Letters and emails on August 10, 2011

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While Rupert Murdoch and associates were having their faces rubbed in it the other week, the Coalition Government - using the time honoured “burying bad news” tactic - took the opportunity to slip out an announcement that eight National Health Services worth £1 billion, including musculoskeletal services, wheelchair services for children and adult community psychological therapies, will be open to bids from the private sector. In the NHS Reform Bill there are 15 clauses allowing private companies to buy and asset-strip NHS facilities. In view of this, people may well ask if the NHS is safe in the Government’s hands. Hands up those local MPs who have read the whole bill and can, hand on heart, say yes it is! Gerard Parke-Hatton, Woodplumpton Lane, Broughton

Brussels will always sprout

Your political columnist Chris Moncrieff must have set a record for the number of column inches filled by one individual in the cause of telling us how wasteful the European Union is and how Britain ought to withdraw if these wasters cannot mend their ways. I happen to agree with him but Mr Moncrieff, who has vast experience of politics, will know that he has more chance of being struck by lightning. Those who earn their living in politics, including those who hold on to the politicians’ coat tails and who administer their various rules and regulations, are, to appropriate George Osborne’s unfortunate phrase, all in it together. There are tens of thousands of them across Europe, all in the business of feathering their own nests with as much taxpayers’ money as they can lay their hands on. It is no coincidence that people who work in politics enjoy excellent pay and unbelievable pension arrangements at senior level. Even at the lowliest level, local councillors have managed to create a worthwhile system of expenses and allowances in a role which was always unpaid. From time to time, when the economy dips, they will be required to make savings, but they will never reduce their own number unless it involves a huge pay-off. They are a force of nature about which we can do nothing and the EU is a prime and unstoppable example. Sorry, Mr Moncrieff but you are tilting at windmills Defeated, via email

Our 30th not-so Glorious Twelfth

The Wildlife and Countryside Act is now in its 30th year. Despite its admirable intentions, incidents of poisoning, trapping and shooting of birds of prey continue to occur with depressing regularity. The number of prosecutions is not keeping pace with these incidents because they are a problem to detect and prosecutions are themselves notoriously difficult to obtain. Animal Aid has written to Defra Minister Jim Paice MP urging him to follow the Scottish government’s lead of introducing a Criminal Vicarious Liability law. This makes landowners, employers and all who commission or allow the persecution of wildlife, accountable under the Act. The Animal Aid letter to Mr Paice is sent as the so-called “Glorious Twelfth” approaches - the start of the grouse shooting season. It serves to emphasise the link between the deliberate illegal persecution of birds of prey and what many of us regard as a morally repugnant grouse shooting industry. For more information and a free Anti-Shooting information pack, please visit the Animal Aid website or call 01732 364546. Andrew Tyler, Director, Animal Aid, via email

By consent, not very effective

I watched the Home Secretary on the news this morning (Tuesday). The reporter asked her whether, because of the scale of the rioting, it was not time for water cannon or the Army to be deployed. Oh no, she said, we police with consent. You couldn’t make it up could you? Alan Nuttall, Lea, via email.

Way to go for a solution

Memo to the police, who at the time of writing, seem unable to stop stop the rioting. Send for the Army...the Syrian Army. Job done. J Williams, via email

A way of closing claims loophole

There is a lot of debate in the national media about prisoners in our jails suing the State for large amounts in damages for things that happen to them while serving their sentences. One is the convicted killer Levi Bellfield. He says he will use his payout to buy a caravan. The family could, of course, sue him for damages and if successful any money he won would simply go direct to them. But why should victims and their families go through all the trauma and uncertainty of legal battles? Suppose legislation was brought in to make it automatic that damages were awarded by the trial judges when passing sentences. This would save much distress and make it pointless for these criminals to try and win money from the State. No profit should be gained from crime. Jeff McCann, Hoghton, via email

Jamboree was for founder’s birthday

I write in response to the letter from Mrs Margaret Smith regarding the 1957 Scouts’ Jubilee Jamboree (August 3). In fact the Scouts are not actually celebrating 154 years of existence this year. The celebration in 1957 was to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lord Baden-Powell the founder of scouting. He took the first group of boys to camp on Brownsea Island in 1907. The Scout Association celebrated the centenary year of its formation in 2007. World jamborees are held every four years. The first purpose-built Scout Museum at Waddecar tells the story of Scouting since its formation and welcomes visitors each Saturday or by appointment. Readers can visit visit www.storyofscouting.org.uk for further information. Audrey Forster, via email

Capture those wildlife moments

Martin Mere’s photography competition opens for entries on September 1. All photographers, novice and experienced, young and old are welcome. Four seasonal heats are held over 12 months with several categories. You could photograph wetland wildlife, landscapes or even capture that moment when a brightly coloured dragonfly lands on grandad’s hat! Make it a project for the family and see who can get the best shot of a swan stretching its wings, a water vole peeking from under the reeds, or the sun setting over the wetlands. The winner of the People’s Choice Award will win a narrowboat holiday for four. Finally, if mum, dad, gran or grandad is a bit of a star photographer on the quiet, they could win a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Antarctica. For all the details, visit www.wwt.org.uk/photo. Victoria Fellowes, WWT, via email