26-year-old crime bars volunteering

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From: Bob Crowther, High Street, Crigglestone, Wakefield.

I FOUND your article and editorial (Yorkshire Post, January 3) regarding the large number of serving police officers who have criminal records, deeply disturbing and in my case rather amusing.

Several months ago, I applied for a voluntary role within the Prison Service. I attended two interviews and was deemed acceptable by the panel.

However, I then received a letter from the Ministry of Justice informing me that my application had been refused due to my “criminal record”.

My offence was the fact that I had been guilty of the misuse of a tax disc on my vehicle 26 years ago. This is my only offence during my 77 years upon this earth and having made inquiries with a view to having the offence expunged, I have been informed that it will stay on record for 100 years.

As the saying goes: “It makes yer want to laugh”.

Betrayed by trendy Tories

From: Aled Jones, Mount Crescent, Bridlington.

IT’S right to search for the causes of the embarrassing decline of Christianity in these islands, but why blame it on the influx over the last 30 years of people with alien religions?

In Britain today, there is a total lack of Christian belief and drive from the people who shape national public opinion via their control of the Press and broadcasting industry (Yorkshire Post, January 2). Men and women who, in the main, are of native British descent and who therefore have no excuse not to safeguard our values and our way of life.

However, for me, it was the trendy “Conservative” politicians of the Nineties who started the rot. Indeed, it was John Major’s so-called Back to Basics government that decided not to make Christian values the bedrock of its educational programme, with nearly half the syllabus devoted to minority religions.

It meant that even Church of England schools were forced to spend valuable time studying other faiths.

Sadly, the people we pay our taxes to have betrayed our heritage and traditions and now for the first time in 1,000 years Christianity in Britain is under very real threat.

New role for Tony Blair

From: John Parker, Station Road, Baildon, Shipley.

TREV Bromby in his excellent letter (Yorkshire Post, December 31) is right to remind us of Tony Blair’s vanity, deceit and sleaze the awful civilian casualties in the Iraq war for which he must bear some responsibility.

However, he will be looking at 2012 with anticipation of a new development in his career. When our former Prime Minister resigned from office, his career as a speaker at a fee approaching a banker’s bonus took off in a big way. Mr Blair’s job as Middle East Envoy seems to have made little or no difference to the Israeli and Palestine stalemate so a new channel for his energies was needed.

His vanity was fuelled by his uncanny empathy with dim-witted presidents and corrupt dictators and how the ruthless Colonel Gaddafi must have wished for a cosy chat and a handshake from his best mate Tony in the final months of his time in Libya.

But with the loss of Gaddafi a new face appears, a young man, now dictator of an authoritarian state with a starving population, and in need of guidance from an experienced hand – Kim Jong-un, the son of a man who has brought his country North Korea to isolation and total reliance on China for support.

Mr Blair could demand a huge fee with a censored Press removing any chance that journalists would find out and accuse him of greed. How about that for a new source of cash for the mortgage payments in this time of austerity?

Countryside at risk

From: Joey Abad, St Margarets Road, Methley, Leeds.

I AM increasingly concerned about the Government’s planning reforms (Ben Stafford, Yorkshire Post, January 3). They’re right to talk about protecting green belts, national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty when decisions are made about where development should take place, but what about the 60 per cent of England’s countryside that is none of these things – like a lot of our local countryside?

Since 1945, successive governments have protected the countryside for its own sake – which means thinking carefully before building in the countryside, and ensuring it is an option of last resort. For almost 20 years there has been a requirement that land that’s been used before – brownfield land – should be developed before green fields.

The Government is proposing to abandon this policy, yet a new report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England demonstrates that the supply of brownfield land is increasing – there is enough to provide 1.5 million new homes.

Protecting the countryside and building on brownfield land go hand in hand.

Time is running out – I gather that Ministers are considering the final changes to their new planning policies. If something is not done soon to get them to change their plans, much of our countryside will be at risk.