Readers' letters - May 29
Wasting cash while we suffer austerity
Listening to the radio, I was stunned to hear that the Department for International Development was possibly reconsidering the £100m aid that it gives annually to Myanmar, feeling uncomfortable that it could be misused.
Did I hear rightly?
£100m of our hard earned money.
It appears that DfID has over £13bn of taxpayer funds to distribute each year to so-called needy causes, much of it going to wealthy countries.
However, I do have to question the logic of this Government squandering our money while we are all still suffering crippling austerity measures.
Our cities are full of homeless people. Our NHS is in crisis. There’s a chronic shortage of affordable housing. Our police force is so short-handed and underfunded, it has made the UK a criminals’ paradise.
Our rail transport structure is laughable, and arguably our roads are more suitable to testing Land Rovers on – so surely the surplus money in the Treasury’s coffers should be spent on getting this country in a fit state before worrying about other countries and their problems?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not adverse to charity or good causes and I contribute to many.
However, it seems to me that this Government is more interested in impressing other nations by playing the great benefactor than looking after its own citizens.
Squandering money on questionable projects such as HS2 (pictured) and HS3, costing trillions but with little benefit to the average working man, is one example, and there are thousands more that escape notice.
Nevertheless, shouldn’t we be looking to make our country work first, and when it is working properly, then that will be the time we can afford to be generous.
Frankly, I consider this Government is just not fit for purpose, but the sad thing is there isn’t a viable opposition – Labour and the Lib Dems being a lost cause.
I am eager to know if it’s just me or if anyone else has become disgusted with what appears to be happening to the centre of Preston?
Literally millions of pounds have been spent on refurbishing the city centre only for it to become the beggar and alcoholic capital of the North West.
One visit revealed the real extent of the problem. Accompanied by my niece, I counted 29 beggars and alcoholics between the top of Church Street and the Fishergate centre. Forgive me if I am mistaken but I thought begging and street drinking are actually against the law?
In any case, the effects of all this are to make Preston an eyesore and an embarrassment. And for all those who would argue, “it’s not their fault”, I would point out that genuine homeless people would struggle to buy alcohol and cigarettes. These people don’t seem to have a problem.
I would also draw attention to the additional effects of this situation – the serious issues with rubbish and waste, not to mention the appalling smell of urine in most of the side streets that lead from Fishergate. This highlights a serious health risk, aside from being unpleasant. Also, many of these people are so drunk or otherwise afflicted that they think nothing of shouting abuse at passers- by, something I witnessed several times.
On one occasion, an old gentleman at a bus stop was being abused by a drunken woman for doing nothing more than looking in her direction.
The sad truth of the matter is that Preston city centre is rapidly turning into a no- go area for decent people but a paradise for beggars, alcoholics and anti-social behaviour. It needs a concerted effort by the local authorities and police to prevent the situation from deteriorating further. People will complain about a lack of funds or time.
However, the realistic truth is simple. No one will want to come to Preston to visit or shop or do anything unless this matter is addressed, so all the investment will have been in vain.
Swift action needed
After a delay due to the weather, our summer visitors, the swifts, are gracing our skies again...but so few of them! They’ve flown thousands of miles north to return to their nest sites in our buildings.
Swifts are the all-brown ones with the biggest wingspan and short tail – not to be confused with swallows (with the long v-shaped tail and red throat), or the more squat martins.
The main difference is that swifts don’t build nests.
They just zip into a small hole high up in a building – often in the eaves.
The trouble is that our buildings are getting so hole-free these days that swifts are losing their homes, and hence their numbers are dropping steeply.
It’s possible to put up special nestboxes (best near to existing sites) to help these marvellous birds. To report sightings, please see www.swiftconservation.org.
Hand trains back to public
Why do we put train services out to private companies? We know the private companies put profit before service and, in any case, as soon as they cannot make money, they hand the whole mess back to public ownership for the taxpayer to pick up the tab. Why not just keep them as public utilities to save money?
Peter Hyde via email