Testing times for drivers of any age

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From: Peter Hyde, Kendale View, Driffield.

JAYNE Dowle is quite correct when she says older drivers should be tested (Yorkshire Post, March 15.

I am approaching 80 and was concerned that I might not be safe on the road in modern day traffic. I took in upon myself to ask my next door neighbour, who is a driving instructor, to take me out in my own car for a mock test. On our return, he told me that I would have failed a test but that I was perfectly safe to be on the road.

He pointed out my shortcomings and I have made a conscious effort not to repeat them and therefore feel that I am a better driver than I was. It took a lot of effort to persuade my 91-year-old brother to stop driving, after he had a few close calls and was clearly not safe.

It takes some courage to submit yourself to a test and I am sure the majority of drivers of advanced years would be very reluctant to put their licences to drive at risk, therefore the only way is to introduce tests just to see if the older driver is safe in today’s traffic conditions.

From: K Brennan, Newlands Drive, Stanley, Wakefield.

I READ Jayne Dowle’s article suggesting that a re-test for elderly/older drivers was perhaps a good idea. No doubt such testing would be beneficial. However I have mooted to the PM in the past (without success or reply) the suggestion that drivers of whatever age now, and in the future, would need to take a test every, say four years, from the age of 17.

The scheme seems to me to have many merits:

New test centres would need to be built, giving employment to a multitude of construction workers;

Admin staff of all types would be needed;

Drivers who fail would need to be disqualified until another test was passed;

The whole should result in better safer drivers on our roads.

I prefer taste of Yorkshire

From: Mark Andrew, Manor Heath Road, Halifax.

YOUR report (Yorkshire Post, March 16) on the result of MasterChef failed to mention that Tom Rennolds, a plasterer, from Yorkshire was one of the other two finalists.

Not only was he the only one of full English ancestry, the winner Shelina Permalloo having a Mauritian family and Andrew Kojima a Japanese father, but in his final plates Tom included Yorkshire Rhubarb. Sadly not cooked enough for the judges.

While they were full of praise for Shelina’s exotic dishes my preference was for Tom’s and I certainly look forward to reading in a future edition of your Saturday Magazine when he gives up the building trade and is running a successful diner in his home county.

And in the same edition why was the photograph in the report of the new Battle of Britain Monument that of Douglas Bader when locally born Flying Officer Hugh S L Dundas is better known in our county and indeed served in 616 Squadron that was founded at RAF Doncaster? Or that well known ace Sgt James Harry “Ginger” Lacey from Wetherby?

n From plaster to master: See Life & Style.

Balsam is no friend to bees

From: Kathleen Roberts, Almsford Road, Harrogate.

REGARDING the letter from Ken Pickles, Protecting the important role in life of the bee (Yorkshire Post, March 14), the defence of Himalayan balsam by Mr Pickles is based on its importance as a nectar-producing plant for bees. Mr Pickles writes: “Life is difficult enough for the bees. The biggest threat to them is human beings…”

I do wonder if Mr Pickles is a bee-keeper, in which case he will know only too well that if we did not rob the bees of their honey, they would make it through the winter very nicely on their own.

However, his defence of this invasive plant is ill-informed. I would like to make the following points to demonstrate the real dangers of allowing it to thrive unhindered where it was never meant to grow in the first place.

Himalayan balsam does not assist with bank erosion: according to the Environment Agency, it causes it, because it inhibits the growth of native plants so that nothing else grows on river banks. Being a shallow-rooted annual, when it dies down in late summer, there is nothing holding the bank together during winter flooding.

It may be a useful plant for bees during its flowering period but it is of no value to many other insects which require a wide range of plants both for nectar (at times of year when there is no balsam!) and for food for caterpillars, ladybird larvae etc.

It blankets the areas where it grows and prevents any other plants from germinating – plants such as bee orchids have no chance to compete. It will colonise an area rapidly and within a matter of a few years, nothing else is found to be growing on that site, so it is the enemy of biodiversity.

Bees therefore only have access to nectar for a very short time and then have to forage further to find an area which it has yet to colonise.

If Mr Pickles wants the bees – not to mention butterflies, moths, hoverflies and much more – to starve and die out completely, all he needs to do is to encourage the growth of Himalayan balsam.