Thumbs down given to this idiotic idea

Once again Councillor Sir Jeremy Beecham sublimely attempts to gather support for the taxpayer to support party political funding ("What did Lib Dems contribute to growth?", Voice of the North, December 18).

Once again Councillor Sir Jeremy Beecham sublimely attempts to gather support for the taxpayer to support party political funding ("What did Lib Dems contribute to growth?", Voice of the North, December 18).

He must be joking.

On November 16, an article by Zoe Hughes stated Sir Hayden Philips was urging Journal readers to speak out on the subject of whether taxpayers should give more money to political parties. Everyone I have spoken to gives a thumbs down to this idiotic idea.

Members of Parliament are supposed to be, by the nature of their job, reasonably intelligent.

So can someone please explain why they experience major difficulties in matching their income and expenditure? That's why there needs to be the "limit on expenditure" referred to by Sir Jeremy in an earlier letter ("There needs to be limit on expenditure", Voice of the North, August 4). It is not the general public's fault that they are too stupid to spend only what they can afford.

But Sir Jeremy goes even further. A national newspaper on August 18 reported that he had indicated he wanted the taxpayer (again) to foot the bill for security for Tony Blair and other Cabinet ministers to attend political functions. We, the commoners, are barred from attending these "private parties", but going off the past Labour records, even being a loyal party member does not stop one from being ejected.

Sir Jeremy, if you want to pay homage to your leader, you pay for the privilege.

With all this and MPs talking about a 60% pay rise, it just proves that many of them have not just got their snouts in the trough but are wallowing in it.

DM BOON, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland

Lib Dems have plan to save post offices

IT is all very well for Charles Hendry, the Tory spokesman on post offices, to decry the continued closure of post offices.

There are few who would disagree with that point of view, as particularly rural post offices are the centre of any community.

It is easy to bemoan anything, but solutions are what are needed in a crisis such as this, not words of sympathy. However, typical for a Tory, he offers no solution to the closure crisis. Yes, under a Labour Government, closures have accelerated with the loss of 4,000 offices during the past decade, but Mr Hendry should remember that it was the Tories who began the process, closing more than 3,000 post offices during their term in government.

The Liberal Democrats have long been extremely concerned at the effect of these closures on local businesses and communities, and together with postal workers presented the largest ever petition to Downing Street, signed by more than four million people, calling on the Government to stop the unnecessary post office closure programme, and instead free the business from restrictive regulation, invest in the future of the network and stop removing government business to safeguard our post offices.

It is essential that the Government reinstate the post office card account so pensioners and those on benefits can claim their money from local post offices, rather than travelling to banking institutions. Considering the continued reduction in public transport, this can be an expensive full day's outing for many rural pensioners.

Liberal Democrats have a fully costed plan to save post offices from closure. We would keep Post Office Ltd in the public sector but split it away from the Royal Mail. We would then raise £2bn from the sale of a minority of shares in Royal Mail and invest this money in the post office network.

This would mean new equipment and new services. We would free the Post Office from Royal Mail controls that prevent branches doing business for other parcel delivery companies. The investment will also enable branches to be the shop front for local government.

We will also ensure that staff working for Royal Mail will be given a quarter of the shares in the company, allowing them to share in the success of the company and to be partners in it, similar to the way staff are partners in the John Lewis Partnership.

PETER CHARLETON, Liberal Democrat, North Ponteland Division, Northumberland County Council

The National Grid will soon fail to meet need

THE National Grid will soon fail to supply the British people with all of the power we need.

Few people realise just how precarious the supply of power upon which our society depends will become even before 2014, by which time we will have closed down the nuclear and coal-fired power stations that now generate 47% of our electricity.

Our Government is locked into the idea that, in less than 10 years, 15% of our electricity must come from renewable sources, mostly wind farms, which currently supply only 0.5%. No proper planning has been done to take into account the problems this will create for the National Grid.

Furthermore, not a single onshore turbine in mainland Britain would be economically viable without the vast hidden subsidy we all pay through our electricity bills (in effect doubling the cost of electricity).

All this is only part of the much wider crisis looming as we face the prospect of losing, by 2015, that 47% of our current supply provided by nuclear and coal.

We shall then be 80% dependent on gas, half of it imported from Norway.

So dilatory has our Government been in its belated conversion to nuclear power that, even if new reactors were to be ordered now, they would not be ready in time to fill the huge gap that will open up from 2010 onwards.

Perhaps Mr Blair's much discussed legacy will be the increasingly severe power cuts that we will start to suffer in just a few years.

In anticipation of the failure of our electricity supplies, though, it would be best now to start thinking of buying a small generator to keep essential equipment supplied. Perhaps, it is what Tony Blair meant when, on the brink of political success 10 years ago, he promised "power in the hands of the people".

PETER TROY, Editor of the blogsite Very British Subjects, Sedgefield, County Durham

Only small number in favour of two tiers

TWO things astonished me in the press release put out by Northumberland County Council following the decision last Friday by the schools organisation committee to go two-tier in Cramlington.

Firstly, that it thinks it's justified in basing its decision on the written responses from its last round of consultation. Of 12,000 questionnaires only 194 were returned and of these less than 120 were in favour of the move, so only a very small number of its council tax payers supported this "investment" of £27m, but it masks this as "64% of Cramlington parents who responded said they supported our proposals to move to a two-tier school system".

Secondly, that it completely fails to make any mention of its oversight in not having planning consent in place for new building and the installation of portable buildings to go ahead, something which the legal adviser from Department for Education and Skills had to wrestle with. The adviser's advice was that they couldn't vote to go ahead unless they made it conditional upon consent being obtained.

Where's the conditional aspect mentioned by the county council for their failure to get it right? Is it guaranteed that full consent will be in place for everything the schools will need? Isn't it absurd that a school can close down in July next year when approval is only conditional for the moves needed?

Good luck to the school partnership in Cramlington in being the guinea pigs for this upheaval county are so convinced we all want.

LYNN ROXBURGH, Longframlington, Northumberland


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