November 6: Safety must take priority as Egypt flights resume

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SHARM el-Sheikh is a hugely popular destination for British holidaymakers which makes the growing evidence that a bomb brought down a Russian airliner last weekend all the more alarming.

With flights set to resume between Britain and the Egyptian resort, amid tight security measures which have been agreed between the two countries, David Cameron confirmed it is “more likely than not” that the passenger jet which crashed on Saturday, killing all 224 people on board, was downed by a terrorist bomb.

Russia reacted by claiming such theories were “speculation” and Egypt said there was “no evidence” yet to support the claim.

The Government should, however, be applauded for putting passenger safety above politics when it acted decisively in suspending all flights immediately following the crash. It was not a decision taken lightly.

Number Ten now says British security experts have worked with Egyptian authorities so that some flights can resume, to bring home the thousands of British tourists left stranded in the Red Sea resort.

It is more common for the Foreign Office to advise against travel to a destination, as opposed to an airport, like it did following the Tunisia terrorist attack in June, in which 30 Britons were killed. Nevertheless, the Government must do whatever it deems necessary to protect British citizens.

If it is proved that this latest incident was a terrorist attack it raises the vexed question of just how safe it is to fly? Ever since 9/11, airport security in the West has been high on the agenda and, while it is an inconvenience for those Britons left stranded in Egypt, it is better to be safe than sorry.

We live in volatile times and if, as seems likely, the Russian plane was brought down by a bomb then the Government will have been vindicated. We simply cannot take chances with people’s lives.

Devo dilemma

Yorkshire failing to capitalise

AS a businessman with a track record of turning a successful Yorkshire-based firm into a major global player, Sir Nigel Knowles would appear to be a good choice to capitalise on the opportunities afforded by regional devolution.

Confirmed yesterday as the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership’s new chairman, he is keen to make the most of the deal agreed with George Osborne to rekindle the dynamism and confidence which once characterised the region. Many will wish him well.

However, the nagging suspicion remains that Yorkshire as a whole risks losing out through its inability to present a united front. With different areas striking varying deals, the overriding impression is of a disjointed, piecemeal approach which seems destined to deliver less than the people of Yorkshire both hope for and deserve.

While the Sheffield City Region has accepted an elected mayor in return for increased powers, others such as Leeds have refused, although they will still gain additional powers.

Council and business leaders in Yorkshire seem unable to reach a consensus on how best to utilise the offer of devolution for the greater good of the whole county and its economic advancement.

Figures show that Manchester currently eclipses West Yorkshire, Sheffield and Hull in terms of the value of goods and services it produces.

If the corners of Yorkshire joined together, however, their combined output would dwarf that of Manchester – placing the county squarely at the forefront of the so-called Northern Powerhouse. That should be all the incentive our leaders need to reach a consensus.

Young at heart

Why old age now starts later

IT used to be the case that life began at 40, now we are being told it starts at 60.

According to a new study, commissioned by insurance services firm Cigna, so-called “old age” is being pushed ever further back. It seems this is down in no small part to the attitude of the baby boomer generation who refuse to let their age define them. The report offers more good news, suggesting that middle age now stretches until six days after your 68th birthday.

While they might not paint the whole picture, studies like this give us an indication of how people feel and it is certainly true that more of us are living longer, healthier lives than ever before.

We increasingly hear stories of octogenarians running marathons or doing parachute jumps, something that should gladden our hearts.

So perhaps it has less to do with how old we are and more to do with our outlook on life. As Mark Twain once said: “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”