We deserve better – let’s hope our representatives deliver
Last updated at 16:14, Wednesday, 05 May 2010
SIR – The Whitehaven News (April 22) ran as its leader the fear of job losses at Sellafield and the concern shown by local union and national government representatives with claims once again that they will fight for every job. So they should.
According to management sources at the site, it’s just pure speculation. But let’s hope that the unions and politicians don’t fall for the oldest management trick in the book by which they start the rumour of 1,200 or so job losses to come, and the unions and politicians think they have a victory when, say, only 300 lose their job with big sighs of relief from the 900 “lucky” ones: lucky until another round of redundancies hit them in six to 12 months time, that is.
Since West Cumbria lost its traditional industrial base in the 1980s, the nuclear industry at Sellafield in all its guises has had what it always wanted: a total stranglehold on the community. The last few years of uncertainty have done nothing to help the local economy as those lucky enough to have a job are in constant fear of the future and are reluctant to go out and spend, which in turn would help the other local businesses. Where are the benefits we were assured when Thorp was being considered?
Two issues were highlighted in The Whitehaven News: the fear of job losses and the state of business in Whitehaven. For the latter, look to the former. Even major contract work is being held up creating more uncertainty for local employers and employees.
The people of West Cumbria deserve better. Much better. Let’s hope our representatives live up to their promises and deliver. The future is here.
Name and address supplied
Speaking out against BNP
SIR – We believe, and are committed to, the principle that everyone resident in the United Kingdom should be treated fairly and equally regardless of the colour of their skin, their ethnic origin and beliefs.
It is essential that all of us address such issues as crime, employment and housing; and that we talk about these and other issues in calm, measured language, which does not increase tension or hatred between communities and people of different race or origin.
While far-right parties such as the British National Party and others are legally registered to participate in this election and express their views within the law, all other parties have the right to disagree with the BNP and to campaign against them.
Each of the parties we represent disagrees with the views expressed by the BNP and will be campaigning against them in Copeland and Workington.
Jamie REED, Tony CUNNINGHAM
For the Labour Party
Chris WHITESIDE, Judith PATTINSON
For the Conservative Party
Frank HOLLOWELL, Stan COLLINS
For the Liberal Democrat Party
Jill PERRY For the Green Party
Responding to political critics
SIR – May I respond to the letters challenging me from James Taylor and Eileen Weir (The Whitehaven News letters, April 22).
The Conservatives have given a clear promise that we will not cut the pensioners Winter Fuel Allowance. And to the rival party who have been suggesting the contrary, I would say, remember the 75p and take the plank out of your own eye.
Like most (but sadly not all) of the candidates in this election, I have fought a campaign which concentrates on the positive things I want to do and the things I want to change. Unfortunately, one party has fought an election campaign characterised by scare tactics and false statements about our manifesto and our record. Eileen Weir’s letter repeats some of the misleading propaganda which a rival party has put out about the Conservative stance.
The late Bob Monkhouse once joked that “the only time politicians tell the truth is when they are calling each other liars”.
Ironically, this campaign has been almost the opposite of that. When parties have discussed their own plans and ambitions, they have generally been reasonably honest. When candidates and parties have attacked their rivals, they have mostly been at best misleading.
A voter who is wondering what to believe about the comments being made in this election will not go too far wrong if he or she assumes that the great majority of what parties and candidates say they want to do is true, and everything the parties and their supporters say about their rivals should be ignored.
Conservative candidate for Copeland
The voters aren’t fools
SIR – In 2005 around 25 million people voted: 9.5 million for Labour; 8.75 million Conservative; and 5.9 million Lib/Dem – not the whole eligible population, simply those interested enough or those not totally hacked off. One would think that with over 40 per cent of the eligible voters not bothering to make the effort to vote, all parties would publish manifestos early enough for all educated adults to read and disseminate their proposals.
Instead, what do we get? We get technical manifestos with the basic amount of detail disclosed and only a bare minimum of three weeks before the populace have to decide who to support.
Why do our parties do this? They say they want our support; they say they will deliver their promises; and they say they will be held responsible. How can all those promises be upheld if they do not at the outset tell us everything they intend to do or hide issues which they can later climb behind and tell us it was in the detail of a manifesto we had no time to disseminate or understand?
When, oh when, will there be total honesty in politics? The first party to tell all, show all and deliver what they tell and show will rule for a long time. The public are not mugs, they are in the main relatively intelligent people and deserve to be treated as such.
G S FAWCETT
Scaw Road, High Harrington
Things that we ought to know...
SIR – When Labour took office in 1997 the National Debt was £350 billion – yes, a lot of money then, and a legacy of the Conservative government, so today’s National Debt is nothing new.
This country, along with all other countries of the modern world, lives by borrowing and paying back, on a continuous basis; many businesses do the same.
During the first 10 years of Labour government when Gordon Brown was Chancellor, many people will admit that they were “well off”. Regeneration was the name of the game: everywhere things were getting better. Interest rates were at about 6.5 per cent, giving a good return on pensioners’ savings. Petrol prices and the cost of living were acceptable... and all this under the guidance of Gordon Brown. He knew finance inside out and was among the brightest of world leaders in that field.
Then finally when he gets his chance at being a Prime Minister with extremely good financial knowledge, what happens? The whole world – not just Britain – dropped into the largest, worst recession seen for many a year.
That recession was not brought about by Gordon Brown, for goodness sake; he had nothing to do with that, but now with his steady firm guidance we are seeing recovery. Many countries are still struggling in the financial forest. Greece is nearly bankrupt, Spain is having extreme problems. France, Germany and Japan owe much more than we do. It takes time and an understanding knowledge gained through experience, to put things right. Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling saved this country’s recession from becoming a 1930 style Depression.
I say, give the man a chance to continue and to bring Britain back to prominence as he says he can.
I believe to change leaders now and hand over to an inexperienced, wet-behind-the-ears person, lacking in the wherewithal to do us all proud, would be a travesty.
VAT’s why they get my vote
SIR – As a former mountain rescue team leader, (and an active Liberal Democrat!) I am delighted that in their manifesto a clear commitment has been made that the Liberal Democrats, if elected, would refund the VAT incurred by mountain rescue teams when purchasing mountain rescue equipment. Rescue teams have been arguing for this for years.
This decision has been made following constant pressure by the former Lib Dem MP in Westmorland, and by Chris Davies Lib Dem MEP, who visited Workington, Cockermouth and Keswick after the November floods, accompanied by the Parliamentary candidates for Copeland and Workington, Frank Hollowell and Stan Collins. They heard at first hand of the vital work of the mountain rescue teams and so many other voluntary organisations as part of the massive and impressive rescue effort.
We are fortunate here in West Cumbria to have a multitude of voluntary bodies working unpaid for the common good. We need to provide much more support for their work, and this relatively inexpensive measure is an indication of what might be done on a wider scale by whichever government comes into power in May. I hope this is an initiative which all political parties will endorse.
Roger PUTNAM MBE
Vice President, Lake District Search & Mountain Rescue Association, Irton
Alternatives for earth energy
SIR – The Lib Dems nationally are right that we don’t need nuclear power (“Candidate at odds with party over nuke power”, April 21). Frank Hollowell should be aware that there are more than enough alternatives that are cheaper, quicker to build, providing greater security, and with none of the headaches of nuclear power.
And those alternatives will provide many opportunities for people throughout the UK, including the Lake District.
Research that is reviewed in the November 2009 issue of Scientific American shows that renewables can meet 100 per cent of the world’s energy needs and that it is technically feasible to do it by 2030. This is in line with several other reports showing how to decarbonise the world’s economies via renewables and improvements in efficiency. The UK is particularly well placed to take advantage of renewable sources of power.
The supposed problem of variability in wind power is much less of an issue than is sometimes suggested. There is a range of techniques available for matching variable demands for electricity with variable supplies .
A recent report, Nuclear Subsidies, from the Energy Fair group shows how the real cost of nuclear power is disguised by several subsidies. Without those subsidies, nuclear power would be hopelessly uncompetitive. And nuclear power stations are notoriously slow to build: the nuclear station being built at Olkiluoto in Finland is unlikely to be finished in less than seven years. No nuclear power station in the UK has ever been built on time.
Dr Gerry WOLFF PhD CEng
Energy Fair, Anglesey
Who’s watching how I vote?
SIR – From reading the text on the poll card I have received, it seems the civil servant who is supervising the election in Copeland has taken the title ‘Acting Returning Officer’; but has been careful to be otherwise completely anonymous.
It is also clearly stated that each ballot paper will carry a ‘unique identifying mark’, the purpose of which is nowhere stated; but which is presumably intended to enable the paper to be traced back to its user – in addition to the electoral register number that the polling station clerk writes on the counterfoil of the ballot paper.
This is an immediate negation of the principle of the ‘secret ballot’.
Just who, I wonder, originated this idea; and authorised the insertion of these ‘unique identifying marks’? And what would be the outcome if I – and all others of a similar opinion – were to obliterate those marks whilst in the polling booth? Would that be considered, by this – and any other – ‘Acting Returning Officer’, to be spoiling our ballot papers; and an excuse for disqualifying all of such votes? And if so: why?
Dyke Street, Frizington
EUAN Holloway from the Electoral Commission replies: “Your reader need not be concerned!
“Basically, a list called a ‘corresponding number list’ is kept at polling stations. When a voter is issued with a ballot paper (including a postal ballot), their electoral number is written next to the number of the ballot paper on this list. The purpose of this list is so that allegations of electoral fraud may be investigated. At the close of poll, the list and ballot papers are securely sealed and stored. They can only be opened by the order of an election court as part of an investigation into electoral fraud.
“While it is therefore theoretically possible to identify who cast a particular vote, it can only be done on the orders of an election court during an investigation into electoral fraud. Further, it is an offence for anyone attending the count to try to find out how any person has voted.”
Hidden costs of moving services
SIR – I am writing this to let the people of Whitehaven know the full extent of services moving from West Cumberland Hospital to Cumberland Infirmary Carlisle.
When the services move, the money moves with them. This means that the West Cumberland Hospital will lose the money which was needed to run these vital services. They are transferring services to Carlisle without even publicising they are doing it. So while Cumberland Infirmary benefits from an increased budget, we in West Cumbria lose vital services. Urology, in particular, is a brilliant service which has helped a lot of patients recover and lead full lives. Staff have spent years achieving their specialist status and the excellent care and treatment which people receive will now be lost.
Tax payers have a right to consultation about the services being removed from West Cumberland Hospital. It is tax payer’s money that funds the NHS, so that makes tax payer’s stakeholders in the NHS.
Calder Avenue, Whitehaven
COLD FELL ROAD
Don’t let us be the fell guys
SIR – In answer to Coun Meteer’s letter about prohibition of the use of Cold Fell road by Sellafield commuters, I live at Kirkland and work at Sellafield. The Cold Fell road is the shortest and most direct route to work for me. I object to being prohibited from it.
Coun Meteer lists advantages and disadvantages of such a prohibition. The advantages section seems decidedly thin: he can only trot out the tired old “potentially it could save lives” mantra, not realising that the risks would just be transferred to other areas with the traffic. The same applies to the quality-of-life issue.
In the disadvantages section I cannot see where he gets “perhaps another 10 to 15 mins on their journey time” from. In my experience, going back to the 1970s, the closure of Cold Fell road for whatever reason adds about an hour to the journey time as all the traffic which usually goes over the fell blocks up the A595 and the A5086. In those circumstances I join a queue from Woodend, all the way to Sellafield. It’s a similar story at home time.
This congestion also in turn increases traffic through St Bees and Beckermet as people from the Whitehaven area take to those minor roads to avoid the congestion around Egremont.
It’s time this problem was looked at in a new light. The real issue is that the main roads; the A595 and A5086 are hopelessly inadequate so the Cold Fell road should be recognised for what it is, a vital part of the local transport infrastructure taking hundreds of cars a day off those inadequate main routes. Far from prohibiting its use, it should be widened where necessary and properly fenced to keep wandering livestock off it.
I am aware that the fell is common land affected by access and grazing rights etc but if plenty of gates, stiles and parking areas are provided I don’t think these would be affected. Livestock casualties would certainly be reduced, surely thus enhancing their owners’ quality of life.
West Road, Kirkland
First published at 15:46, Wednesday, 05 May 2010
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
- Woman found dead in Wath Brow
- Cumbrian bike racer who hit parked ambulance awarded six-figure sum
- Hell on the Harbourside
- Cocktail bar aiming to add spice to Cumbrian town's nightlife
- Thousands welcome troops to Whitehaven (8 comments)
- Couple unearth Mick Jagger’s local links
- Hornets put league champions to sword
- Whitehaven Musical Festival hits the high notes
- Mamma Mia! sing-a-long fans say thank you for the music
- Festival boost thanks to firm’s support
- Thousands welcome troops to Whitehaven (8 comments)
- Woman found dead in Wath Brow
- Cumbria police investigate sudden death of man, 18
- NMP ‘needs to change – or lose Sellafield contract’ (15 comments)
- Hell on the Harbourside
- Go-ahead for superfast broadband roll-out across Cumbria (30 comments)
- Fears that state of lighthouses will stop people visiting Whitehaven (28 comments)
- Plans made to stop using Ennerdale as water source (13 comments)
- At The Playgound festival at Whitehaven - review and pictures (3 comments)
- Police called to 'out of control' birthday party (21 comments)