Letters and emails on December 15, 2011

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The Lancashire Evening Post’s letters’ pages online

When is Ofgem going to get to grips with the Big 6 energy suppliers, a cosy cartel of UK energy businesses that actively advocate the switching of energy suppliers on the understanding that this will save them vast amounts of money? A number of so-called energy saving websites, which advertise big savings, collect data on their behalf and receive commission for this information and any switch they can engineer. They offer savings of between £260 and £390 per year for switching suppliers but when push comes to shove, these savings are just not there. This form of advertising must be stopped. Rarely, if at all, does it save money for the consumer, and it constitutes what can only be described as a scam. Fining energy companies for poor customer service is not sufficient, as this does not repatriate any money lost by consumers who switch. The Advertising Standards Agency should be aware of this and act accordingly. After all, these companies are very quick to increase prices by 30% but not so quick to lower them when wholesale prices come down. Why is this, when they make annual profits in excess of £4bn? Derek Barton, Secretary, North West Regional Pensioners Association, Ingol

Better off keeping our distance

Congratulations to the Prime Minister of Britain for telling France and Germany what they can do with their new EU treaty. Whether the new proposals would have been unfair on Britain financial institutions I neither know nor care. What I do know is that countries which have gone bankrupt, such as Greece, or are on their way to bankruptcy, such as Portugal and maybe even Italy, cannot be saved by being given yet more money that they will have to pay back. As every housewife knows, this is only staving off the inevitable. Britain is better off distancing itself as much as possible from this madness, even though this nation is bound to suffer some of the fallout in the long run. J Tate, Walton-le-Dale

Keepers don’t hound the harrier

I read with interest the article on the hen harrier (Evening Post December 8). As with any article on the hen harrier, it seems this one could not be written without some demonisation of gamekeepers and grouse moor managers. Firstly can I just say that no gamekeeper is paid enough to risk the consequences of killing a hen harrier or destroying its nest, nor would any employer condone such action. It may have happened in the past, but not nowadays. One fact which seems to be overlooked is that every aspect of a moorkeeper’s role is to provide the best environment for grouse to flourish and multiply. It follows that these conditions are also exactly the same conditions that the hen harrier needs to survive. As for the suggestion of a “new” diversionary feeding scheme, this is nothing new at all. Over 10 years ago a pigeon loft was erected (by gamekeepers) on a grouse moor on the Bowland fells where all rejects from local pigeon racing clubs were housed and released there, purely as an alternative prey to grouse chicks. It is fair to say. though, that the Peregrine made greater use of this cuisine. The constant criticism of gamekeepers only creates a barrier between them and us. Perhaps it should be remembered that without grouse shooting, and the costly moor management that goes with it, there would be no opportunity for the hen harrier to exist. But what about all the other bird species that inhabited the Forest of Bowland..,the Golden Plover and many other species no longer evident or in serious decline? It appears that unless it happens to be a bird of prey which conflicts with sporting interests, the RSPB is just not interested. Perhaps if the RSPB could offload some of their prejudices, their work may benefit from the first hand knowledge of people living and working in the thick of it. J Giddins, full address supplied.

Festive tunes cheered us up

We had our first carol-singers last night (Dec 12). I was tempted to tell them to come back later, but actually, amid all the doom and gloom, hearing them was lovely. Mrs Graham, Chorley

Let’s expand our trade horizons

The new EU proposals, so far, promote an austerity programme for the south of Europe that is going to stifle growth, increase unemployment in both public and private sectors and reduce opportunities. Last Friday’s summit has done nothing to solve the problems of Greece and Italy (with Spain not far behind. They are simply racking up more debt and as long as they are chained to the euro, cannot solve their economic problems. The UK should now be expanding its horizons in trade to both Americas, Africa, the Middle and Far East where new markets are opening and leave the new Franco-German empire to the same fate as its similar predecessor, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, although hopefully this time the break-up is not going to involve an armed conflict. Name and address supplied

Let down by poor leadership

All the problems of the EU are direct results of duff policies and mismanagement by both its unelected and elected officers, just as the financial woes of the UK reflect politician-failure. Those in charge will try to escape blame, but their records speak for themselves. Time for a new start, developing more realistic approaches, CJ, via e-mail

Why cycling is road tax free

What should we make of the misleading claim that claim that “cyclists don’t pay road tax?” This issue is actually about human rights and saving people’s lives. With far too many drivers, it’s a claim which means prejudice, disrespect, intimidation, and injury for people riding bicycles. Isn’t it time the government made a dedicated effort to denounce it, especially now many people are pretty much forced to turn to two-wheel transport because of high fuel prices? Thanks, to no less a person than Sir Winston Churchill, ‘road tax’ was abolished in 1937. It was replaced by Vehicle Excise Duty and is now a tax on emissions as much as anything. People on bicycles – along with a fair few environmentally-conscious people in cars – are rightly exempt. Allan Ramsay, via e-mail

A word to the wise, children

I was saddened to read that a third of all children don’t even own a book, according to the National Literacy Trust. I would like to think that many of these young people fulfil their reading needs through libraries, but I have a horrible feeling that’s naive. L Cole, via e-mail