Mayoral transport costs, smart meters, weather events, gender, high street woes, police cuts, pet bereavement, house building, tattoos

Coun Jon Barry, when Mayor of Lancaster
Coun Jon Barry, when Mayor of Lancaster

Readers’ letters, August 30

Mayoral transport costs

I was pleased to see the Guardian article highlighting that Lancaster City Council has spent £44,199 on the mayor’s chauffeur and car over the last three years.

Indeed, the cost would be even higher if I and my deputy mayor had not chosen to do without the mayor’s car in my mayoral year of 2015/16.

Firstly, I am convinced that the mayor is an important attribute for the district. They do an important job visiting several hundred events during the year.

However, there is no need for them to be chauffeureed to the vast majority of these events.

To take an example. I attended a function at the Assembly Rooms in Lancaster town centre. What I actually did was walk for 15 minutes to attend the function.

If I had been using the car, the chauffeur would have travelled from near Fleetwood to Willow Lane. I would then have been transported from Willow Lane to the town centre - and then back again afterwards. Then the chauffeur would have driven back to Fleetwood. Clearly, this all costs local taxpayers money and harms the environment.

Preston has gone for a middle way, and this explains why they are low spenders. They transport their mayor to around 50 events that they consider to be important. The rest of the time, the mayor has to make his or her own way to events. Given that the mayor receives an allowance, this seems very reasonable. So why isn’t our Council at least adopting the Preston model?

Coun Jon Barry, 145 Willow Lane, Lancaster LA1 5PU

Smart meters won’t save much cash

Smarts meters, great for the giant German (and other) electronic conglomerates, rubbish for UK householders and no more than entry level snooping.

Everyone has a right to refuse one in their home. According to the latest figures, they are destined to save no more than £11 per year/per household and far less than the claimed saving of £35 per annum secured apparently by quenching a TV’s standby red LED.

Joseph G Dawson, Address supplied

Big year of weather events

The weather of 2018 will be long remembered and like all the previous very wet six months of 2017, January and April had rain totals above average, and land conditions remained waterlogged throughout.

The weather was mild until mid-January when the first patchy snow arrived, but there were no lasting cold spells until February.

The coldest weather came at the end of February and in early March with the arrival of the savage gale, ‘the Beast from the East’. For five days, this brought bitter icy conditions with drifting snow, although snow amounts were mostly just an inch or two. The coldest temperature of the winter was 22.5F, -5.5C, on the morning of March 1.

Very strong east winds and bleak wintry conditions returned in mid-March and even in early April there was some snowfall.

By the end of April, the land was still very cold and full of water. Spring farm work was held up.

Then in early May, there was a sudden switch to dry weather.

The next three months, May to July, were extraordinary. We normally have our better weather at this time, but never so hot and dry as this year.

Rainfall for the entire three months has totalled 130.9 mm (just over five inches), representing 44.5 per cent of the average for that period.

There have been a few thunder showers, so rain totals will vary over the region. There were several long spells of dry days. The longest, with 21 days of continuous drought, came after June 21.

Clear skies and the longest days of the year meant very high temperatures. There was an incredible record spell of nine consecutive days over 80F from June 25.

This included the hottest day – 87.3F, 30.7C – on June 26. So much heat meant rapid evaporation, parched land and scenes of burnt grass. The situation has become similar to the summers of 1976 and 1996, though in both those cases, the previous years had been drier than usual.

If considering water supplies, we have to be thankful for the many months of high rainfall before the current dry spell.

Muriel Lord, Volunteer daily rainfall observer for Met Office

Gender issues

Regarding reader’s letter, Is it guys or gals? Lancaster Guardian August 9.

When I was in the RAF in a unit composed of roughly equal numbers of ‘guys and gals’ our Flight Lieutenant addressed us collectively as ‘chaps’.

Don Burnett, Wyresdale Road, Lancaster

High street woes

Encouraging people to make use of the High Street, as rather ignores the possibly more difficult problem of motivating the Treasury and its Treasurer in Chief to address the issue of fair taxation.

The burden of rising business rates is falling on the high street because it is easy to collect rates from those struggling to survive there.

It is a perverse logic and as long as there is a high street to squeeze, it will continue.

More difficult, because it requires time and effort, is imposing comparable taxes on on-line companies that do not have the burden of high street premises.

This, it would seem, is too messy for The Treasury, which has enjoyed a ready-made tax delivery service on the high street for years. No amount of encouragement from will, on its own reverse this.

If the Treasury, however, could manage to park its ideological resistance to giving local authorities a role to play, there is capacity for local authorities to set fair business rates and collect them, thus giving The Treasury the necessary time to address unfair taxation.

B Kelly, Address supplied

Neighbours lose in police cuts

The pressure on the police is so great that they have totally withdrawn police support for local Neighbourhood Watch groups.

I was told: “Until the middle of last year each of the Lancashire Police divisions employed a full time Watch Liaison Officer (WLO) to support NHW.

“We could also rely on the police for printing and help with distribution and arranging meetings venues etc. Unfortunately, as the cutbacks bite deeper all has changed.

“The WLO role has been disestablished and we can no longer expect any help with printing etc. An NHW visit from the local police is also now somewhat rare. Since the beginning of this year Lancashire NHW has had to be completely independent and autonomous...”

Autonomous groups with no support from or liaison with police simply means vigilantes.

This seems like another invitation for criminals to run free.

Name and address supplied

Support for pet bereavement

Around Grief Awareness Day (August 30) Cats Protection would like to let your readers know that it offers a grief support service called Paws to Listen.

For many, losing a cat can be a very traumatic experience and there can be a lack of understanding from family and friends about how deeply the loss can impact on a person.

A survey carried out for Cats Protection earlier this month highlighted that 73 per cent of pet owners feel it can be as difficult and upsetting grieving for a pet as it is grieving for the loss of a person. Cats Protection understands just how much your cat means to you.

We have a large range of resources, information and support to help youIf you’re experiencing the loss of your cat, you can talk to us on 0800 024 9494 between 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.

We all need to be mindful of the emotional impact that losing a pet can have on a person.

Stuart Sheppard, Cats Protection Contact Centre manager

New estate names

Has anyone noticed how developers name their new estates after what they have just destroyed? Presumably in a cynical attempt to sell their purchasers a piece of imagined rural idyll.

Please could they be a bit more honest?

Three Dead Badgers, No More Skylarks or Goodbye Lapwings would be much nearer the mark than the Meadows, Fields and Pastures we are being offered.

Jane Adams, Address supplied

Ignore the tattoos

A police force is banning officers from showing arm tattoos.

Tattoos are personal things, people love them or hate them.

I wouldn’t ever want one but lots do, with many adorning people’s bodies. We see this more in the hot weather.

Would I have less confidence in a police officer if they were sporting a tat sleeve? No, not at all.

They are in the job because they are up to the job.

What scribblings they have got on their body is nothing to do with me.

A lovely lady serves me in the supermarket most days and her arms are covered in all manner of daubings. What do I do? Walk on to the next cashier who doesn’t have tattoos?

We are lucky to live in a country where we can express our own taste.

Jayne Grayson, Address supplied