Letters, August 19: HS2, ADHD and live animal exports
HS2 money could be more useful locally
Earlier this year the Government revised the estimated cost of High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) upwards from £30 billion to £40 billion. Now we are told that the final cost is likely to be twice that, at £80 billion.
As a country we cannot afford it. Besides which it is not the best way of spending money on transport. HS2 is a vanity project designed to convey government ministers and BBC executives between London, Birmingham and Manchester. The current coalition Government's transport secretary is every bit as committed to the HS2 white elephant as his Labour predecessor.
HS2 will be of no benefit to the country as a whole. A small fraction of the money planned to be spent on HS2 could revolutionise local transport.
This country is about the most centralised in Europe. It is all about London. The South Country (South West, South East and East Anglia) needs a devolved parliament to plan transport across the south, and take planning away from Whitehall where HS2 was dreamt up.
All The South Party
Commission is the wrong messenger
It is no surprise that Brian Daniels of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights should be railing against Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, even if there are legitimate concerns over the use of Ritalin, which is also being used by students as a brain booster.
Psychiatry is not above criticism or scrutiny, but nor is this self-appointed commission. Although its links to the Church of Scientology are well known. Less well known is that its co-founder Thomas Szasz, believed that we should be as free to buy all the barbiturates and morphine we want and could afford. How does this square with the commission being against drugs?
Peter Hitchens also rejects the validity of ADHD, but does so from a conservative and Christian standpoint, which is preferable to that of an unholy alliance between a science-fiction writer and a libertarian.
Act to bring an end to these exports
Now that the export of live animals to the continent for the meat trade has switched from Ramsgate to Dover, Chris Rundle (Daily Press August 14) accuses the RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming of using predictably melodramatic language in their continuing efforts to end this trade.
Reference his comments that transport improvements have been made "thanks, it must be admitted, to campaigning by animal welfarists", he needs reminding that less than a year ago a four-tiered lorry crammed with sheep was stopped at Ramsgate due to vehicle faults. When the animals were moved to a temporary holding pen and examined by vets, 43 had to be destroyed (one had a broken leg, another was extremely sick and 41 were severely lame). Clearly these animals were unfit to undertake the sea voyage. It is difficult to believe that of the countless animals exported each year the poor condition of these sheep was a one-off incident.
For all those people who feel that inflicting unnecessary long and stressful journeys on animals is unacceptable, and who agree with campaigners that trade should be in meat only, not living beings, two things can be done:
Go to www.rspca.org.uk/, enter "take action live transport" in the 'Enter search term' box and click option 1 to add your name to their email message to Dover Harbour Board's chief executive asking him to accept the RSPCA's offer to monitor the live trade from his port in the same way they were allowed to do at Ramsgate.
Add your name to Compassion in World Farming's email message to Farming Minister David Heath at www.ciwf.org.uk/, or write to him at Defra, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR) telling him to stop hiding behind EU law and instead amend the 1847 Harbours, Docks & Piers Clauses Act so that it gives local authorities more power over the trade they allow through their ports – it is known that many port authorities would rather not allow shipments of live animals but their hands are tied by this legisiation.
Surely it's time this outdated 1847 Act is amended to enable the UK to make its own decision about its own animals currently classified merely as "goods"?
Steam is still the big and useful attraction
Myself and my colleagues at Dunster are here 52 weeks a year and each of us spends an average of three days a week volunteering, not only when trains are running but during the rest of the year, doing maintenance and cleaning – the station doesn't look after itself.
Prior to my retirement (mostly working a 48-hour week for 40 hours pay on the buses) I still found time to volunteer as a signalman for ten years. We couldn't look after our visitors if we gave any less of our time and I know it is appreciated. Out of the thousand or so volunteers working on the West Somerset Railway there are a hard core of dedicated people who are here between two and five days a week, 52 weeks a year and enjoying every minute of it.
Greg Heathcliffe's opinion (Daily Press August 16) of diesel engines is just that – his opinion, and it is not shared by the vast majority of our visitors, who are here to see steam-hauled trains. As for playing trains – he needs to get down here when we have events like, the Dunster Show or the Minehead Festival. He would be amazed at how we also serve as a mode of transport for all those visitors and we beat the parallel local bus services hands down. It is a recognised fact that towns like Watchet would receive considerably fewer visitors if there were no steam trains, as the majority of people simply wouldn't bother to take a ride on a bus to get there from Minehead, let alone anywhere else. Put simply – we are "user friendly".
Station Master, Dunster, Somerset
Will bequest end up in this 'black hole'?
I am offended with certain phrases which people in the public eye come out with, the latest example concerning males and females? The male and female sex are bound to be different in all sorts of ways. We are all individuals, so why should there be problems when one sex is better than the other?
Another topic in the news ("Use cash for project close to her heart" Daily Press August 15) concerning the money left by retired nurse, Joan Edwards to the government in power, which they have now agreed to give to the Treasury. Why and what will they do with this money, or will it be swallowed up into their "black hole" and will we be told?
I don't agree with Charlotte Leslie when she says it is right that it should go to the Treasury, but then she is a Conservative MP, but I do agree with Kerry McCarthy (I don't vote Labour) who says at least some of the money should be used for various local hospitals, and I think the rest should also be used to benefit the community in the area where Miss Edwards lived and worked.
Winscombe, North Somerset