Carnage by magpies must be curbed

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From: Les Arnott, Athelstan Road, Sheffield.

WHEN Paul Spivey (Yorkshire Post, May 29) writes, siding with those “corvine gangsters” – magpies – he states that they “have a right to exist” and he is perfectly correct.

Only the other day, I thoroughly enjoyed watching two of these worthies combine efficiently to destroy the nest of a pair of sparrows whose building efforts I have been monitoring over a week or so.

I could not see too clearly but they appear to have gorged themselves on all the eggs. Sadly, I missed out on a magpie ripping a young blackbird apart outside a local shop but at least the shopkeeper was able to give a detailed account before adding more information on what they have done to goldfinches in his garden.

Natural, Mr Spivey? Of course, it is. What you have perhaps overlooked however, is that the mass proliferation of magpies in certain areas has gutted the local songbird populations. That is arguably natural too but hardly desirable.

Here in Sheffield 13 in 1975, magpies were observable but far from common. Not so long ago, on the roof opposite my house, there was a gang of 19 side by side.

This group alone would ravage thousands, possibly even tens of thousands of nests in a single season.

I shall not go into the many reasons why mankind’s lifestyles have created this terrible imbalance but will simply state that it must be addressed. A cull is essential and I joined the Songbird Survival Trust when I could no longer tolerate the RSPB’s cavalier attitude to this ongoing, wildlife catastrophe.

Watching with interest

From: Michael A Clynch, Huddersfield Road, Ingbirchworth, Sheffield.

I HOPE the 500 worthies slurping their way through champagne at the expense of Wakefield Council enjoyed their preview of the Hepworth Wakefield Gallery. I don’t expect most of them will be seen again so far north.

Chipperfield’s building at £35m is quite an achievement, given the dire state of the local authority finances but at least the Wakefield population have somewhere to walk to (there is no car park) if they fancy a bit of culture.

The outdoor appearance is curiously retro in its Sixties brutalism and forbidding, as if housing lunatics or dangerous animals, but the galleries are beautifully lit and flow together in an easy logic.

I have a fear that the building will require constant subsidies in large amounts, particularly if flooded with staff as all council-sponsored ventures seem to be.

Wakefield now has the token gift from the London luvvies, and like the Doncaster Earth Centre and the Sheffield Modern Music Centre, we can all watch with interest the outcome.

Chamber’s silence

From: M Moss, Sheffield.

WITH regard to the story surrounding Sheffield City Airport and the council’s decision to close it, why did the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry remain silent on the matter?

Initially, the chamber was all supportive of our airport and adjoining business park (they tend to come together as a package), but suddenly withdrew their support.

Not only did they back off supporting the airport, the Sheffield business community and the regeneration of the Lower Don Valley and job prospects, they have been actively promoting such things in Doncaster with their support of Robin Hood Airport.

Is this the first time in any chamber’s history that they have supported businesses in another town or city to the detriment of their own?

Unsporting gestures

From: Ruthven Urquhart, High Hunsley, Cottingham.

PERHAPS I’m too old-fashioned (and elderly) but as a lover of most sports, I find it difficult to accept some of the modern trends relating to some of the more popular sporting activities.

These are the ones that I really abhor: the necessity for footballers to “spit” so regularly; the excessive “grunting” of tennis players, especially the ladies; and the embracing and “pat-a-cake” actions of cricketers when celebrating a particular feat.

I cannot remember Sir Stanley Matthews, Miss Virginia Wade or Sir Len Hutton, respectively, ever having to resort to these distasteful and extraordinary habits.

Forgive me if I am over-critical and totally out of order in being unable to understand these strange, behavioural changes.

Enterprising arrivals

From: Brian Sheridan, Redmires Road, Sheffield.

HOW does Barbara Gill of Great Ouseburn (Yorkshire Post, May 31) know that “low-skilled workers from eastern Europe are not coming to find work but to claim hand-outs, paid for by the hard-working people of the UK”?

In Sheffield, there are examples of enterprising eastern Europeans who have opened small businesses. Other eastern Europeans are prepared to do jobs that the locals don’t want.

There may well be a third category who are here for the hand-outs, but what about the huge numbers of feckless Brits?

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