Readers’ letters - February 9

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‘Small firms targeted by frack protesters’

In recent days, some protestors opposed to shale gas exploration in Lancashire have deliberately targeted small local companies with direct action blockades just because they have chosen to supply goods and services to Cuadrilla at its Preston New Road site.

Activists know these small firms are unlikely to be able to withstand such disruption for any length of time because of the knock-on impacts it has to the remainder of their business.

Such actions, conducted largely by people with little or no connection to the area, are unjust and deeply unfair.

Small business owners that are simply trying to ply their trade should be allowed to get on with their lawful business without interruption and fear of intimidation.

Collectively, over 97 per cent of all Lancashire businesses are SMEs.

Between them, they are responsible for the majority of employment in the county–- which means most of us will know someone that either owns, runs or works in a small company.

Staff in these small businesses depend on them for their livelihoods, and rightly expect their employers to actively seek out new opportunities that support job and income security, including within the shale gas supply chain.

The acts of a small number of protestors cannot be allowed to jeopardise the trading prospects of Lancashire SMEs, or the wider economic opportunities, jobs and investment that shale gas could one day be responsible for.

The North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, and the Institute of Directors represent the interests of over 3,000 businesses and business leaders, employing over 100,000 people in the county.

Together, we call on Lancashire Police to take swift and proportionate action against activists that cross the line from peaceful protest to threats, intimidation and any direct action that prevents businesses in any sector from getting on with their lawful occupations.

Babs Murphy

North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce
Michael Damms
East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce
Lee Petts
IoD Lancashire

traffic

A £30 ‘toll road’

for the rich

I was venturing towards that infamous part of Fishergate (oh and by the way, you money grabbers at LCC, I was on foot!) when I spotted an expensive car approaching the No Go area (it was 11.40am) driven by a female.

Without so much as a blink of her eyes, she continued down the short stretch of Fishergate.

“Uh, oh, here comes a fine!” I thought to myself.

Then it hit me.

No, not the car, but the possible reason for her doing so.

If one could afford an expensive car like the one she was driving, why would you bother about going via the hugely inconvenient (time, mileage, delays, queues, etc.) alternative route through Avenham when, for the price of just £30, one could have one’s own, almost private, toll road to take the much shorter, er, short cut.

After all, £30 is probably just a fraction of one per cent of what she paid for the car.

So there you have it, LCC. Without knowing it, you have created a toll road for the rich but, for those caught by the all-seeing cameras and who can ill afford to pay, a fine (!) road for the rest of us, unless one is on a bus, taxi or bicycle.

Bet you didn’t see that one coming, did you? Darn, I hadn’t thought of that either until this incident.

Oh, and lady, mind how you go. You wouldn’t want your expensive car to come into contact with those bollards further down the road (no, this isn’t a euphemism for those working at County Hall!) which, by their very bland colour, seem to camouflage themselves with the road.

You never know, there could be someone at County Hall who may take a fiendish delight waiting to switch on the electromagnet fitted inside these bollards and thus attract some vehicle along with its unsuspecting motorist.

It’s either that or a UV light fitted to the bollards which attracts all the, er, fly-drivers!

Neil Swindlehurst

Walmer Bridge

transport

Ticketing system’s a ‘nasty farce’

Having read your recent article on Virgin train ticketing, I too wish to express my concerns (LP February 3).

Whether travelling with Virgin or not, I’m now regularly stopped by its officials and asked for my tickets.

Preston is meant to be an open rail station.

Whether I have a legal right to refuse to show them, I’m not sure.

I am fairly sure that the British Transport Police who operate there would probably back the staff.

From personal experience, the local Virgin staff have always been polite.

I wish I could say the same for some of their Euston counterparts.

Customers (yes, we are paying customers!) herded down corridors leading to trains, while every last ticket detail is checked.

It’s done to save staff the trouble of checking tickets once we’ve set off and they often have all the way to Warrington to check them if I’m travelling to Preston.

As your article tells us, Virgin’s ticketing system is nothing but a nasty farce.

Mark Menzies is right in taking the matter up.

The way that Mr Morrissey was treated was a disgrace.

How many others have been treated similarly and have been too embarrassed to complain?

Coun J W Browne

Preston

food

The more local the produce the better

Oh no, I can only buy three Iceberg lettuces at a time! How ever will I cope?

And broccoli rationed too, also thanks to bad weather in southern Europe.

What occurs to me, as it often does, is that we should go back to eating food in season.

How I remember looking forward to June and the

first English strawberries, and, later on, lovely sweet

home-grown tomatoes.

Now we have got used to having every vegetable and fruit we could possibly want on the shelves all year round.

A glance at the labels, particularly this time of year, will tell a sorry tale about the huge distances the items have travelled.

We have natural growing seasons and the resulting crops are at their very best and always taste better than those shipped in from far away.

In fact, the more local the produce the better, for both the farmer and the customer, so no, I’m not shedding tears over the current supply hiccup.

It’s winter for heaven’s sake.

Who wants tasteless lettuce, when there are plenty of local carrots, turnips, cabbage, sprouts etc etc?

Louise Bours

North West UKIP MEP

television

Let’s keep Still Open All Hours

Readers can now support a petition to the BBC to commission another series of the television programme, Still Open All Hours (pictured above left).

Go to www.petitions24.com, enter the section, recent petitions, view petition called Still Open All Hours.

F E Sharpe

via email