Letters – week 52

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The EU-topia


It’s difficult to understand the logic and sense of those who wish to stay in the European Union (not to be confused with a Common Market), especially when France is in flames, Italy with its rising debt of more than 130 per cent of GDP, not to mention long suffering Greece and Spain where the unemployment is at a scandalous level – then, of course, there is ‘borderless’ Germany – where next will the riots be with cars burning on the streets and tanks entering cities to ensure the wishes of the ruling elite?

I am reminded of the inscription on the tomb of Sir Christopher Wren in St Paul’s Cathedral which states, ‘Reader, if you seek his monument look around you.’ Indeed, how apt for the UK in the 21st century, for after 40 years and counting would you honestly describe our country as a land of milk and honey?

Methinks not. UK infrastructure is a disgrace and I am thankful that I do not have to rely on the railways, although I am becoming quite good at dodging pot holes in our badly maintained roads. The NHS is collapsing with doctors’ surgeries and hospitals closing, coupled with the shameful treatment of the elderly and the closure of many nursing homes. Drug and knife crime are on the increase with hardly a ‘bobby’ to be seen on our streets. Of course, the cost of the smart meter will go on a customer’s bill and the meter will lend itself to some very imaginative billing – all very good for the foreign-owned power companies. Bless the EU.

One would think the world is a much safer place with our much reduced and under-funded armed forces. Hopefully the reduction is not because a European Army is on the books, with the potential of, say, British and German troops helping the French quell any future riots on the streets of Paris. Perish the thought of German or French troops doing likewise in the UK.

Yep, welcome to the 21st century EU-topia club where everyone’s a winner – and as The Eagles sang, ‘You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.’

Dave Haskell, Ceredigion

Homeless on cold nights


Christmas should be a time of joy, but for thousands of homeless people across the country it will be anything but. While most of the country will be celebrating and enjoying a family meal, those who are homeless will face a struggle just to stay safe and escape the cold.

That’s why – outside of our year-round services – Crisis runs special Christmas centres that offer warmth, food, companionship, and access to vital services. Guests can see a doctor or dentist, have a haircut, and get clothes or bags repaired.

But we don’t stop there. At our Christmas centres, we introduce people to our year-round training, education and support with housing, employment and health. This long-term support helps people to rebuild their lives and leave homelessness behind for good.

Crisis at Christmas is a huge volunteer effort, and last year more than 4,000 people came through the doors of 15 our centres across Britain. For many, Crisis at Christmas offers a chance to relax, regain confidence and plan for the future in a supportive environment, away from the immediate hardships of homelessness.

We’re asking members of the public who want to help to support our work this Christmas and year-round – so we can be there for everyone who needs us and give people in the most vulnerable circumstances support to leave homelessness behind for good.

To find out more or donate to Crisis for Christmas visit crisis.org.uk

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis

More and better homes


The local drainage issues continue to persist in Tarbert, as do justifiable demands to have both Scottish Water and our local council sort this matter out properly.

As traffic to and from our islands continues to grow, the commerce it generates in Tarbert will add to the demands on local businesses.

Functioning drainage is the bare minimum of what we expect to have in a modern industrialised nation yet (as ever) local complaints seem to go unheard by the urban-centric Scottish Water management. Frankly this is unacceptable and I will once again contact Scottish Water and press for a speedy resolution that ensures minimum disruption to local businesses.

Housing needs in Tarbert are mentioned to myself time and time again, particularly among my younger constituents. While the planned handful of housing association new builds are welcome, they should be considered the beginning of new development not the end. As well as the need for new houses the poor condition of existing social housing cannot be ignored any longer.

Sadly mould problems as a result of damp walls and unfixed roofs, doors and windows seem to be the rule rather than the exception. This is not just a problem in Tarbert, but it’s rampant throughout our social housing stock in every corner of my council ward. Obviously there are huge health risks to living in housing, with severe mould issues particularly for the very young and the elderly.

As a social housing tenant myself I know all to well the the difficulties in getting even basic repairs done and I strongly feel the attitude of housing association management will need to change in dealing with complaints from their tenants. Otherwise it’s very likely social housing problems and challenges will grow.

My constituents are rightfully asking for action and not excuses, and I’m more than happy to keep pressing for instant action not delays.

Councillor Alastair Redman