Rail fares rise, Brexit, remember polytechnics, disability attitudes, protecting nature, Poppy support, give young say on Brexit, musician Andre Rieu’s calming influence

Train fares rises have met criticism
Train fares rises have met criticism

Readers’ letters, January 24

Fare rise is not justified

I am sure many regular rail users will be annoyed at the 3.1 per cent rise in rail fares which will be put in place in January.

It needs to be pointed out that rail fares have grown faster compared to wages, which have fallen in the past 10 years.

It is hard working people who are being penalised for using the rail network, many of them rely on rail travel to get to work.

If you evaluate the standard of customer service in the last year, as well as the standard of management,

I don’t think many regular rail users will believe this rise is justified.

Rail users have had to contend with a substandard service due to inconsistency, lack of customer care and botched timetable alterations.

We have seen customers having to contend with intermittent cancellations and feeble excuses.

There has also been a severe lack of seating on most trains, causing situations where there is overcrowding to a level where healthy and safety is compromised.

It is clearly all about profit

before the needs of the customer.

It is apparent that Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, has a lack of empathy with rail users because there is very little evidence to suggest things will improve.

Alan Whitaker, Address supplied

Ignorance is not bliss over Brexit

Why am I drawn to watch TV news and read newspapers, when I know that it will just make me angry? Last week’s Lancaster Guardian ((Jan 17th) was no exception.

There were the utterly predictable tribal columns of our two MPs, both of whom put party before constituency, plus an article on page 12 telling us that “Poll shows majority back People’s vote”.

I would be quite prepared to back a People’s vote if I thought that there was any more chance of people being able to make an informed decision than there was in 2016.

The fact is that most people are still unable to name their MEP or have any clue what they actually do, understand why the EU decamp from Brussels to Strasbourg and back again every month or even what the respective roles of Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker are?

How many people know what World Trade Organisation Rules are, when one ‘expert’ on TV will say that food will become more expensive, then another will appear and say that they will become cheaper? Who really knows what ‘The Norway Option’ is?

If the direction that we end up heading in is a ‘People’s Vote’, then there is still time for this to be done properly, but I doubt that it will. There are too many vested interests.

How many voters under 45 know that the UK was not an independent country and was already in a Customs Union when it joined what is now the EU in 1972? In 1960 the UK was a founder member of ‘The European Free Trade Association’ (EFTA), together with Austria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland. After 12 years, the UK and Denmark left EFTA together to join the European Economic Community and this evolved into the EU when it started to embrace political union.

EFTA still exists and now comprises Norway, Iceland, Leichtenstein and Switzerland. This is what is being referred to as ‘The Norway Option’ and a lot of nonsense has been spouted about it by MPs of all parties.

EFTA has a relationship with the EU and has a number of their own free trade agreements, but individual members are also free to make their own free trade agreements.

If we were to exit the EU and rejoin EFTA, we would revert back to where we were before we joined the EU. We would be part of a Customs Union with existing free trade deals, but still able to make free trade deals of our own, access EU programmes and the Irish border need not be an issue.

You don’t have to take my word for this though, as EFTA has a website which explains everything at www.efta.int. Do the research so you are ready to make an informed decision and if you like the look of EFTA, lobby your MP.

Martyn Sutton, Beaumont Place, Lancaster

Bring back polytechnics

I am pleased there are plans for those who failed to get three grade Ds at A-Level not to receive so much financial support to go to university.

Sadly, many students have been conned into thinking that a BA (Hons) degree is the same, whether obtained at Oxbridge or a former college of education.

It most certainly is not. We should convert some of our institutions back into polytechnics, and make them concentrate on practical subjects.

Tim Mickleburgh, address supplied

Attitudes to disabilities blight us

Negative attitudes towards disabled children and their families is a blight on our society that needs to be challenged.

I’m encouraging my neighbours to sign up to the charity Scope’s campaign on this issue.

Three-quarters of parents of disabled children across the country say they have

experienced negative comments from the public when they go out with their child.

Negative attitudes and inadequate support leave families feeling judged and isolated.

Now is the time for a new

Minister for Disabled Children and their families, who can lead Government thinking in how to tackle negative attitudes.

People can support the campaign by signing a petition or donating on Scope’s website at https://www.scope.org.uk.

Barbara Kirk, email address supplied

Protect the wildlife

It is very disappointing to see the proposals in the Government’s draft Environment Bill have been significantly weakened.

Our local wildlife and special places for nature require much more robust protection. The Government’s proposals fall well short of delivering the vital improvements our already fragile natural world so urgently needs.

We are calling on Ministers and MPs to rise to this once-in-a-lifetime challenge and show much greater ambition. Unless they do, we will continue to see our wildlife and habitats decline.

We need a Bill that enshrines a tough green watchdog with the authority to take action against the Government if it breaks the rules, and which requires local authorities to map out where wildlife needs protection and habitats need improvement – a Nature Recovery Network. We are asking readers to contact their MP and tell them how important this Bill is.

Liz Ballard, Wildlife Trust

Help us help veterans

This can be a challenging time of year for Forces veterans. Those with mental or physical health conditions, who do not have a job or a close support network, can feel particularly isolated.

At The Poppy Factory, we know that ex-Service men and women who are wounded, injured or sick will still flourish in the right working environment.

In return, the skills they have honed in the military bring enormous benefits to their employers. The Poppy Factory’s employability team works closely with individuals, helping to boost their confidence and skills and look for the right job opportunities. We help with everything from CV writing and interview preparation to training and in-work support This year, I hope many more businesses and organisations across the North West will consider the value that veterans can add to their workforce. We stand ready to help more wounded, injured and sick veterans find a way to fulfil their potential in the civilian world.

Deirdre Mills, Poppy Factory

Give young a fresh vote

I am aghast that our Prime Minister appears to be casually throwing away our right and more importantly that of our young people to live, work and study across the continent and to shape its future. Any second referendum should also give voice to 16 to 17-year-olds.

James Bovington, address supplied

Music to my ears

Very regrettably, 2019 seems to be starting off with so many disputes, wars, disagreements, famine, divisions and anger which politicians and others appear incapable of solving.

One has only to look at Republicans versus Democrats in the US, the EU verses the UK, Russia versus Ukraine, Saudi Arabia versus Yemen, unions versus the private rail companies and many, many more.

But there is a way tensions might be calmed. The amazing Dutch violinist and conductor of the Johann Strauss Orchestra, Andre Rieu, has, for 31 years, led his wonderful band all over the world.

Wherever his orchestra plays, everyone is full of happiness, goodwill, caring and love of their fellow man.

After two or more hours of playing, there is hardly a dry eye in the audience.

So, if his orchestra was booked for a two-hour session before all future ‘disputes and meetings’, the overall air would be calmer.

Everything else seems to be failing right now - so why not give this a try?

David Quarrie, Address supplied