First-class campaign to be applauded

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From: Norman J Hazell, Woolgreaves Drive, Sandal, Wakefield.

I APPLAUD the campaign you have launched in respect of councillors and senior officers travelling first-class on the railway (Yorkshire Post, January 5).

In my 35 years as a member of the “old” Wakefield City Council and then Wakefield Metropolitan District Council, I never needed to travel first-class.

Indeed, I remember walking through the old third-class section and coming across Sir Jack Smart, leader of Wakefield, travelling to London for a meeting.

I expressed surprise at finding him in this carriage after he had invited me to join him, to be told: “I am travelling on ratepayers’ money and always travel this way, so long as I can find a seat.”

On another tack, once when travelling with Bradford councillor Phyllis Pettit we were surprised to find that the two officers from West Yorkshire Police Authority heading for the same police meeting were in first- class, while Phyllis and I were in second.

We walked along to speak to them and learnt that while council members of the police authority were expected to travel second-class, all staff members travelled first. The two clerical officers at least had the decency to get Phyllis and I a cup of coffee, before we left them to return to our seats.

That was 15 years ago and I don’t know if there have been changes.

From: R Bastin, York.

I WAS somewhat puzzled by your front page article (Yorkshire Post, January 5) and accompanying editorial, exposing what you regarded as the misuse of public funds by senior public sector staff.

What you did not detail was what the various journeys described would have cost the taxpayer had the individuals concerned chosen to make their journey by car rather than rail. That comparison may have put the fares quoted more in perspective.

The people highlighted in the article are all in very senior positions. A typical journey to, say, London, is not an “away day” for them but a continuation of their everyday office activities – made possible by the fact that they have chosen to go by rail rather than car.

Unlike Germany or Switzerland, second-class in most of our long distance trains in the UK, with their high density seating arrangements and lack of tables, is hardly conducive to a comfortable working environment. Unfortunately, where this is required it is usually necessary to travel first-class.

Maybe it would be better for you to campaign for lower rail fares more in line with the rest of Europe?

In that way, more businessmen, from both the private and public sectors, may be persuaded to go by rail. It would also help reduce road congestion with its associated environmental benefits. The ability to carry out useful work rather than simply sitting behind the wheel of a car must also surely have significant productivity implications.

The truth goes up in smoke

From: David F Chambers, Sladeburn Drive, Northallerton.

LAUNCHING a new set of nasty pictures on cigarette packets, Dame Sally Davies, the Department of Health chief medical officer, informs us that “people don’t personalise the harms of smoking and don’t understand what is happening in their bodies. This will show them.”

Strangely, over 81 years, I have yet to encounter a cigarette sprouting a cancerous tumour, 
or even one that exudes 
liquid fat.

If Dame Sally wishes to educate us that’s fine, but she should at least stick to the truth.

We’re already reeling from the prospect of existing on an atmosphere of carbon dioxide amid searing temperatures and rising sea levels. One scare at a time please.

We may be more receptive when more trustworthy research has put global warming in perspective and the process 
of demolishing windmills is under way.

Labels that are beyond belief

From: Beryl Williams, Wharfedale Avenue, Harrogate.

I APPLAUD your reader Geoffrey Barratt for condemning illegal Israeli activities. However, his use of the word Jewish led me to reflect on various religion-related terms which the press would do well to clarify.

Jews are people who practise Judaism. If they then abuse 
such religion for political ends, they are more aptly referred to as Zionists. New York Rabbis recently had a peace-promoting meeting with the visiting President of Iran.

Muslims are people who practise Islam. If they then abuse such religion for political ends, they are more aptly referred to as Islamists.

To Christians, a different analogy applies. The Quakers of the Religious Society of Friends are people who practise Christianity.

But there seems to be no specific term for a Christian 
who abuses such religion for political ends.

I find this quite bemusing. It 
is probably because the 
churches, which invest in armaments and call our armed forces “heroes”, are more subtle in their approach.