Reader’s letters - Monday March 02, 2015

What happened to crackdown on pipe smoking, asks one reader
What happened to crackdown on pipe smoking, asks one reader
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What happened to purge?

In the Evening Post of November 15 2012, Andy Howard, environmental health manager of Preston Council said: “Illegal shisha cafes are not welcome in Preston – we try to tackle them as soon as we become aware of them ....if you don’t want to comply we are going to come down on you like a tonne of bricks ... if anybody wants to run illegal shisha cafes in Preston you won’t be doing it for that long.”

Over two years later it is worse now than it was then. I think Mr Howard talks a lot but doesn’t do much. About a year ago I visited three shisha cafes and I observed smoking in all three premises in an enclosed environment. I reported this to the council. Much was said about the actions they would take. Nothing done.

This year January 2015 I revisited the previous three plus another one where again I found smoking in all four in an enclosed environment. If I am capable of doing this, what is stopping the council or the police? Are they scared or is it political correctness?

If a pub allowed smoking in an enclosed environment they would be fined/shut down very quickly. Why the double standards? I know one shisha cafe has been fined but I am informed that given the profit these cafes make these relative small fines do not concern them.

I recently phone Lancashire Police about this and they said smoking shisha in an enclosed environment is legal. If this is so why is the council trying so unsuccessfully over such a long period to stop it and fined one. The Internet gives the opposite opinion that smoking shisha is worse for health than cigarette smoking.

I informed the council about my recent visits to these shisha cafes and they informed me they will be holding a team meeting (they do love their meetings, it makes them feel important) to decide on their response. If Andy Howard, environmental chief, says two years ago that he is going to come down on illegal shisha cafes like a ton of bricks and that they won’t be doing it for too long, I wonder how heavy a ton of bricks is in Mr Howard’s world and about his concept of time.

Hortense Feuchtwanger, Ashton

Pension shake-up not worth it

There is a fight between the two main parties on should richer pensioners lose some of their free benefits, one side says no, they will guarantee these universal benefits to all pensioners whilst the Labour Party says they will scrap the Winter Fuel allowance for pensioners who’s pension is over £45,000 per year. The cost to administer this for just five per cent of pensioners will be greater that the savings, so why do they want to do it.

Is it the policy of unfair taxes again, those that work the hardest, made to pay the most, whilst everyone enjoys the same services. A pensioner with a pension of £45,000 will pay over £7,500 in income tax each year, not to mention how much tax they will have paid in order to earn a £45,000 pension, and they want to quibble about £200.

This is once again, playing politics with ill thought out announcements, with one party scraping the barrel.

Mike Denny, via e-mail

Paying price of banking bonus

Another bonus payout by RBS, this time only £421m, making a total of £3bn since 2010 and this bank was “loaned” £45bn to save it going bust!

I wonder what they owe. And that money came from taxpayers and who are they? Not the rich of our country but the people who won’t get a raise again this year, the same as usual the working men and women of our country who our great leader says of us “we are all in this together, no we are not!

Bernadette Hughes, Clayton-le-Woods

Low pay and benefits cycle

Two recent letters draw attention to the attitude taken by South Ribble Conservatives.

The first justified the low wages paid to many local employees by claiming that raising their wages would result in higher unemployment; thus demonstrating local Conservatives care more about being able to brag about low employment figures than showing any concern for the effect this has on low paid workers and their families.

The writer then goes on to suggest that since low paid workers can claim benefits anyway they would be no better off if they had higher wages.

This is an insensitive comment at a time when the Conservative government continues to vilify benefit claimants.

Few people want the indignity of having to claim benefits and would not need to if a fair day’s work was rewarded with a fair day’s pay.

Indeed employers who pay their staff too little are, in effect, themselves benefiting from taxpayers who subsidise the low wages of their staff by paying their employees top-up state benefits such as tax credits.

There are, however, benefits to employers who pay a decent wage. The international auditors KPMG found that when they introduced the living wage both absenteeism and training costs for staff reduced and staff retention and motivation increased; an all round win-win situation.

Labour has said they would give tax breaks to small and medium employers who adopt the living wage; taxpayers foot the bill for a living wage anyway and Labour would pass part of the welfare savings of a living wage onto employers in smaller local firms.

Thus any suggestion that raising pay would lead to job losses is just a Tory excuse to stand by while many people in South Ribble are left behind by their economic policy of putting the privileged few first.

The second letter demonstrates how our local Conservatives are never shy to claim credit for the efforts of others. The fact that South Ribble has a high rate of waste recycling is due to conscientious residents, not local Tories or have they been rifling through our bins in the early hours?

Furthermore it is all of us hard working rate and tax payers who are footing the £1m bill for the waste wagons and for other improvements in the borough. I just wanted to make that clear.

Theresa R Yates, via e-mail