Letters: High-speed rail link, and council waste
Dubious benefits of high-speed rail link
The Government tells us that High Speed Rail 2 will benefit the economy.
In a speech to the Institute of Civil Engineers, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin argued that rejecting HS2 would amount to a "national loss of confidence". HS2 was necessary because the "clogged arteries" of the nation's transport system needed a "heart bypass", he said. But Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs, believes: "Any private investor would consider this to be a colossal waste of money. The Government was asking UK taxpayers to take "a huge gamble on their extremely dodgy numbers".
Mr McLoughlin argues that High Speed Two will make Liverpool stronger, Manchester stronger, Leeds stronger, Sheffield stronger. "A £15 billion annual boost to the economy. With the North and Midlands gaining at least double that of the south." There it is from the horse's mouth, the Secretary of State for Transport has admitted that there is nothing in HS2 for the South Country (South West, South East and East Anglia).
The Public Accounts Committee criticised the scheme, saying: "So far, the Department [of Transport] has made decisions based on fragile numbers, out-of-date data and assumptions which do not reflect real life."
The committee also said there was no evidence that the line would help the growth of regional cities and would instead draw even more business to London.
The South Country, without a devolved government to protect it, will be paying out to grow the North and Midlands at the expense of the South and West. Even in the North it will be many decades before they see any benefit from the billions to be spent, assuming that there are indeed benefits to the northern regions.
All The South Party
Disgraceful waste to leave house empty
It made me really angry when I read about the way Somerset County Council waste tax payers money ("Sad to see farm house's decline", Western Daily Press, September 4).
What a disgraceful waste when a family could have been living in the farm house at Pepperhill, near Over Stowey, paying rent and council tax. Instead the council has not only lost a lot of money, but by leaving it empty has shamefully neglected the house. Will Somerset CC do anything to improve the condition of the house before they sell the farm ? Either way, I am sure they won't make as much as they would if it had been let for the last two years and kept in a liveable state.
Instead it is now not safe to live in, and they have the audacity to tell us that they "want to secure the best possible value on the property for the benefit of the taxpayer". Councils seem to have no idea, or even any common sense, when it comes to business and in this case have made a huge financial blunder,
Then I read Mel Smith's letter ("Paying £20,000 to Tesco is unbelievable", Western Daily Press, September 9). Too true it is. What planet do these councillors live on? Tesco certainly don't need any help as far as money is concerned.
Winscombe, North Somerset
Concern from all sides at Mail sell-off
I'm sure any one of the well informed regular Euro-sceptics that occupy the letters pages can correct T Reynolds (September 9) with his assumption that the Labour Party is solely responsible for Royal Mail not having a monopoly to deliver letters and small packages. The EU directives of 1997, 2002 and 2008 have all chipped away at the letters monopoly that the company enjoyed for over 150 years.
In fact the previous Labour government came under constant criticism from within the EU over its support of the postal industry in the UK. The main accusation was that the Labour government was giving what amounted to state aid to the Royal Mail company but nothing to its competitors. Another criticism aimed at the Labour Government was that it continued to give Royal Mail an exemption from paying VAT while its competitors were compelled to pay the full amount. At the time, one director of TNT compared Labour's hand outs to the Post Office network as like giving lottery money to Manchester United instead of Gloucester City.
In recent weeks the general public have signed in their droves petitions at Labour Party stalls in town centres across the South West. You never see a Tory Party stall asking for support for its plan to flog off Royal Mail. The truth is opposition to any sell-off crosses the political divide with voters from all sides expressing concern.