High fees are no barrier to university

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Have your say

From: Michael Meadowcroft, president, Leeds West Liberal Democrats, Waterloo Lane, Leeds.

YOUR Editorial (“Degree of concern”, Yorkshire Post, January 31) makes three practical points for prospective university students, but it misses out the most crucial point of all – that the Government’s tuition fee policy is an excellent deal for students who should certainly not be put off by the high fees being charged by most universities.

No student has to pay a penny until they are earning £420 per week, at which point they pay £16. The capital sum has never to be repaid as such and no interest is paid on it before reaching this minimum earning level. And any amount remaining is written off after 30 years. What’s the problem?

I can only assume that there is very poor information and advice being given to prospective students, either by their schools or by the universities themselves.

Extra tracks for rail link

From: AG Parker, Central Square, Brigg, North Lincolnshire.

I REFER to the article by Angela Smith MP regarding the Northern Hub project (Yorkshire Post, January 23).

In this article, she comments upon the length of time it takes to cover the 30 miles between Sheffield and Manchester. The distance between these two cities is 42 miles by the trans-Pennine route via Stockport and Hazel Grove and journeys are scheduled to take between 48 and 51 minutes. This I think is considerably better than our Victorian forebears.

However, the other route between these two cities via New Mills Central and Bredbury is three-quarters of a mile longer and services take between 75 and 80 minutes. But, these services call at many stations, 14 I think, and provide a regular service to these smaller settlements.

I was pleased to see that Angela Smith did acknowledge that the line through to Grimsby and Cleethorpes is a trans-Pennine route, although this is often not realised. But it does pass through important centres in Yorkshire such as Sheffield and Doncaster.

As Angela Smith says passengers on the Hope Valley line will not see congestion eased, which is a pity. This line is extremely important, but is it the only one? To reinstate the Woodhead tunnels would be very challenging to say the least; could extra tracks be accommodated on the Hope Valley line?

Unnecessary anniversary

From: Lester May (Lieutenant-Commander RN – retired), Camden Town, London.

IT has been reported that the Prime Minister has asked officials to draw up plans to mark the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War.

This veteran of that war is not alone in not wanting any commemoration this year. In our country it is the norm that 25th, 50th and 60th anniversaries of past events are marked and we should stick to that.

I would rather that the Ministry of Defence offers minimal support for any service organisations marking the event, and no more. I’d prefer that the MoD concentrates its energies on current campaigns, on ensuring the security of the Falkland Islands and on sorting out its budgetary black hole.

Ignoring cost of flooding

From: Richard Hinton, Kings Hill Avenue, Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent.

THE Public Accounts Committee has correctly highlighted a major danger in the Government’s policy on flood defences (Yorkshire Post, January 31). Currently, the Environment Agency spends only £300m on flood defences in the UK, which it admits has left 43 per cent of flood defences in fair, poor or very poor condition.

While £300m may sound like a large sum, when one considers that more than a quarter of properties in the UK – worth over £214bn – are at risk of flooding and that the floods in the summer of 2007 gave rise to claims worth more than £3bn, it’s clear the level of investment is not proportionate to the danger flooding poses.

The agreement between the Government and the insurance industry to ensure flood insurance is available to all properties is based on the assumption that by its expiry in June 2013 public investment in flood defences will make it possible to insure all properties on the open market. We are in danger of this vision being proved wildly optimistic, creating a new blight that will further suppress activity in the near-dormant property market.

Nature has no regard for the state of public finances. Failing to invest adequately in flood defence will ultimately prove imprudent on a grand scale.

Syria must be left alone

From: John Ellwood, North Duffield, Selby.

IT may have been all right for the police and civil authorities to stand back and allow the mayhem of looting and arson to carry on last summer, but it is a serious thing when our Foreign Secretary and media encourage civil disobedience in Syria.

Britain should keep its nose out of Syrian affairs. To encourage the Arab spring is to encourage bands of terrorists and local militias to run amok. Furthermore, for Britain to turn against former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak and pretend he was never a friend anyway is a disgrace, when he was one of the stabilising powers in a turbulent area. As ever, the people at the rough receiving end of this “democratisation” will be the women and religious minorities – including the Christians.