Readers’ letters - November 24

UK-wide taskforce launched today by the taxman
UK-wide taskforce launched today by the taxman
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Guarantee decent incomes

The spending review needs to focus on a bigger economy, not a smaller state.

It’s a chance to set out a clear vision, backed by a proper investment plan, to make the UK a global leader with the best infrastructure and the best jobs.

It’s depressing to see how far behind other countries we are for high-skilled jobs, genuinely affordable homes for all, fast and cheap trains and universal childcare. If they can do better, so can we. But we have to invest like they do.

The Chancellor’s intention is to amend proposals for tax credit cuts. The TUC warns that the only acceptable option is to scrap the cuts altogether.

‘Transitional protection’ would only help people who get tax credits now, and would do nothing for those entering low-paid jobs after April.

Shifting the cuts to housing benefit instead would not spare working families as the number of working households that get housing benefit has doubled to over a million since 2009.

These working households rely on this support to pay soaring rents.

The government’s plans to cut tax credits show just how wrong their thinking is. We need to reward work, and that means guaranteeing working families decent incomes through better jobs and vital in-work benefits.

Derek Barton, Preston & South Ribble Trades Council

Urging all our MPs to vote ‘no’

Any day now, MPs will vote on the Government’s new plans to allow fracking through the protected areas that surround and feed water into drinking water aquifers.

This is despite the evidence from the Government’s own draft report, which concluded that even an indirect exposure to water contaminated by fracking poses risks to human health.

Given the risks to people and the environment, we should follow in the footsteps of Wales and Scotland and halt all fracking plans. But at an absolute minimum, MPs should vote against the Government’s proposals to allow fracking in the areas that protect our drinking water.

In the USA, an Environmental Protection Agency panel of independent scientific advisers has challenged core conclusions of a major study the agency issued in June that minimised the potential risks to drinking water from hydraulic fracturing. The proof is there, water sources have been contaminated.

The recent water contamination by an animal in our area has been rectified but contamination caused by fracking is irreversible.

We urge all Lancashire MPs to vote “no”.

Anne Fielding on behalf of RAFF (Residents Action on Fylde Fracking)

What are we missing?

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Minister, claims that the new contracts for junior doctors will give them a pay increase of nine per cent and also reduce their hours of work.

Why then would such a body of responsible people, noted for their dedication to their profession, decide overwhelmingly to take strike action against his proposals? More importantly, if he is convinced it is such a good deal, why does he not agree to take it for independent assessment?

Is there a hidden element he is not telling us about?

Denis Lee, Ashton

Long time to leave car park

I write to advise you not to park on St George’s Car Park in Preston. It took me one hour and 25 minutes just to leave the car park at 3.25pm on Friday, November 20. I think we all have better things to do with our time, particularly at this time of year.

Amanda Edwards via email

Wrong to close power stations

Closing UK’s coal-fired power stations within a decade will light up the environmentally-correct brigade with joy but that doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do.

I understand the leaning for new gas-fired and nuclear replacements but, until they are functioning, we should not be arranging to close down existing stations, which provide a quarter of the UK’s electricity.

It’s all very well the National Grid claiming that we don’t need to worry about the lights going out, but I do worry about it.

And I also worry about the tens of thousands living in fuel poverty, particularly pensioners.

Winter has arrived now and, for many elderly folk, that is literally a chilling thought, having to choose between eating or heating. And a major reason is the high cost of energy because of green levies on our bills resulting from the impossible carbon emission targets demanded by the EU.

This country’s energy needs have been badly neglected and a comprehensive and long-term solution is needed. One that will assure supplies and cheap prices, not one cobbled together aimed at appeasing the EU. Energy minister Amber Rudd is proposing the coal-fired station closures under energy security, but it doesn’t seem secure if she means more dependence on politically unstable sources like Russia.

Meanwhile Germany is currently building or refurbishing a couple of dozen coal-fired plants. Why is the UK planning to close ours when other EU countries are building them and Poland is refusing to give up its coal capacity?

Paul Nuttall, UKIP North West MEP and deputy party leader

Lord Sugar and the meercats

One part of my Post I always enjoy is the “They said” section.

I was amused to read that Shirley Bassey doesn’t find Daniel Craig sexy (LEP November 20).

“He reminds me of one of my husbands,” says Shirl. Well, love, you married him, or more sadly, he married you.

Imagine listening every morning to her belting out some unfortunate ballad in the shower. It would ruin my branflakes!

Even better, Lord Sugar tells us that the meerkats are driving him mad! Surely that can’t be allowed to carry on. They are not going away anytime soon your exalted Lordship, so, when they appear, simply switch off.

It works for me whenever your sour clock appears on my TV.

Allan Fazackerley via email