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Letters and emails on February 23, 2012

The Lancashire Evening Post’s letters’ pages online

It is hardly surprising that a free market think tank (the Adam Smith Institute), has produced a report arguing against regulation. What we should be surprised by is its claim that there is no evidence that putting tobacco products into plain packaging will deter young people from taking up smoking. The exact opposite is true, with a large and growing body of evidence suggesting that plain packaging would be effective. In a range of different studies, researchers have consistently found that plain packaging makes tobacco products less appealing to both children and adults. Interestingly, while tobacco industry lobbyists claim that plain packaging will make no difference, they also claim exactly the opposite when they say that plain packaging will ruin local retailers. There are no grounds to believe either position. The deterrent effect of plain packaging means that tobacco sales should decline gradually, but not immediately, with the main effect being to reduce the number of young people becoming new smokers. Sheila Duffy, ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), via email

Shock figures but gym’ll fix it

The majority of people in the UK deem themselves to be fit and healthy despite the fact that most are not meeting the Government’s minimum exercise and dietary recommendations. The findings are the result of a survey we commissioned which explored people’s exercise and dietary habits. When questioned whether people felt they were ‘fit’, 54% answered ‘yes’. This is despite the fact that only 17% are achieving the Government’s recommended target of five exercise sessions per week. Shockingly, a quarter also admit to participating in no physical activity whatsoever. Price of gym membership is the number one reason people cite for not exercising more but, for example, at less than £20 per month, our membership is less than half the price of satellite television subscription. It’s shocking that such a high percentage of people are not exercising enough to maintain a basic level of fitness. Working out in a gym is not the only solution to an active lifestyle but it is one option. John Treharne, Chief Executive, The Gym Group

Family firm part of the furniture

In August 2009, I received a kind invitation to the final closing down sale of Bambers at 101-104 Friargate, which was a century-old family business and the home of top quality furniture. Whilst there, as a keen local historian, I spoke to members of staff, including the proprietor Mr Donald Bamber, grandson of Richard Bamber who started the business in 1909 as a second hand furniture shop. Donald is on the left of the (Looking Back) photo on the opposite page. At the time, he kindly showed me a large portrait of the founder in the rear offices and gave me an insight into the development of the business. In September of that year I returned to take the photo of him and his staff for posterity and there was a distinct tone of sadness in the conversations which followed. Mr Bamber had decided to retire after 55 years and to close the store. It was a sad time, he observed, but people’s buying habits had changed and young people were not buying for the long term. Thousands of Prestonians would have passed through the shop over the last century, including my own parents, myself and family. When I pass this particular end of Friargate these days, it somehow does not seem the same. When Bambers closed it really was the end of an era in retailing. Should members of staff, and the Bamber family, see this photo, I hope it will bring back nostalgic memories of all that was best about good customer relationships and loyalty to the public. John Siddall, Fulwood

Boxing shows its true colours

I have always thought boxing was a horrible “sport”; how can any endeavour be considered civilised when the aim is to hurt people? Fans maintain that it is not proper violence because it is controlled, and that the aim is to demonstrate skill and speed, rather than to beat someone senseless. So why does it not surprise me when violence goes beyond the ring, as with Dereck Chisora and David Haye? Gillian Andrews, via email

Des res or smoke and mirrors?

You report that there are more than 2,000 empty homes in Preston despite there being 3,000 people on waiting lists. Accepting that there will always be some empty homes in any area, I wonder what the comparable percentage of empty homes is in say Chelsea or Tunbridge Wells, or even nationally. If the figure for Preston is seen to be excessive, then one has to question if the City Council is pursuing the issue with sufficient vigour. This then leads to the recent new-build planning applications on green field sites around Preston. These have gone through primarily because Preston cannot demonstrate a five year housing supply. The planning inspector for the local development framework is insisting on a five year supply at a rate of 507 houses a year. The empty homes figure equates to a four-and-a-half-year supply. On that basis, is there really any demonstrable need for new build housing on green field sites in Preston? Has it all been a con trick by developers? Smoke and mirrors? Roughyed, via LEP website

Restoration Man needs projects

I work on the Channel 4 programme The Restoration Man presented by architect George Clarke, which follows families around the UK who breathe new life into old and unusual buildings by restoring them. From the success of our second series which has been showing every Thursday on Channel 4, we have been commissioned for a new series so we are now on the lookout for new buildings and would love to find some in Lancashire. We are looking for a variety of properties such as follies, former public toilets, dovecotes, old military and railway buildings and towers. We are especially interested in Grade 1 listed buildings. Full planning permission and finance must be in place. Please contact us on Restorationman@tigeraspect.co.uk, Tel: 033 577 7772 Tom Cullum, assistant producer, via email

There’s wealth down those lanes

I took a wrong turning on a weekend walk in the countryside, and although I realised my mistake, decided to plod on. I became more and more amazed at the number of luxury homes - converted barns and cottages with sweeping gardens, paddocks with horses and two high end motor vehicles in the driveway. This scene was just a few miles from the centre of Preston, which the doomsayers insist is dying on its feet. The potential for revival is certainly out there. And I think Lancashire is a lot more prosperous than people realise. Name and address supplied

 

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