Disability, tenners, hospital car parking, hospital performance figures, railway passengers, Laurel & Hardy, fracking risks

People should be more caring toward wheelchair users.
People should be more caring toward wheelchair users.

Readers’ letters, January 17

Wheelchair users are people too

How I agree with Mrs A, (letters page Guardian January 10, Why does no-one care?), regarding disability.

I was one of those who saw wheelchair users as a hindrance, and ‘in the way’, until my late wife became disabled and I, too, had several ‘encounters’ with people, especially over Blue Badge use.

I quite often had to take heavy bags to the car while leaving her in a cafe, or store, and on several occasions received verbal abuse.

I would say, however, when pushing her in a wheelchair, the majority of people were accommodating. However, when she used a scooter, people’s attitude changed dramatically, as if they resented people using them.

I too started doing ‘dummy runs’, which became a bit of a joke.

After re-marrying, my current mother-in-law is now in a wheelchair, and the dummy runs continue. We have to be mindful of when and where we go, which just adds to the pressure.

So to everyone out there who has felt aggrieved about people in wheelchairs, please remember, they are still human beings, and deserve to be treated as such, and if someone is pushing the chair, stop and think, could that be me in a few years? Offer to hold a door or move a chair, it does only take a minute and can make a whole lot of difference.

Mr A Pedder, address supplied

Careful of that tenner

During a family discussion about not liking being given Scottish banknotes, I recalled reading that they are not legal tender, even in Scotland.

In order to confirm this I researched on the Internet. I am hoping to warn readers of my findings.

Scottish notes are a legal ‘currency’, but not legal tender (even in Scotland).

For example, if you go into a shop to buy a hammer which is for sale at £10, you can hand over an English £10 note and walk out of the shop.

If you hand over a Scottish £10 note, the shopkeeper may accept or refuse it as currency. If he refuses to accept it and you leave the note and go out of the shop with the hammer, you can be prosecuted for shoplifting (failing to pay with legal tender).

In the same way, you may offer to pay with two chickens. If the shopkeeper accepts them as currency to the value of £10, you can walk away with the hammer. If he refuses to accept the chickens and you walk away with the hammer, you can be prosecuted for shoplifting. If accepting the chickens, he must then account for them as goods to the value of £10 in order to satisfy the taxman.

Interestingly, if you bank with the Bank of Scotland, you can go into a branch and deposit Scottish notes and have your account credited with the face value. If you make a withdrawal, the bank is legally bound to only issue English notes.

I recall a few years ago that in order to encourage locals to buy local produce, the Lake District produced their own currency.

In simple terms, a butcher could buy a pig from a local farmer using local currency. The farmer could then buy a new tyre for his tractor using the same currency. The garage owner could use the currency to buy meat from the butcher. All three have received legal currency and must account for it as being to the value of goods to satisfy the taxman.

As you would not accept Lake District currency in your change, be wary of accepting Scottish currency.

Steve Hinde, address supplied

Hospital parking charges hit vulnerable

Regarding car parking charges for cancer patients at Royal Preston Hospital.

I am horrified to discover that parking charges have been imposed upon cancer patients at this site. Beforehand a parking permit was issued covering the expected duration of treatment.

As a cancer patient who had 37 daily treatments myself, I can confirm how distressing both the condition and the treatments are. Anything which can ease the trauma is essential for the wellbeing of the patient.

I understand that the £2.50 concession must be applied for on each occasion at an office which is some very considerable walk from the Rosemere Cancer Unit at Preston.

I am sure that even the least aware individual might realise that many patients suffering from cancer are going to be incapable of walking such a distance.

Furthermore, to insist that a carer leaves such a vulnerable patient unattended for a considerable time each and every treatment session would be to leave them at increased risk of harm.

The daily concession procedure itself introduces a further level of bureaucracy which itself will have a financial implication.

I consider this situation to be wholly unacceptable.

I must also take exception to the following clause: “Each family visitor separately attending on a gravely ill relative will be eligible to apply for a concession at a cost of £2.50 per day”. How completely heartless.

John McKenzie, Bare, Morecambe

NHS - we deserve better care

The latest NHS England performance figures are deeply troubling. Hospitals are now having to operate at unsafe levels – several are at full bed capacity and more than one third are operating at 97 per cent or above bed occupancy.

A&E departments are struggling, too, with even fewer patients able to be seen within four hours. On the frontline, staff are under incredible pressure, treating more patients than ever.

But they cannot work miracles. The cold, hard reality is that the NHS cannot keep pace with demand. These figures suggest we could be heading for one of the bleakest winters yet.

Patients deserve to be treated at the right time and in the right place and that is not currently happening.

Niall Dickson, Chief executive of the NHS Confederation

Look after passengers

When is this inept Government going to act for the benefit of the passengers in the ongoing railway disputes?

We know the Government is paying (very likely hefty) compensation to the failing companies, but ignores the plight of the travellers.

Many of the privatised companies have accepted there is a safety risk to having driver-only operated (DOO) trains, but is (German-owned) operator Northern making too much profit from strikes to care about our safety?

News of increased violence and sexual assault features regularly in the media and in official statistics.

RMT trade union leader Mick Cash raised the issue of profit over safety.

The Government needs to listen to commuters and nationalise the railways.

Profits should go towards funding service improvements, not into the pockets of ‘fat cat’ bosses or subsidies for European commuters at our expense.

Paul Burns, address supplied

More Laurel & Hardy please

The biopic of Laurel and Hardy’s visit to the UK for their last tour is out in cinemas.

I can’t wait to see this film, the trailers look brilliant.

Steve Coogan (as Stan Laurel) and John C Reilly (as Oliver Hardy) look the parts and I truly hope that audiences will get an understanding of Laurel and Hardy’s love and respect for each other.

As much as I love Dad’s Army, which the BBC seems to continue to show on BBC2 every Saturday evening, surely with this film, Stan and Ollie, coming out, it’s time to re-show all those classic 20-minute family-friendly Laurel and Hardy episodes?

Slapstick comedy, no bad language, this is surely the time to bring Laurel and Hardy to a brand new audience, the much younger generation?

Let’s keep their legacy alive and laugh at their crazy antics.

Peter Keighley, address supplied

Fracking is a gamble

When fracking in the UK was first advocated, it was believed that, with North Sea gas production falling, the country could be hostage to rising energy prices.

Six years later, things are very different. New sources of gas from the USA and central Asia have become available, gas prices have halved and there is no shortage of supplies in Europe or across the world. European demand for gas has also proved much lower than predicted.

In addition, over the past five years, the cost of energy from solar and wind power has halved, and this diversity protects our energy security.

Shale gas in the USA can be cheaply extracted from vast reservoirs such as the Marcellus field and the Permian Basin.

However, the geology of Britain is very different: shale fields are small and scattered, making fracking much less productive and more expensive.

The capital expenditure required even to begin drilling operations, together with the much lower likelihood of success, makes fracking in Britain barely economically viable – especially when it has to compete with falling energy prices.

Yet despite these hard facts, and against the will of local communities, the Government supports the fracking industry.

Manchester is now opposing fracking. Scotland and Wales already have moratoriums in place. We don’t want to be the guinea pig victims of a commercial gamble that could well backfire.

Peter Williams, address supplied