This letter appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
I still say project is waste of £3 million
As the dissident who put forward his views on the Cathedral Gardens 'Focus on the social issues, not gardens' (Mercury, September 22), I wish to respond to Peter Hobson, director of the Cathedral Gardens project (Mercury, September 25), as my letter, clearly, has hit a raw nerve within the Diocese of Leicester.
To begin with, Peter Hobson was disappointed that I wrote under "name and address supplied", particularly as I am apparently so well-informed. All too often, whistle-blowers seek anonymity, but he may need to ask himself how it is I am so well-informed.
I am all too aware of the good work that goes on within the diocese, on a number of levels, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to do more.
While Peter Hobson claims the Diocese Mission for Social Responsibility has been restructured, it is difficult to know in what way.
What I do know is for the past year, the diocese has, sadly, been without a director of social responsibility.
With reference to whether to invest in capital projects, I understand the need to maintain existing Church properties, but there is a budget of about £8 million per annum set aside for this, through the Diocese of Leicester Board of Finance.
I fail to see how the Cathedral Gardens is a capital investment, as I am unsure in what way this £3 million project would achieve a financial return.
I would not have a problem with public funding being used towards the much-needed repair of the spire of St Mary De Castro Church, as this is part of Leicester's proud heritage.
I take objection to Peter Hobson's repeated references to "the poor", which in my mind demonstrates, as a minister of religion, his "poor" awareness of social issues to simply pigeonhole people in difficult circumstances as "poor".
I simply pointed out that financial resources from public funds would be better directed to projects working with those affected by homelessness, substance abuse, poverty and suffering.
Surely, most people would rather see some money directed to worthy causes rather than the Cathedral Gardens – by way of, for example, organisations such as Macmillan Nurses, which does great work with those in suffering and often placed in abject poverty – rather than see another fountain built in the Cathedral Gardens, at great expense, only for it to end up like the existing fountain in the gardens, which, as I passed it last Sunday, shortly before evensong, contained a green sludge and is little more than a receptacle for discarded drinks cans, beer bottles and used prophylactics.
I think it is time for the diocese to review its plan for the Cathedral Gardens, which is clearly an extravagant gesture in the present economic situation, and for the debate to continue in the community.
As for my anonymity, should Peter Hobson wish to contact me via the editor, he may do so.
Who knows, I might even challenge him to a live debate on local radio.
Name and address supplied