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Sunday, 05 July 2015

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Sadly welfare reform will mean other tragic stories like Peter’s

SIR – Sadly I fear that Peter Hodgson will not be the last person to take their life in the coming months of this year (“Fears over benefits led to tragedy”, The Whitehaven News, December 27).

I knew Peter, and I know he would rather work than claim benefits. It was visibly clear that he was unable to work and his medical history would strongly indicate this.

I do not refer to the persons who actively seek employment and meet the ridiculously high demands that job seekers have to do to get a basic benefit, nor those with genuine disabilities.

I know of` many who have managed to hoodwink the new medical tests, and amazingly also win their appeals. All are able, but unwilling, to work because of the benefits the extra income provides.

The extra funding allows the claimant to become an alcohol-drug user/abuser or both, which in turn manufactures public embarrassment and presents a nightmare for their neighbours at the same time.

They will remain unaffected by the impending cuts in benefit that others will worryingly suffer.

When are those in power going to stop these people intentionally making themselves unemployable?

Look properly at these people and you will see what I see.

God bless Peter.

Name and address supplied

SIR – I was pleased to read in the national press that over a third of councils now plan a reduction of speed limit on at least some residential roads to 20mph.

It is now over two years since I addressed Cumbria County Council (Allerdale group) requesting they implement such a scheme, only to be told that, on the recommendation of officers, they considered such a scheme to be against regulations; this despite contrary evidence from around the country.

I have continued since then to lobby the council on this issue, particularly since its successful introduction in neighbouring Lancashire, where the issue was driven by Green Party councillor Sam Riches and gained cross-party support.

I am given to understand that Cumbria County Council is currently reviewing speed limits across the county. Given evidence from other areas that 20mph schemes reduce both the number and severity of accidents I trust the idea of “20’s plenty” will be given serious consideration in this review.

Geoff SMITH, Chair

Allerdale & Copeland Green Party

SIR – Very often the debate about the nuclear waste repository seems to ignore one of its most salient features: Time.

The half life of plutonium239 is 24,000 years. Mankind has very little success in creating physical structures that last 2000 or even 1000 years, a fraction of that time. How many buildings remain intact from the time of Jesus? It is an arrogant childlike fantasy to suppose we can create anything to contain toxins for these sorts of periods.

We have to face up to a future of temporary storage until technology provides a proven safe way of proceeding. The West Cumbrian communities should not get embroiled any further in the planning for this repository.


Briscoe Road, Egremont

SIR – I wish to respond to the letter from Mr McKirdy of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (The Whitehaven News, letters, January 3).

Mr McKirdy states that NDA is happy to share all relevant facts with your readers. May I add a few further relevant facts that Mr. McKirdy seems to have overlooked?

In my letter (December 27) and with regard to the NDA’s position that there are no current proposals for Ennerdale, I stated: “This is probably true”. Mr Ellis was asked that if Dr Dearlove had identified the Ennerdale fell as having a potential to host a GDF, would the NDA select it for investigation during stage 4. Mr Ellis admitted the NDA would do so. I was standing within six feet of Mr Ellis when he spoke and there were over 100 other people present to hear the same. For clarity, the NDA has not (as yet) identified the Ennerdale fell for investigation but will do so, should the MRWS process continue to stage 4.

Mr McKirdy states in his letter: “The position is that we [NDA] would investigate any sites or areas that have been volunteered by the community.” Which community is he referring to? Why, like Mr Clarke, has Mr McKirdy not mentioned the important host community? Or is the existence of the host community not a relevant fact?

Mr McKirdy refers to the approach taken by Canada in pursuing the same path. A relevant fact is that Canada searched for the most suitable geology first and then sought a volunteer community. May I reiterate a further relevant fact that the UK is alone in seeking a volunteer community first and then examining the geology.

Mr McKirdy’s final comments relate to the probability of finding suitable geology for a GDF, in West Cumbria. He refers to the British Geological Survey, that sought “to identify those areas in West Cumbria that do not have suitable geology” and only to identify areas that are not suitable. An important relevant fact is that the British Geological Survey did not make any assessment of the probability of finding suitable geology in those areas not excluded. One should avoid the inference that the remaining areas have a good prospect of being geologically suitable. I am aware of three expert geological opinions on the prospect of finding suitable geology in West Cumbria; they range from “none” to “low probability” to “not particularly promising”. The need for fiscal probity at a time of austerity is also be a relevant fact.

I regret that Mr McKirdy seems to have missed some further relevant facts, in his letter. Our community deserves and has the right to have full disclosure of all information. Our community must have the opportunity to make an informed decision on whether or not it wishes to host a GDF.

And finally, I would suggest that the most important point of all is not about whether or not to investigate further but to ensure that any future host community’s wishes are respected and accepted by our politicians.

David I. WOOD

Enerdale Bridge, Cleator

SIR – It seems entirely reasonable for the people of Ennerdale and Kinniside to be concerned about the search for a nuclear waste site in West Cumbria, given that Ennerdale rock has already been identified by MRWS geologists as being of interest, despite it being “less than ideal”.

I am also mindful of the comments made by the ex-MP for Furness and chairman of the Nuclear Industries Association, Lord John Hutton, in last week’s Whitehaven News. He said that a “no” vote to search for a nuclear waste site in Cumbria would be “passing the buck”. Coming from a non-Cumbrian who appears to have lived mostly in London, Oxford and Essex, I would ask who is passing the buck to whom? Yet another politician with a vested interest in the nuclear industry trying to pass the buck to Cumbria? Cumbria is about as far away from Westminster as you can get without entering Scotland. The “buck” would be conveniently out of sight and out of mind.

Lord Hutton (a board member of US nuclear power company Hyperion Power Generation) also reminded us that the whole of the UK has benefited from “cheap” nuclear power over the past 50 years. So why accuse only Cumbria of buck passing? Just because Cumbria has been the custodian for legacy nuclear waste at Sellafield in the past, it does not follow that Cumbria is therefore somehow responsible for the nation’s entire nuclear new-build untreated waste.

I keep reading the phrase, “Most of the nuclear waste is already at Sellafield anyway”. If that’s the case, why is a repository four times the size of the Sellafield site required to store it?

With the bully-boy politicians busily trying to beat us with the “buck-passing” stick and others frantically waving the “benefits” carrot at us, we are being unscrupulously harassed. Copeland Borough Council’s autonomous volunteering of West Cumbria to take part in this search has well and truly kicked the hornets’ nest.

Perhaps it is timely to consider some of Chief Seattle’s profound words in his reply to the offer from Washington to buy a large area of Indian land in 1854: “The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth… If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?… Man did not weave the web of life: he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself… Contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.”

Name and address supplied

SIR – I was very concerned to read your recent article (The Whitehaven News, December 20) which included proposed plans by West Cumberland Hospital and the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle, to transfer acutely ill patients at the rate of two a day from Whitehaven to Carlisle.

The plan raises several concerns for me which I have included in a letter to our MP Jamie Reed. The issues I have raised are ,

1. Why were acutely ill patients chosen to be transferred and not medically stable patients such as elective, and why do any patients need to be transferred?

2. What criteria is being put in place for the selection of patients to be transferred and what safeguards will be in place to ensure the transfer of acutely ill patients on a long and difficult road will not cause any adverse effects for these patients ?

3. What plan is in place to deal with any unexpected medical problems that may arise during the journey?

4. How will the ambulance service cope with the increased demand, and will they cope or will it entail the use of private ambulances to meet the shortfall (or a reduction in the numbers of available emergency ambulances or skill mix of emergency ambulance staff)?

5. Will the reduction of acutely ill patients at WCH result, in the long term, in a de-skilling of staff currently providing their care by default, and will this affect the numbers of beds currently available in areas where these patients would be cared for such as ITU /CCU at WCH?

6. How will CIC cope with the high numbers of seriously ill patients they will have to care for?

7. Once these poorly patients are over the acute phase of their illnesses, will they be transferred back to WCH or a hospital near where they live or will they be simply sent to any available cottage hospital bed to relieve the bed pressures at CIC?

8. Finally, what facilities will be available to the increased numbers of relatives from the West Cumberland area who will be desperate to stay near the CIC to be near their loved ones, especially while they are very ill?

I understand the Trust’s need to review its services and make best use of its recourses but I for one will not rest in my bed until the answers to my concerns make me feel my family and I will be in safe hands should we ever be in such a position.

Mrs Margaret Burns RGN

Bedford Street, Hensingham

SIR – My husband was in the West Cumberland Hospital for a week in November/December 2012, from A&E to both ends of Gable Ward.

He received the best possible care and consideration, and the efficiency of the ambulance staff and all the staff on the wards was more than satisfactory. Thank you

Elizabeth COTES

St Bees

SIR – Christine Wharrier’s letter (The Whitehaven News, January 3) pinpoints a major problem for those who work outside the health industry – national or private – the problem of understanding the meaning of the professional or ‘trade’ language used.

We trust those in charge to deal honestly and openly with us, the public, in matters that affect our local health service. It seems that our trust could be misplaced – hence the need for brokers, people like the Rev John Bannister and Christine Wharrier who understand and can interpret into plain English what “management” actually mean when they propose changes (drastic or otherwise) to our hospital and its provisions for the West Cumbrian community.

Likewise the excellent letter by David I. Wood (The Whitehaven News, December 27) concerning the proposed nuclear waste facility. It takes patience, three years in his case, and understanding to interpret just what is happening about us when local politicians and nuclear experts appear to collude in trying to achieve their objective – a nuclear waste dump.

I believe this country needs nuclear power to survive but I am against nuclear waste from all corners of the UK, or other parts of the world come to that. Each nuclear power plant should look after its own waste in its own area – just as many do outside the UK, I believe. I have also tended to trust those in charge of Sellafield to do the “right thing” – but regretfully over the years that trust has perhaps been misplaced. Perhaps even more so now that we have many foreign nationals in charge down in Sellafield – short service contract personnel who will disappear, wallets full, and perhaps not too mindful of the long-term consequences of their input.

My interest and ongoing criticism is largely dealing with Copeland Boough Council’s sheer waste of money and inflated allowances and expenses taken by councillors. A voluntary reduction would save public toilets and the Tourist Information Centre – to name but two – in the huge public service cuts about to be introduced. My quest is mere basic nuts and bolts stuff when compared with the contribution that others like David Wood, John Bannister, Christine Wharrier, Arthur Millie and a few others with their determination to get some honesty into the subject they have an interest in and sharing it with readers of The Whitehaven News.

I’m sure I speak for many when I say thanks to them all and please keep us informed through your valued letters.

In the meantime – New Year resolution – let’s get a straight answer from our councillors about halving their generous allowances and expenses (remember – approximately £26 a gallon/£6 litre of fuel claimed on car mileage).


Ash Grove, Whitehaven

SIR – May I, through your paper, urge all listeners to Radio Cumbria’s Anne Hopper, to write to Mark Elliot, head of BBC Radio Cumbria, to complain about the terrible way she has been treated.

To move her programme from Sunday afternoon to 10pm-12pm, on a Saturday evening is ridiculous, when you consider the age group Anne caters for.

Whoever made this decision should be ashamed. After all the years of loyal service Anne has given to the BBC, she should be given more respect.

I will continue to listen to Anne and I hope she will not lose her loyal listeners, so they will have an excuse to axe her altogether. I won’t be switching on for any other programme until Anne is back where she belongs.


Sandringham Avenue, Whitehaven

SIR – Following a couple of weeks suffering with overnight cramps I visited my local surgery where my doctor kindly prescribed some quinine tables to resolve my discomfort.

Some couple of weeks later, with the cramps slowly disappearing, I found myself reading the notes that came with the tablets. It would appear that possible side effects of the quinine tablets ranged from in-growing toe nails through to the plague and even death.

This depressed me somewhat – so I have applied self medication – I’m now on a gin and tonic each evening – with a slice of lemon that also offers an increased intake of healthy vitamins. My cramps are disappearing and I go to bed happy without a care in the world and tend to sleep right through the night. Happy New Year.




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