Readers’ letters - January 18

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I will continue to oppose fracking

Many people, from all sections of our society, are rightly concerned about the potential effects that fracking will have on communities’ health and environments across the county and the country.

The arguments have been won on the evidence of the negative impacts that fracking brings.

The arguments have been won that the regulatory system in this country is nothing but a self-regulatory system.

The propaganda machine has kicked in big time this last week, well prepared for the works starting at Preston New Road, to try to undermine the fact that this industry is being forced on a community that has the backing and support of the democratic system that, after spending many months considering all of the evidence, decided to refuse this application.

The only address left, for people who know so much about this industry that they just can’t walk away from what’s happening, is to show as much visible opposition as possible.

Yes, of course, there will be objectors who turn up from outside of Lancashire and who want to be part of the movement for genuine reasons understanding, as they do, that fracking is planned for huge areas across the country and in a democracy they are free to do this.

Some have their own animated ways of objecting but the majority of the opposition are peaceful, reasonable people who are just afraid.

Also, let’s face the facts here, we are talking about the oil and gas industry who will have infiltrators within the anti-fracking movement whose job it is to disrupt and divide and to try to give peaceful ordinary, decent people a bad reputation.

Just 19 per cent of people back exploration for shale gas in the latest edition of the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s long running public attitudes tracker, down from a high of 29 per cent two years ago. With just 19 per cent of people backing fracking, public support for renewables has surged to 81 per cent as the Government poll shows. We don’t need or want shale gas.

I will continue to oppose this industry as I have no other option knowing what I know.

Coun Gail Hodson

West Lancashire Council

NHS

Slash, trash and privatise

The current crisis in the NHS is not, as Theresa May would like us to believe, the fault of

GPs.

It is due to ideologically driven cuts by an uncaring and nasty Government. The NHS, our greatest social achievement, is on the brink of annihilation.

The reasons for this are obvious. Local authority funding for social care, which was cut by almost one-third over the last Parliament, has resulted in more pressure on the NHS, leading to a bed crisis. Coupled with this, is the situation in Mental Health provision which is resulting in people in crisis using A&E because of the dire situation in community services.

Figures obtained from 43 of England’s 56 NHS mental health trusts show that total funding for mental health services dropped in cash terms from £6.7bn in 2010-11 to £6.6bn in 2014-15.

The figures amount, in real terms, a reduction of 8.25 per cent, or almost £600m, once inflation has been accounted for.

The national picture shows that community mental health teams have been cut by five per cent whilst referrals have increased by 20 per cent.

So Theresa May’s recent announcement of an extra £15m for community mental health services goes nowhere near resolving the problem.

So the situation in the NHS is bleak. It is however about to get much worse.

On December 23, the Government announced its intention to go ahead with the NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs).

These plans, unless they are opposed, will be the final nail in the coffin of our NHS.

In total, there are 44 regional STP “footprints”, which between them must cut £22bn from the NHS budget by 2020. A recent survey of NHS Commissioners found that 52 per cent plan to close or downgrade a community hospital, 46 per cent plan to reduce the number of hospital beds, 31 per cent plan to close or downgrade A&E departments and 23 per cent plan to end provision for children and young people in one or more hospitals.

Figures also suggest that 20 per cent of maternity and children’s hospitals could be cut and plans are being developed which will see GPs and health services relocated to hubs, meaning more travel for all.

It is also estimated that 25 per cent of community pharmacies will close. But the most worrying aspect is that more care will be classified as “social care”– not free NHS care!

The new NHS structures created by STP will, as the Government intends, leave massive chunks of the service vulnerable to takeover by private health care corporations.

So when you hear Jeremy Hunt mention STP, interpret this as code for Slash, Trash and Privatise.

To find out more and what you can do visit www.keepournhspublic.com

Sign the petition for a properly funded NHS to scrap the proposed STP:

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/16594

Mick Mulcahy

Lancashire People’s Assembly Against Austerity

shale gas

We must test for killer gas

Fracking: Why is there to be radon monitoring in Yorkshire but not in Lancashire?

Compared to Yorkshire, the residents at Little Plumpton, Fylde, have been informed that there are no plans to monitor for the radioactive gas radon which may be released by the fracking process. This is an egregious and inexcusable omission.

Any geological differences between Yorkshire and Lancashire are irrelevant for radon monitoring at Little Plumpton. A recent 2015 Pennsylvania study concluded that domestic indoor radon concentrations were associated with fracking well development.

An important 2001 review concluded that domestic radon is probably responsible for about 2,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United Kingdom, or around six per cent of the total, making it the second biggest cause after smoking.

It is crucial to determine whether radon levels increase with fracking, regardless of baseline. Radon monitoring at Little Plumpton may clarify whether there is any radon release caused by the drilling process, as opposed to fracking itself.

How can the requirement for fracking of the UK Environment Agency ‘to assess the radiological impact with regard to public dose constraints,’ be carried out without radon monitoring at Little Plumpton?

Dr Francis Rugman

Wrea Green

community

Preston – such a welcoming city

I’m originally from Preston but I moved over 10 years ago. I come to Preston often and yesterday, in the city centre, different people stopped to have a chat with me and my children – it was a lovely feeling. Preston must have so many nice people around, in comparison to where I live now, where I have found racism, despite both places being multicultural. So to whoever deserves the credit within this city, well done, or well done to ALL of Preston and all those who make the effort and make a good difference!

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