Directors have last laugh as public pay out

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From: Howard A Knight, Lyons Street, Sheffield.

the report into the failure of the Royal Bank of Scotland catalogues reckless arrogance by the bank’s executives and negligent incompetence by its non-executive directors (Yorkshire Post, December 13).

Attempting to blame the regulator – although it was clearly not up to the job – is rather like blaming a policeman for arriving too late to stop some criminal trashing your home.

Yet, not a single executive or director has been required to repay any of the obscene salaries or bonuses they received relating to that performance. Why? More generally, I have been unable to trace a single instance of banks requiring the repayment of bonuses received by executives or directors in respect of a panoply of mis-selling scandals.

Banks, quite rightly, are being required to reimburse affected customers and made to pay large fines. But historic bonuses paid for that mis-selling remain unaffected, and the only ones who will pay the costs of misconduct are current customers in higher charges.

I have little sympathy with those being punished for their part in the riots. However, the contrast, between their treatment and the outcomes for those who were handsomely rewarded for bringing the global economy to its knees, is stark.

Taxpayers left with bill for folly

From: Coun John Hall, Lib Dem, Windhill anad Wrose Ward, Shipley.

PAST governments have welcomed house price inflation as a driver of (some) economic activity, but at a cost.

Those (often working couples) who can afford to buy, take on ever greater mortgages.

Others who cannot dream of buying, pay silly rents or must live with family.

Totals paid in housing benefits increase, (paid to over 75 per cent of social housing tenants in parts of my ward).

Linking social rents to private rents and house prices, though necessary, is unsustainable or at the expense of other areas of need.

Housing costs are a greater part of incomes. Poorly paid jobs meet a smaller part of essential living costs including accommodation.

To do the best for his/her family, some claimants must let the state pay as wages will not do.

Retirement and residential-care homes cost more so as to provide a return on costly accommodation, yet many house owners expect to give dwellings with inflated value to offspring while the state pays to meet accommodation prices linked to inflation in later life!

Southern Cross partly or mainly failed because it sold the ownership of homes in order to cash-in on the inflated prices of homes.

It then rented them back at market rates which residents and the public purse would not or could not meet.

What a way to run an economy! At least the bankers are happy with all the cash sloshing about. But that’s another story.

Get tough on phone drivers

From: Rev Neil McNicholas, St Hilda’s, Whitby.

IN light of the disclosure (“Motorists undeterred by bigger phone fines”, Yorkshire Post, December 12) that last year 171,000 drivers were issued with fixed penalty notices for driving while using a mobile phone, up from 166,800 the year before – and these are just the drivers that have been caught – clearly penalties are not a deterrent.

Such a figure (plus all the others who haven’t been caught) suggests almost an attitude of civil disobedience.

Has the situation – and the threat that it poses to other road users – reached a point where, because the law and its consequences are being ignored by these totally irresponsible drivers, perhaps their cars should be taken from them and crushed?

Maybe that would teach them a lesson and it would also remove their ability to continue flaunting the law.

From: Roger M Dobson, Ash Street, Crosshills, Keighley.

I WAS appalled after reading your report that more and more motorists are being caught using mobile phones while driving (Yorkshire Post, December 12).

This is, of course, after the financial penalty was doubled from £30 to £60.

Surely the answer is to include as part of the punishment a driving ban of say, three months to be given in a magistrates’ court and not included in a fixed penalty from a policeman?

Money well spent on poor

From: Mollie Somerville, Silk Warehouse, Lilycroft Road, Bradford.

THE other evening, I heard a talk from a young man who’d recently visited one of the drought-stricken areas of Ethiopia.

We’d gone with a small group from CAFOD, a small bid agency, and seen projects part funded by DFID (Department for International Development).

He described the water-harvesting projects and well digging and the changes in the way of life of pastoralists whose cattle are dying.

In one place where the grass for grazing had disappeared and cacti invaded the area, villagers had found that they could harvest these and set up a co-operative producing aloe vera soap.

Even though people were having to living in extreme circumstances, there was resilience and hope.

It was good to know that the money we pay, as taxpayers, in overseas aid, is being used fruitfully.

In our own time of recession, 0.7 per cent of GDP should be treasured as a sign of hope for others.