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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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Gay rights – but there’s plenty wrong with this Marriage Bill

SIR – During the recent American elections, and given the contentious Obama healthcare mandate whereby all employers will be required to provide insurance which will be used to pay for abortions etc, the Catholic Bishops urged people to vote with their consciences.

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Might the same be applied here with regards to the iniquitous marriage bill?

Every Christian in the Copeland constituency of whatever religious persuasion (and, indeed, those of none but who still find this bill inherently wrong) might care to remember at the next elections that our MP was one of the 400 who decided it would be fun to play God and alter the whole concept of marriage.

Never mind that they claim churches will be protected should they not wish to participate. Who actually believes this? How long before they’re being challenged in that wonderful institution, loved and admired by all people in these isles, the European Court of Human Rights?

Remember Chamberlain and his “peace in our time” remarks? History shows us it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on and the same will be said of this law if it’s enacted, because as we’re all now aware, even though we conquered in Europe, we are now servile to their interpretations of our laws.

Hopefully, this will be the rock that David Cameron perishes on, but let’s not forget how our own MP voted. If you believe Jamie Reed was wrong to support this bill and especially if you were one of the many to sign the petitions against it because you believed it was wrong, then don’t let this be the end of the matter. Remove your support for him at the next elections. He was elected to represent you.

Mary BUTLER

Gable Road, Whitehaven

SIR – The controversy continues about this subject, in itself an affront to the centuries old Canon Law, which long precedes the shambolic 2010 Tory/Lib-Dem. Coalition.

I read the article of last week’s Whitehaven News and note that one of the usual suspects, Tim Farron (Liberal Democrat MP for Lonsdale) who, though a member of the Coalition Government, is habitually out of step with anything proposed by the Conservatives. Mr Farron voted with the Government on this occasion, it being a free vote anyway.

Surprisingly some Conservative and Labour Members of Parliament for this county were at odds. Rory Stewart (Conservative MP for Penrith and the Borders) – whom I have met, Jamie Reed (Labour MP for Copeland) and John Woodcock (Labour MP for Barrow), all voted in favour of the Gay Marriages Act. Yet, Tony Cunningham (Labour MP for Workington) and John Stevenson (Conservative MP for Carlisle) voted against. Strange bedfellows, euphemistically speaking!

Mr Reed was quoted as saying that, for him, it (the vote) was a straightforward matter of equality.

Therefore, despite his claims to be a Christian – he must have forgotten about Canon Law! – he puts equality before his belief in the sacred and historical act of marriage which is the union of man and woman before God.

I read also that the Chairman of Copeland Conservative Association, Stephen Haraldsen, publicly backed same-sex marriage, being one of the 50 signatories to an open letter to the Prime Minister from ‘senior Tory activists.’ Did he have his Association’s unqualified or majority support for this action?

I can only say that David Cameron’s foolish and unnecessary venture into the realms of political correctness and equality – and interference into historical church matters – will deservedly, in due course, cause the Tory party to haemorrhage votes at the next General Election.

Apparently, the Gay community itself did not overwhelmingly support David Cameron’s Bill, many of them being quite satisfied with the status quo of civil partnerships.

Brian PARNABY

Ullock

SIR – Finally, after years of serious concerns being raised about the managing of the North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust, the NHS leaders have decided to investigate the failings – unfortunately after an unacceptable raise in death rates.

The Trust ignored all warning signs and staff concerns to concentrate on cutting costs. They didn’t even succeed in that, employing managers and moving existing managers around every time a problem arose, costing a struggling Trust unnecessary expense, ignoring the need for more frontline staff.

They became obsessed with moving services to one site without assessing the effects on the health of the patients.

Still no-one has been held accountable for their failings in their duty of care. The same people remain in their positions of leadership even after failing the community. The frontline staff never had that security and were certainly not supported but down-banded, staffing levels were reduced and terms and conditions worsened.

Northumbria need to show staff they believe their highlighted concerns and lead the way by looking at the senior managers and correcting the historic mistakes. Staff need to know they are supported, and not work in a climate of fear of speaking out.

People need to know that they are cared for by dedicated good staff, although in a lot of areas not enough of them, staffing levels at times are totally unsafe.

Management stability looks better for the future and certainly seems more efficient but people need to know that some should be held accountable for their dismissive attitude to good quality patient care.

The new chief executive has a difficult task ahead, support and trust will follow if they listen and talk to the staff who will tell him the problems and will help resolve them. They want a new good health service it is, after all, theirs.

Christine WHARRIER

Calder Avenue, Whitehaven

SIR – I was recently admitted to Jenkin Ward, West Cumberland Hospital, where I spent a few days recovering from a chest infection.

The standard of care and attention I received was first-class.

I also appreciated the meals which were brought to me every day. Such variety and choice, I’m sure, also aided my recovery.

So I would like to say thank you to all the nurses, doctors and ward staff who cared for me and made my stay a pleasant one.

I would definitely recommend this ward to friends and relations!

Mr J RUMNEY

Sandhills Court, Whitehaven

SIR – I recently had a letter published in the Whitehaven News where I complained about Copeland Council regarding the proposed cut to services and amenities in the local area.

I now have to praise Copeland Council for voting to proceed with the stage four investigations into the possibility of having the underground nuclear waste depository in West Cumbria.

However, I am totally bewildered as to why Cumbrian County Council is against it, unless they think it will reduce the number of tourists.

I believe that at present nuclear waste is stored above ground, low level waste is stored in vessels that are stored in large container-like units and high level is stored in glass flasks which are stored under water. If this a correct understanding, surely this is far more dangerous than putting it into containers and placing in a purpose-built storage facility underground?

Over 60 years ago the same concerns were shown about the building of a nuclear facility in the area – and the nuclear facility was in use prior to the Lake district National park being set up – and in all those years since the National Park was set up the nuclear industry has not had any detrimental effect on tourism in the area.

If the storage facility is built in another area we then have the problem of moving vast amounts of waste around the country which will add further cost to our energy bills. Also there is the danger of accidental damage to the containers during transit.

What right do these faceless people on the county council have to dictate and decide what is right for the county without having a referendum?

With no other major industry on the horizon and employment diminishing, West Cumbria will become an even more deprived and depressed area for work, reminiscent of the depression eras of the 1920s and 1930s.

We need to encourage projects like the nuclear waste store into the area, to aid in the re-generation of the Western Lake District. If we don’t, West Cumbria will become a gigantic old people’s home.

I do not like the thought of a nuclear waste dump on my door step but as a pragmatist I can see the benefits to the community and agree to the proposed investigation to look for suitable site with the hope that West Cumbria will reap the benefits from such a proposal in the years ahead.

So here’s a thumbs up to Jamie Reed and his efforts to get Governmental approval to proceed with the stage four investigation.

Robert GARDNER

Egremont

SIR – Mr Reed you are MP for Copeland, not Sellafield alone. If you feel so strongly about helping your mates with this £68 billion problem then please at least do the most honourable thing for all of us: put it to a democratic vote for all Cumbrians to decide what kind of legacy they would wish to bestow on the children of future generations. That way you and your colleagues at Copeland might, might be able to claw back some credibility.

This at the end of the day is a UK problem, not a Cumbrian one alone.

Thanks to the county councillors for their honest and wisdom. Well done.

Mr A TAYLORSON

West Row, Kells

SIR – Our local area is honeycombed with redundant mine workings mainly coal and iron ore mines. Ask any ex-miner and they will tell you that water was always a problem in mines and that some pumps ran 24/7 to prevent the mine flooding.

Now redundant, all these mines will have flooded and be full of water.

There have been lives lost when water has ‘broke through’ from redundant mines to working mines. The point I am trying to make is that water will find a way. Any underground excavation can flood.

Nobody really wants to take that chance with our drinking water by building the repository to bury the problem. Out of sight out of mind. Better to keep the waste where it is,

above ground in new buildings properly maintained and managed. This is what we should be doing and doing it now because the existing older storage buildings are well past their best and not up to modern standards. This is something that could be achieved in our lifetimes unlike the repository that nobody wants.

Name and address supplied

SIR – The people of Cumbria have spoken and don’t want this dump. So stop pushing and wanting to waist more money on tests. There isn’t a need for further tests we’ve said no.

What part of ‘We don’t want it’ do you not understand? And a reminder to those councilors who won’t let it go, you will be wanting our vote at some point. Do you really expect to get it if you prove you refuse to listen.

Simeon SCOTT

Meadow View, Egremont

SIR – I feel that the recent behaviour of Jamie Reed MP and Cllr Elaine Woodburn is embarrassingly reminiscent of petulant children, violently upturning a board game and insisting that the rules be changed, because they have lost the game.

I was at the Cabinet meeting of January 30 and I can honestly say that it was the most exciting meeting I have ever attended. There were many people representing both sides of the argument, and it was great to see democracy in action and so many people wanting to be a part of the process. I spoke against having a GDF in Cumbria. I object to the notion that people objecting to the GDF are NIMBYs, unreasonably environmentalist or unrealistic. Quite the opposite, in fact.

I am not anti-nuclear. I agree that we need to harness nuclear energy. I also believe that underground storage is probably the safest way to store radioactive waste. I do not believe that it is safe to do this in our county, because the geology of our county is not capable of storing radioactive waste safely. This is based on the findings of the Nirex report of 1995/6, which was extremely costly. The geology of Cumbria has not changed significantly within the past 20 years to ensure the findings will be different in an up to date report

When I was a child in the 1980s, I remember that we were advised not to play on the beaches of the Solway Coast for a considerable period of time, due to a leak from Sellafield. Now … imagine what would happen to Cumbria’s economy if the same rule was applied to our Lake District and all of the tourism we have from that? We had a taste of this effect from the Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2001 – if we had a radioactive leak, the effects would last for a far longer period. Recently, a Whitehaven News’ article promised that half a million would be spent on promoting tourism in Cumbria should we go ahead with the repository. That’s actually not a lot of money. I wonder how many tourists visit Chenobyl or Fukushima?

Had the Cabinet of Cumbria County Council voted to move onto Stage 4 of the MRWS process, it would have been flushing away many more thousands of pounds, in a time of austerity, toward a study which would conclude what we already know (from the Nirex study) that the geology of Cumbria is unsafe. So they took the only sensible decision open to them: not to proceed any further.

And how can we trust the NDA to get it so right, especially with the publication, this week a highly critical report on the management of the Sellafield plant, days before a court action over the illegal dumping of nuclear waste?

Both Jamie Reed MP and Cllr Elaine Woodburn are claiming that the county council do not have a democratic mandate to refuse progression to Stage 4 of the MRWS process.

Perhaps they are right. Perhaps we should have had a county-wide referendum to deal with this issue and fully engage everyone. However, I feel that the Cabinet of Cumbria County Council really did represent the views of most residents of Cumbria. Especially seeing as data collected from Allerdale’s 60 parish and town councils showed that 34 councils had voted against continuation to Stage 4, while only three had voted in favour. How were these views represented by the Cabinet of Allerdale District Council?

Messrs Woodburn and Reed may claim that they merely wish to progress to Stage 4 of the process. I have discussed the issue of cost above, but even more disturbing is the Government’s lack of providing a legal “opt out” clause, should our councils wish to opt out further down the line. If Woodburn and Reed had their way, they would happily fritter away tax payers’ money to discover that the geology of Cumbria is unsafe, but we may not be able to opt out at that late stage anyway!

I do hope that our National Government see the pleas of Jamie Reed MP and Cllr Elaine Woodburn for what they are – the pleas of sore losers. And I hope that when the elections arrive, that their constituents will remember how their representatives were so willing to gamble with, not just their hard earned money, but their trust, and in a worse case scenario, their lives.

Coun Fiona ROBSON

Hasell Street, Carlisle

SIR – After a period of closure, the Salvation Army kitchen has been completely refurbished to bring it up to modern standards.

We are now able to continue with our twice weekly lunch clubs. These three course meals are available at the old price of £3.

All are welcome on Tuesday and Friday for a set meal at noon. Although we have no officers or ministers at the present we are still going strong in God’s service.

With heart to God and hand to man.

Brian HUMPHREYS

for Whitehaven Salvation Army

16 Dickinson Court, Whitehaven

SIR – No-one has a good word to say for the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy. It has too often failed to constrain fisheries ministers from taking short term decisions to permit overfishing. In consequence our fish stocks are much depleted and Europe now imports two thirds of all the fish we eat.

MEPs have only recently gained new legal powers over fisheries and they have used them effectively. Last week (February 6) the European Parliament voted by the astonishing margin of 502-137 to give its backing to major reforms. Negotiations must still be concluded, but it will soon become a legal requirement that every fishery be conducted in accord with a long term management plan, based on best scientific evidence, that will insist upon the rebuilding of fish stocks.

Fishermen will have to land all the fish they catch, ending the annual disgrace of millions of tonnes of edible fish being caught then discarded, dead. Stronger penalties will be introduced for those who break the rules. There will be problems to overcome, but if we have more fish in the sea there will be a more secure future for fishermen.

Two years ago I set up in the European Parliament a cross-party group, Fish for the Future, to raise awareness of the need for reform. It has worked to ensure that the issue was not hijacked by vested interests opposed to change, particularly those of France and Spain. Many pressure groups outside parliament have claimed that our efforts had significant influence in securing such a successful result. This is because we had the support of MEPs in all political groups and of many nationalities.

I would like to thank in particular some other MEPs who represent this region: Sir Robert Atkins, Jackie Foster and Sajjad Karim for the Conservatives; Arlene McCarthy and Brian Simpson for Labour. Last week we used our votes to secure a change for the better.

Chris DAVIES

Liberal Democrat MEP for the North West

Castle Street, Stockport

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