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Fracking, lack of savings, night driving, pub dogs ban, boundary changes, WWI battlefield tours, SUVs

Anti-fracking campaigners at the Preston New Road site
Anti-fracking campaigners at the Preston New Road site

Readers’ letters, October 4

Stop a planning free-for-all

I have a deep concern that people don’t realise exactly how much the Government wants to brazenly rewrite planning rules to make it even easier for fracking companies to drill.

We’ve already seen what has happened in Lancashire, but it will just get worse. It is we, as residents, who have been brushed aside and sidelined.

It’s bad enough having been treated as guinea pigs here in Lancashire but if these proposals to remove decision-making from councils go through, it will be a free-for-all everywhere.

It seems clear to me that communities and local councils, who have consistently rejected fracking, are unhappy that the Government think that entirely removing local opposition from the equation will be tolerated. It won’t.

If the unthinkable were to happen, it would simply gift our countryside to the fracking companies.

We cannot allow these organisations to have such an unopposed and easy ride. And now, with people actually being put in jail for peaceful protesting against fracking, I don’t know what further evidence is needed to show how unbalanced things have become.

The Government needs to know that they are mistaken about this.

Local people matter.

Our voices count. These damaging proposals must not go through.

Mrs Dorothy Kelk, Email address supplied

No nest egg for most

Recent figures from the Office for National Statistic (ONS) show that the saving ratio has fallen to 4.1 per cent, the lowest since records began in 1963!

Other research suggests that nearly one fifth of high income households, around 40 per cent of low-middle income and over half of non-working households cannot save £10 a month.

It would seem that a very large proportion of households in the United Kingdom now admit to being unable to save the equivalent of a KFC Bargain Bucket per month!

For the past two years households have been dis-saving and net borrowers – spending more than they are receiving in income.

Of course, the trouble with dis-saving is that sooner or later you run out of savings to dis.

While aspects of national culture, personality and nurture play a part in determining the propensity to save, I suspect that the low savings ratio probably is a direct consequence of the pincer and the signal.

The pincer: wages have stalled in real terms, the price of essentials is rising at a faster pace than other goods and services, there’s been a shift in spending towards convenience items (which invariably carry a premium price) coupled with a further shift from items to experiences – and prices of many services are rising quickly.

The truth of the matter is that the British politician is pursuing policy based on delusion and fantasy.

They implore households to spend more (in order to maintain GDP), save more (to improve financial resilience), invest more (to provide for retirement, despite falling returns), pay more tax (to bolster deteriorating public services), take on more loans (to fund post-state education) and pay the highest price possible for housing (to protect the lenders). The equation is one that doesn’t work.

My best guess is that the low savings ratio reflects desperate efforts by households to maintain living standards in the face of the longest squeeze on real incomes in living memory.

Kevin Hey, Address supplied

‘Tis season of no lights

Yes, the season is turning, the nights are closing in and, as Sir David Attenborough might put it, so begins the inward migration of the lesser-brained lightless car driver.

This particular species believes that if they can see others in the dim and gloom then they can automatically be seen themselves.

The fact that they often creep up on the road, unseen like a stealthy predator, escapes them. When they breed with the no-indicator booby, then watch out everyone!

Tithebarn, Address supplied

Dogs are not the problem in pubs

So Wetherspoons is banning dogs from their pubs.

I strongly believe that if any pub or cafe wants to ban dogs then they have the right to do so.

What I do object to is the Wetherspoons spokesman Eddie Gershwin citing the presence of young children as a valid reason.

I find it much more offensive eating an early morning breakfast in the pub, having to explain to my children why there are scruffy men drinking and shouting at 7.30 in the morning.

Perhaps Wetherspoons could explain how a well behaved dog on a lead has more of an effect on children than this.

Melvyn Wolff, Address supplied

More work for our MPs

I write regarding the final Boundary Commission findings.

The Boundary Commission was tasked with reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600, and ensuring the electorate in each constituency was no more than 78,507, but above 71,031.

The Commission is entirely independent, with no political bias. The rationale was to ‘cut the cost of politics’ - more of that later.

The current boundaries were contested last year. The average size of electorate in the seats Labour won was 70,578. This was much lower than the average size of Conservative won seats - 74,436.

Labour seats were won with a larger majority too, an average of 28 per cent of the total electorate, compared to an average 23 per cent majority for Conservative won seats.

This shows that Labour MPs represent a smaller electorate than typical Conservative MPs, and have typically bigger majorities.

This demonstrates the fact that Labour voters are condensed in a smaller number of seats. This is why the new boundaries, more even in size, are worse for Labour - Labour’s vote is not distributed as broadly as the Conservatives.

I do think reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600 is wrong. MPs have a large case load, and this would make it worse.

Also, Labour constituencies are typically poorer and have larger transient populations - two demographics less likely to register to vote.

The bread and butter of the work of an MP is housing, issues accessing services and so on. Just because people don’t register to vote doesn’t mean they don’t have issues that fall on to an MP’s desk.

I’d much rather the census numbers were used when calculating constituency size.

If the purpose was ‘cutting the cost of politics’, I’d start by reducing the House of Lords from a grotesque 800 plus to around 250-300, more than enough for a revising chamber. Each Peer gets £300 per day for just turning up.

Finally, if people are really worried about the number of MPs not matching the votes cast, tell your MP to campaign to dump First Past the Post (FPTP). That’s the real issue. A system of Proportional Representation (PR) ensures the number of MPs in Parliament closely matches the real votes cast.

Garry Kitchin, Full address supplied

Visit WWI sites

This November sees the centenary of the armistice that ended the First World War.

Every family in Britain was affected in one way or another by the four years of slaughter that tore Europe apart between the years 1914-18.

To mark the 100 years since the guns fell silent, leading historical research group Battlefield Memorial Tours will take a coach party not just to key sites on the former Western Front but also to Ypres, Belgium, where a major service to mark the signing of the 1918 armistice will take place at the world-famous Menin Gate.

The coach party will also visit the battlefield of Waterloo, where allied forces under the Duke of Wellington defeated French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte’s armies in June, 1815.

The trip will run from Saturday, November 10 to Tuesday, November 13. For further details, visit www.battlefieldmemorialtours.co.uk or contact organisers Malcolm Payne on 07850 775723 or Brian Long on 01629 650780.

John Phillpott, Battlefield Memorial Tours

Huge car invaders

We need to look seriously at the provision of car parking spaces in our local supermarkets.

Due to the proliferation of people driving much larger SUVs, semi-industrial type of vehicles, huge long wheel-based vans and enormous camper vans, the spaces in our supermarket car parks are becoming seriously compromised.

These vehicles just don’t fit in the allocated spaces in the car parks! Added to which, many of the drivers of these vehicles seem to be unable to park them correctly – they frequently leave them slewed over two spaces, not within the defined lines and poking out randomly.

I think our supermarkets should be able to enforce a limit on the size of vehicles which use their car parks.

I’m sorry, but barrelling around the countryside in these monsters to the detriment of the rest of us driving normal cars needs to be addressed and blithely parking them badly at the supermarket without a thought to other shoppers is, frankly, selfish.

Fiona Coombes, Address supplied