Reader’s letters - Wednesday December 17, 2014

Volunteers helping at a British food bank. Too much money is being spent overseas and not in the UK, says a writer. See letter, left

Volunteers helping at a British food bank. Too much money is being spent overseas and not in the UK, says a writer. See letter, left

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Charity begins at home

Charles Dickens popularised the idiom, ‘charity begins at home and justice begins next door’.

Its origins stem from the bible and state. Your responsibility is to first look after your family and friends before looking after others.

Sadly the UK government does not adopt this philosophy and proudly gives away over £10bn in foreign aid this year, whilst imposing ever more cuts in the living standards of all but the wealthiest of those at home.

Even worse the money that our government gives away to countries like Zimbabwe, and even wealthy countries like India, has to be borrowed, so it’s not as though the UK is some wealthy philanthropist with money to spare.

We are in fact the most indebted country in Europe yet we contribute the second largest amount in the world after the USA. Most other EU countries have drastically reduced foreign aid in order to help their citizens yet the UK has increased its foreign aid contribution and even passed it into law that 0.7 per cent of GDP will be given away every year.

It is clear our elected lords and masters in Westminster have no clue of the effect of their so-called austerity measures on the average taxpayer.

These predominantly wealthy career politicians who have never had a real job are cushioned from ever increasing costs and stagnant wages. They would rather give hundreds of millions to countries run by hostile governments such as Zimbabwe or Pakistan, even corrupt wealthy governments, than spend the money at home on the NHS or education or maybe even just borrow less.

They scoff at food banks, turn a blind eye to the millions struggling to make ends meet, whilst demanding that the four already subsidised bars in Westminster reduce their prices!

Paradoxically the only party campaigning to cut these extravagances and also the foreign aid bill is headed by a man who is always portrayed with a cigarette and a pint of beer and considered by many in the ‘establishment’ as a maverick.

I would say he knows what the people want!

Mike McCarthy, Ribbleton

Put quality of well-being first

Lord Howell, the father-in-law of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, reported, after a recent visit to fracking sites in the United States, that the thump of compressors and the whiff of diesel could be sensed two miles away from a fracked well.

His recommendation was that fracking would not go down well in Conservative constituencies in the south, but it would be good for the industrially ravaged north.

Actually, the sites that Cuadrilla wants to exploit in Lancashire are in Conservative constituencies, but the response of local MPs has been limp and ineffectual.

Surely the first duty of politicians should be to protect the quality of life and well-being of the people they serve.

Even in the United States, where the economic benefits have been considerable, the population is turning against the industry and increasing numbers of towns and cities are voting to ban fracking.

In England the economic benefits will be paltry in comparison to those in the USA, but the impact of noise, increased traffic, light and air pollution, the threat of earthquakes and subsidence, the storage and transport of toxic substances and the risk to the health of the population will be far greater as Lancashire is densely populated and intensively farmed in comparison to the wide open spaces in the USA, Canada and Australia where fracking takes place.

Lancashire County Council must put the quality of life of its electors first and refuse to accept the hydraulic shattering of our beloved county.

Mike Ellwood, Fulwood, Preston

Panto season is here again

The Pantomime season has been extended until May 2015.

Among those who will be auditioning are paler shades of Red Ed, (hope he remembers his lines), Devious Dame Dave, with his blue rinse Demon King partner, George.

Also Nick, who will play any part as long as he gets billing, and not forgetting Nigel, who wants to be in the show as long as it is in a different theatre.

Older people should be very afraid. Although they all need your applause (votes), they are all willing to cast you as ready victims, for whoever later plays the role of the Sherriff of Nottingham.

A chorus line made up of SNP, UDDP and the Greens will present a picture of disharmony that will make the former coalition look like a church choir.

The elderly in the audience, many who, through years of hard work, thrift and prudence, alien to many of the present generation, have achieved what are now enviously described as wealthy lifestyles.

They will be picked off individually, by stealthy welfare reductions and turning a younger generation against them.

All done to keep this pantomime tradition on the road.

Meanwhile, the Capitalist Finance Corps, backers of the last failed production (Golden Follies) have been allowed to escape their bankruptcy, free to continue with their Whitehall Farces.

Pensioner concessionary tickets to the show will soon be a thing of the past.

Denis Lee, Ashton

No crystal ball at hospital’s A&E

Why has the NHS been set targets, and by our masters in Parliament? A&Es have no crystal ball, knowing who is coming in next.

This November my husband and I took a neighbour, 86, into Royal Preston, about 10.10pm. It was not too busy, and we were attended to quickly by dedicated staff, but whilst we were waiting, people were coming in from pubs and clubs. Most the worse for drink, but they could just as well have come off coaches or trains after accidents. The hospital is only half a mile from the M55.

As for our masters in the House? The number of sitting days 2013/2014 – 149; average attendance 497. It’s not do what I do, it’s do as you are told! And how many nurses are we short of? Thousands, enough said.

Bernadette Hughes, Bamber Bridge