The perils of Tory short-term thinking

THE item on 'Old King Coal' and keeping the nation warm during the recent cold weather illustrates the short-term thinking and incompetence of the last Tory government energy policy.

The closure of the Great Northern Coalfield (just to spite the miners) was a monumental error of judgment by the Thatcher era.

We have thrown away 100 years of natural fuel, privatised our energy industry, which is now virtually all foreign-owned (with its outrageous charges).

We have to import more than half our coal for our power stations and, to make matters worse, Thatcher and Major between them built dozens of gas-fueled power stations to use up our valuable North Sea Gas. What madness.

I recall those days, British beef was banned in Europe and the USA, we dare not eat eggs, BSE was rampant and the Scottish salmon industry in disarray.

Farm animal welfare and food regulations were lax and it took the Labour government years to tighten up on the then regulations, including foot-and-mouth control.

Labour introduced the Food Standard Agency (opposed by the Tories) and the little lion reappeared on eggs.

The final, desperate act of madness in the last months of this discredited government was the privatisation of British Rail, which resulted in a series of appalling accidents under Railtrack, and put millions of pounds of taxpayers' money into shareholders' dividends at the cost of maintenance and track renewals.

No wonder the new Labour government had to end this "cowboy" outfit.

As we struggle to pay for our heating and train fares, the creators of this shambles live very well. Most are old Etonians, millionaires, company directors etc and have more than one house.

In the Tory period apprenticeships ended, civil engineering training at universities declined by 40 per cent and lawyers increased by 400 per cent.

G D Reed, Garforth

Energy crisis

AS we come to record the coldest winter on record – 2009 was not much better – snow storms ravage the east coast of America, there is snow in the Carolinas and even Alabama, we must draw a line under our energy policy and start again.

We know the world was warmer in the Minoan, Roman and Medieval periods. We also know that carbon dioxide historically follows warm periods and that carbon dioxide is at a significant low on average over the last 300,000 million years. Even the IPCC has admitted there has been no global warming since 1995.

We have seen the scandal of falsified statistics at the University of East Anglia and in New Zealand (Kiwigate, largely unreported in Europe).

We also know of the 'mini ice-age' in the early 19th century which gives all statistics limited to the last 150 years an unreliable slant. We also know there is not a 'scientific consensus' on man-made global warming, the Manhattan Declaration and the group letter by German scientists to Angela Merkel.

Public service broadcasting has relentlessly pursued their man-made warming propaganda with the assistance of an uninformed press following blindly the main party line and big business interests.

For those of us with eyes to see, we also know that for the last month those absurd windmills have not been turning.

We should now demand a freeze on current energy policy, all subsidies, and a detailed response from the coalition government on the recent efficiency of so-called sustainable energy.

We stand on the abyss of a major energy disaster, thousands of old people will die of hypothermia in the near future and industry will find energy too expensive to remain in the UK.

We must return energy policy from the failed EU and put it in the hands of an independent commission in the UK before it is too late.

Godfrey Bloom, UKIP MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, Environment Committee in the EU Parliament

Give us a vote

Today (January 5) was the best day since before Christmas. Why? Because the YEP letters page returned to normal.

When Cameron was elected, some of his first words were we must all be in this together. Now the YEP tells me our council has been informed to cut back on residential homes, sports centres and to cut back on their help to transport. All these will affect the people who Cameron said should not be affected – the elderly, children, the poor, which the first letter today hits on the head (N Bywater).

The second letter, (T Watson, Adel), calls for Cameron to take on the EU and its Human Rights Act and prove to us, once and for all, that what he said was true. He would listen to the voters and we are all in this together.

The third letter, (R Miller, Leeds), shows the voters you are a fair-thinking Prime Minister and you will give us a referendum on the one thing every voter talks about, reads about and wants more than anything – a decision on our membership of the European Union, our blind following of their rules.

The mice are slowly nibbling at the outside as it proves with the start of bailing-out some of the smaller countries in the euro. The rats are filling their pockets from the inside. When the collapse comes we don't want to be involved or we will go under with them. Referendum now!

L E Slack, Lingfield View, Leeds

Church neglect

I AM moved to comment re All Saints Church of Sherburn-in-Elmet short of funds (YEP, January 2).

What is happening with funds coined in from baptisms, weddings, funerals etc? I understand that parish churches are no longer allowed to retain cash earned on their own patch, it is sent to a finance collective centre and the cash dispensed elsewhere, since approximately the 1970s.

It is a fact that gross neglect of church buildings has taken place since the Second World War.

Our own parish church of much historic interest was refused a grant from English Heritage and the parish priest became aghast that efforts to the maintanance went ignored, this when the belfry was in a dangerous state.

Many parishioners withdrew financial support on learning that their cash was being sent to the Third World. Personally, I think aid for the Third World has gone beyond the limit.

M Meadows, Castleford

Fond memories

IN reply to L E Slack's letter asking if anyone remembers the Slacks of the Leeds Terrace, North Street and Camp Road areas of Leeds around 1947.

I was 13 or 14 at that time, living just off Camp Road in Sedan Place, a time when children walked to school (no-one had a car) and you could leave your door unlocked. Where you knew the name of everyone in your street and if you knew of anyone that had a toilet in their house you classed them as being rich.

I can remember an Ellis Slack, who went to Lovell Road School and was in the class of Mr Gibson with myself. This teacher's favourite saying was "If you don't behave I will cane thee" – and he certainly did.

A few names I can remember in that class were Desmond Dyson, Tommy Thompson, Maurice Cutler, Harold Mankoff, Monty Fogal, Barry Cohen and Stanley Wineberg.

Were we your classmates, Mr Slack?

Malcolm Shedlow, Alderton Rise, Leeds

Group windfall

PLEASE may I use your letters page to thank the local community of Woodlesford who generously gave donations to our Christmas lights display after your featured on them front page of your publication.

I was asked by many of my neighbours to collect donations, so this year I did and was astounded to collect 172.36.

The donations are to be gived to our local playgroup, The Owls and Pussycats, who have daily sessions in the Woodlesford Methodist church Hall. This money was donated in addition to the 156.18 raised on Halloween.

It is wonderful that the villagers are willing to donate so much money given difficult financial times for everyone at the moment. I am lucky to live in such a kind place.

Louise Page-Bulloch, Woodlesford

Just deserts

NOT before time we learn that the first of our expense-manipulating MPs has been given his comeuppance. It is to be hoped that the rest of them are also dealt with, and that the dispensing of justice has nothing to do with political affiliation or position in business or society.

On another subject which perhaps is becoming tedious to any but the motorist, regular contributor Mr D Birch aired his views (YEP, January 7) on the subject of car insurance as if he was genuinely surprised at the way insurance companies are ripping off drivers, knowing that cover is obligatory.

Having complained bitterly in this column many times on the same theme, it is surprising that many more complaints are not lodged against the actions of these untouchable echelons of the insurance business, whose continual premium increases, if not actually unlawful, definitely breach any concept of fair trading, retail price maintenance, and sometimes nearly cross the line on trade descriptions.

Incidentally, anyone trying to make contact with any of these salubriously-named offices will find it almost impossible to do so, much less obtain a fair hearing. Having tried many times, I should know.

Contact with the Insurance Ombudsman is another no-go area, which is not surprising considering that the activities of such is provided by their own kind. Meanwhile we suffer.

E A Lundy, Leeds

Overdue honour for Brian

"AT last and about time too," as many have probably both thought and said, but most importantly, "well done and well deserved". I refer to former Wakefield councillor and Suzy Fund chairman Brian Hazell, now Brian Hazell MBE, at last being recognised in the honours list.

My friendship with Brian began in 1994 when a voice on the telephone offered to help me with my first Bosnian Aid Mission. I would be privileged to enjoy his and the Suzy Fund's support for a further three missions, as would certain of my friends involved in similar work.

Brian has also been a great help in my other projects as adviser and supporter and, even though as a councillor we were on separate sides during the firefighters' dispute of 1999, we still remained friends, so much so that I have been able to return the favour by supporting the Suzy Fund in return.

It is surprising how civil and public servants who have done nothing more than progress in their chosen career, often when their organisation has performed badly, yet have been well paid for what they have done and walked off with or can expect a good pension, politicians on their party being elected out of office or retiring, irrespective of the hash they may have left the country in and actors who portray heroes, receive knighthoods or similar, whilst many real heroes pass by unnoticed.

At long last Brian has been noticed and, once again, well done.

Trevor Wainwright, Castleford

VAT was higher in the Seventies

ONE thing about our television friends is how they manage to make a sensation out of virtually nothing. The increase in VAT has been announced repeatedly, almost suggesting that the end of the world is nigh. We are told by the BBC that 20 per cent VAT is the highest ever recorded. This is not true. On April 24, 1975 in the pages of that infallible source, the Pudsey Times, Chaplins Grass Machinery people advertise their motor mowers and save 17 per cent because VAT was to increase to 25 per cent. Eclipse, sellers of numerous electrical appliances from fridges to freezers to TVs to vacs, also advertise the fact that if you wanted to avoid the new 25 per cent you must strike now.

April 24, 1975. VAT at 25 per cent. Did the world end? No. Did the world fall of a cliff? No. Did starvation stalk? No. Did we survive? Of course we did.

We survived Dunkirk, we survived the war, we survive. Check your facts BBC. VAT is not the end of the world.

Brian Fleming, Adel

YEP Letters: April 20