Thatcher era was not the ‘good old days’

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Have your say

From: Coun Paul Andrews (Malton Ward), The Beeches, Great Habton, York.

I HAVE to take issue with Tom Richmond. In his article on Saturday (Yorkshire Post, February 15) he suggests that Thatcher might have handled the floods better than David Cameron.

We should not forget the flood we had in Malton, Pickering and Ryedale in 2000. The Ryedale Drainage Boards commissioned a report soon after. This report (known as the ‘Noble Report’ – after its author’s name) reckoned that river maintenance stopped 15 years before – i.e. in 1985 or thereabouts. This was when Thatcher was Prime Minister.

Three years’ neglect would not have caused the floods of 2000. The neglect had to have gone back many years before then. All rivers must have been in the same neglected state. I understand the two rivers in the Somerset Levels now only have 40 per cent of their normal capacity.

The decision to stop maintenance was never noticed at the time – a mean-spirited attempt to save money, regardless of the long-term consequences.

Mrs Thatcher also ditched the old school “one-nation” Tories. Many of these were from the landed classes who understood the countryside. Since then, neither Labour nor Conservatives have anybody of any experience in Government or on the Opposition front bench who understands the countryside.

The Thatcher days were not the “good old days”, and her government started the neglect which Labour continued, and which Cameron now has to resolve.

From: DJ Britton, Denford Avenue, Lytham St Annes, Lancashire.

YOUR leading letter from G Searstone (Yorkshire Post, February 10) concerning the North getting a raw deal is absolutely first class repartee that I could not equal.

I will just say the only trickle down effect the North can expect from London is the Thames.

Pass fulfills useful roles

From: Martin D Stern, Hanover Gardens, Salford.

I MUST disagree with Max Hey (Yorkshire Post, February 17) when he writes that “the Tories may be said to protect the interests of middle class people” – their main concern is for the wealthy. However he is correct that “in contrast the Labour Party protects the interests of working class people” and it is to be hoped that it will “fight to retain very useful benefits such as help with bus travel and heating for older people”.

The only concession I would be prepared to entertain is that the heating allowance be added to the basic pension, which would then be liable to income tax and be proportionately reduced for those on higher incomes.

On the other hand, the bus pass fulfils many useful social roles: it encourages the elderly to go out of the house, thereby avoiding social isolation, reduces the number of car journeys and, perhaps most importantly, acts as a way of subsidising public transport to the benefit of everyone.

A case could be made for not giving them to the mega-wealthy, but they probably never use them, preferring to travel in their luxury cars rather than mix with “the great unwashed”. In any case, it would be a bureaucratic nightmare to decide at what income they should be withdrawn so, in practice, those on middle incomes would be the ones to lose out, as they do whichever party is in power.

Corporate blame game

From: Eric Daines, Burtree Avenue, Skelton, York.

FOLLOWING the tragic death of toddler Lydia Bishop we see the inevitable court cases. First of all the prosecution of a young helper, but when she is exonerated the ‘buck stops there’ – no blame to the principal, the council chief executive or Minister for Education!

Finally York College is fined with costs totalling £220,000.

Who will pay this fine?

1. The college, meaning a further decrease in the funding for facilities, therefore, penalising students.

2. The York Council, paying it from Council Tax, therefore, funded by all residents of York including the parents of the girl.

Mr and Mrs Bishop, who will live with this for the rest of their lives, deserve some sort of closure and we all feel deeply for them, but corporate blame is not the answer.

Sting in tail 
of bus gates

From: Jim Buckley, Aketon, Pontefract.

YOUR paper (Yorkshire Post, February 4) contained a report of bus lane proposals in Huddersfield.

There is a sting in the tail. What the council propose is bus gates. These are generally badly signed, and it is easy for a motorist to enter them without realising what they have done.

They are a cash cow for councils designating them.

Drivers are accustomed to bus lanes, and what they look like.

Bus gates look nothing like bus lanes, but contravention gets you a bus lane fine.

Confused? If you have a suspicious mind, you might 
think that it has been deliberately made so, to catch you out and fine you.

Encourage more to strive

From: Peter Hyde, Driffield, East Yorkshire.

I WOULD be more inclined to listen to the Archbishop of Westminster and the Archbishop of Canterbury if they were not speaking whilst enjoying the luxury of living in palaces. It surely cannot be right that people who don’t work enjoy a better lifestyle than those who do.

When we were young we lived according to our means. No luxury of TV or mobile phones or video games. Yes, we smoked and had the odd pint but certainly no car or central heating.

I accept that many do struggle but those who do not work still expect to have mobile phones for every member of the household, the latest TV and all the trimmings, including a car.

It is high time that we had a better system that encourages people to do as we did and strive to better oneself by working and not by breeding yet another crop of dependants on the state.