Nuclear reality is close to us
Thanks to a dedicated group of volunteer patrols around Britain (finding out how nuclear weapons are assembled and driven round the country in convoys), dedicated ‘Nuke Watch’ teams track where nuclear convoys carrying nuclear warheads are transported around six times a year, from Aldermaston in Berkshire to Coulport Scotland.
The MOD wants to keep the convoys secret. However heavy transport, accompanied by security and fire trucks, comprising 20 vehicles, raises their profile as they drive up and down our motorways.
A You Gov opinion poll found that two thirds of the population know nothing of convoys carrying nuclear warheads passing through their communities, with the risks posed from road accidents, releasing leaks of radioactive material.
The MOD states the convoys are safe, but emergency exercises run by the MoD practise disaster scenarios in which multiple crashes lead to fires, explosions and release of radioactive contamination.
Post-mortems of exercises reveal the MoD and the emergency services would have serious difficulties dealing with such disasters.
The MoD has confessed to eight real accidents involving nuclear convoys between 1960 and 20015.
In response to requests under freedom of information law, it has given outline details of a further 180 safety incidents that have plagued convoys between 2000 and 2016.
Convoys have crashed, broken down, got lost, brakes have failed, fuel has leaked, together with a range of mechanical failures.
Human error and computer software glitches have all been blamed.
According to the MoD’s internal safety watchdog: “The UK’s nuclear weapons programme is suffering a chronic shortage of skilled nuclear engineers, this could threaten safety under Government spending cutbacks.
“Demands for secrecy and security could therefore compromise safety.”
Lancashire could be in range from a convoy accident, on the M6, releasing radioactive material.
We need to ask MPs and councillors: “What emergency strategy is in place at hospitals to deal with radioactive material and burns?
If volunteers can track these convoys, what about terrorists?
Marjorie Nye, address supplied
Counting the cost of deficit
The only noise from Lancashire County Council of late is the sound of very expensive pigeons coming home to roost.
The ruling group at County has allegedly spent £6.6m on a study about saving money, on a deficit they have known about for four years.
Since Labour took over the reins at County Hall nearly four years ago, the size of its fiscal problems have ballooned, leaving the tax payers of Lancashire to come to the inescapable conclusion that the council is a set of incompetents, and the only thing that has saved us from massive council tax increases is the Government cap.
Apart from spending millions of pounds of public money they do not have, they have spent the last four years sat on their collective hands doing nothing but blame Government cuts. They fail to tailor their budget to the money available, something that the poorest in the land does every day, but seems to be beyond the ruling group at County.
It is time to say “goodbye” to this sorry bunch, and it looks like Coun Borrow, deputy leader and committee member for performance improvement (you really couldn’t make that one up) has had the same idea.
Coming from his direction are the sounds of a lifeboat being launched as he abandons County and paddles off into the gloom.
Gordon McCann via email
What was WW1 soldier’s tale?
A work colleague, Clive Paine, was on a trip to Flanders Fields, and by chance came across a soldier’s headstone that had my corresponding name. So he took a photo and sent it to me.
I forwarded the message to my father, Charles Crossley, who takes a keen interest in military history and genealogy, and he made contact with The Commonwealth War Graves Association.
They confirmed that the solider was from the Preston area. We thought it would be of local interest to publish this story and to see if any of his surviving relatives would come forward to take an interest. His parents were William and Jane Ellen of 9 Mete Street, New Hall Lane, Preston.
Stories like these do put into perspective the luxury of lifestyle we lead today, and when we are having a bad day we should always think of these young men and what they sacrificed.
It would be great to find out the soldier’s full name. Was he a James or John perhaps? What’s his story? Does he have any surviving family?
James Crossley via email
You knew when you voted for it
I don’t know why readers write in and say such-and-such should be done to save the ailing NHS.
The country voted in a Government that does not believe in the NHS. A Government that farms out services to people like Richard Branson and Virgin, even if those services have been criticised by the CQC.
Hunt and Burt do not want the NHS as a means of providing health care: they want us to have to pay for it by private contracts.
You are getting what you voted for and, if you believed the Tories when they said the NHS is safe with them, then you deserve what you’re getting for being so gullible.
T Maunder, address supplied
Mums on their mobile phones
Is it only me who worries about the development of young children when they are in forward-facing pushchairs seeing only legs – and their mothers are constantly talking on their phones? Surely they need the stimulus of seeing and talking to their carers?
Hilary Andrews via email