale Pantry in order to keep my bills paid and stay out of debt.
The arrival of a reasonably-priced, well-stocked supermarket within walking distance is an absolute blessing. Hopefuly I will be able to stop relying on the charity of strangers, plan my meals in advance and finally hold my head up.
Please hurry up Aldi.
Name withheld

Generosity for refugees
Dear Editor, can I use your magazine to thank wonderful locals for their generosity.
When the news reports showed the desperate situation at Kabul airport during the evacuation from Afghanistan, many of us were deeply moved.
These were people in urgent fear, escaping with nothing more than their lives. A Salisbury pub began a collection of clothing, but it was all going to Care4Calais where the warehouses were already full, with no means of distribution.
Eventually, we found a small group in Wiltshire with direct access to the Afghan families, who were glad to receive anything we could gather.
We had to wait for phone calls to be told where to meet – each different rendezvous an hour’s drive away – as security for the Afghan translators’ families was paramount.
We were amazed to fill a whole carload – our family and our kind Iwerne neighbours gave warm coats, men’s and women’s jumpers, men’s shoes, and shirts, and socks.
We’d heard that having lost everything, it meant so much to be given even a toothbrush which was their own – so we bought 100 toothbrushes from Amazon, and our dentist gave three boxes of toothpaste samples.
Then more people gave more warm clothing. The idea of Harvest Festival seemed perfect: thinking of the Bible passage about Ruth, where we read of generosity towards incomers – and we asked each of the five local churches to consider inviting donations of warm clothing for all ages, from babies upwards.
St Andrew’s at Fontmell agreed to be the collection point for gifts.
Your wonderful gifts arrived in bags and case. The Afghan box was filled to overflowing, and still more people emailed – from a young mum who brought three bags of baby clothes to someone giving her late father’s treasured coat.
We have taken four bulging car-loads to various different rendezvous
The Afghan families – who are beginning to feel more settled as their children start going to school – have asked us to pass on their overwhelming thanks and gratitude to all these amazingly generous people.
John and Lavender Buckland, Iwerne Minster.

Flexible workspace in Stur
The Sturminster Newton Community Benefit Society has been working hard for three years to support local businesses by attracting more customers into the town. We are currently considering a project to bring the ground floor of the former NatWest building back into use as an indoor market. The aim would be to provide another good reason for coming to Stur. as a shopping destination by offering a venue to buy high quality goods sourced or produced in the Blackmore Vale.
We want to hear from people who may be interested in hiring customer facing space for their businesses, at relatively low cost and with some support offered. At this stage we need to have a conversation about what the needs may be. We plan to hold an initial information event in the near future and registering interest at this stage will insure an invitation to attend.
If you are interested please contact me on cllr.p.batstone@btinternet.com.
Cllr. Pauline Batstone,
Secretary Sturminster Newton Community Benefit Society

Dickens and Macready Crafting Together
What a fascinating story on Dickens coming to Sherborne for the public reading of A Christmas Carol (Dec issue, here).
I’ll admit I was entirely unaware of Macready, but having read some more it transpired they really were firm friends, which is the sole reason Dickens deigned to come to Sherborne, though ‘it smells of cow shit’.
In fact it seems he came regularly to visit Macready at Sherborne House. I have also discovered the existence of the William Macready & Charles Dickens’s Scrap Screen which is housed in the collections of Sherborne House – apparently, according to family lore, the two worked together to produce this remarkable object. The vision of Dickens and a great Shakesperean actor spending their evenings ‘crafting’ together was wonderful – I thought your other readers may also be interested: https://www.sherbornehousedorset.org.uk/history-macready-dickens-the-screen.php
Violet Hill, Sherborne

Oxford’s oven
What a terrific and well-written article on Steve Oxford (‘happy baker happy bread, Dec)- we’re so lucky to have such a business in our community. I, like so many others, relied on them during the first lockdowns, and was never greeted without a smile. Thank you Steve and your whole team. May your oven run for another hundred years!
Patricia Ball, Sturminster Newton.

The other side of the debate
Your correspondent BJ of Shaftesbury (Dec 21 issue, here ) finds it ‘unbelievable’ that so many people are still refusing the Covid-19 vaccines and speaks of ‘aggressive and selfish idiots with no scientific and medical knowledge, who think they know better than the world’s leading medical professionals and scientists’.
So let’s consider the words of a few of these professionals and scientists.
Top cardiologist Dr Peter McCullough, president of the Cardiorenal Society of America, said after changing his view on vaccine safety: ‘Covid-19 vaccines are killing huge numbers of people and the government is simply ignoring it.’
Britain’s Dr Mike Yeadon, former vice-president and chief scientist
of Pfizer, said: ‘Everything your government has told you about this virus is a lie.’
*the above letter is greatly abridged. For the full-length article, please visit:
Roger Guttridge


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