Tuesday's Letters: It's not enough to rely on well-meaning volunteers

NUMEROUS telephone calls and letters over the past few weeks indicate that charities are finding funds difficult to acquire.

The recent wintry weather has caused chaos but also brought out the best in some communities – South Anston getting a special mention by your reporter Chris Bond (Yorkshire Post, December 13) for the fact that much help was given to complete strangers who became stranded. Certainly, there were "heroes of the snow who warmed their communities' hearts" – the "Big Society" in operation already.

However, Euan Hall gives us a timely reminder that goodwill alone cannot deal with many issues which need long-term planning and sustainability inbuilt in good management (Yorkshire Post, December 17) and warns that the "Big Society"could turn into a "Big Flop".

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He mentions the South Yorkshire Community Woodland, part of which is in Anston (together with the Blue Bell Wood Hospice for terminally ill children close by) and argues that local support can only operate where local efforts require the support of a proper sustainable network of management and sustainable maintenance and funding which is often beyond the reach of local people.

Besides with uncertainty of employment and personal income, where debt is common and community and family breakdown a serious difficulty, it is not easy for local councils to identify specific projects which ordinary people can support on a regular basis.

Government initiatives to enable localities to be "run by the people for people" ring hollow since they have been ignored for so long by national and local politicians who are largely responsible for the present mess we are in.

In all aspects of society, we need properly trained professionals to develop understanding of issues relating to the care of the young, the sick, the elderly and those who are social misfits. Being a well-meaning volunteer is insufficient as deep practical knowledge shared across disciplines is needed to help the most vulnerable in society and progress with such individuals is slow. The structures in place are too inflexible to enable professional judgment to flourish for fear of error – to pass the full responsibility down to the local level alone is a failure of central government.

I therefore support your editorial of December 20, entitled "Giving and taking away!"

From: JW Slack, Swinton Hill Road, Dinnington, Sheffield.

Fire fiasco fuels flames of discontent

From: S Matheson, Clifton Close, Horbury.

WITH reference to the national scandal known as the fire control centre fiasco whereby taxpayers' money, estimated to be at least 250m, has been wasted due to someone's gross incompetence (Yorkshire Post, December 21), the Labour government seems to have signed a blank cheque, Eric Pickles talked tough and said he wasn't going to roll over and have his tummy tickled by the contractor (quite a task in his case!) but one swift U-turn later he has done just that.

To rub salt in the wound, especially for those people who can't afford to put on their heating, we are told we are paying 5,000 a day for an obsolete building.

It is a matter of public concern, as to who agreed to this extortionate amount. I am sure it would have been cheaper to house the control centre in Buckingham Palace and Her Majesty would be glad of the extra income to help with Prince William's wedding costs.

Fire chiefs are seeking an alternative use for the centre, I suggest it is opened to the public to demonstrate how taxpayers' money can be wasted.

Jim Bowen could be compere, saying: "You, Madam, paid 2,000 for this chair, and you, Sir, paid 3,000 for that lightbulb".

A curtain would roll back to reveal a fleet of Ferraris – whereupon Jim would helpfully say: "This is what you could have bought with the rent!"

From: Andrew Thomas, Ilkley.

WHAT Eric Pickles did not say about the new fire control centre that is no longer required is what will happen to the building.

I agree with your Comment that the Government should ensure the premises are made available to start-up businesses, so some private sector jobs can be brought to an area that is over-dependent on the public sector economy. Do others agree?

Hats off to old courtesies

From: Terry Duncan,Greame Road, Bridlington, East Yorkshire,

HAVING watched a review of the newspapers the other day by the betting pundit, John McCririck, just a few months older than myself, I wondered about his upbringing.

His questionable attitude to ladies – and that includes his remark about the Prime Minister's wife on the same programme, and the way he talks about his own spouse – is somewhat repulsive and totally agin the manners instilled into me by my Highland parents in my youth just under seven decades ago.

He, like, many so-called stars of TV today, appears in our living room via the medium of television, wearing a hat, very often in the company of women who are either guests on the same programme or are the presenters.

This particular rude attitude of males hit me these past few weeks, when my caring wife insisted I wear a cap, never done before, when out and about to protect me from all the types of fatal influenza that are sweeping the world.

I surprised myself, at entering supermarkets, stores and fashion shops, that I automatically removed my hat.

Maybe, my late parents did drill something in to me after all, ie to be courteous to others.

However, there are cases when maybe a hat must be worn. That is by those who want to hide injuries and the ruthless results from cancer treatment.

There is a gentleman who presents the BBC Bargain Hunt programme who always lifts his hat to those whom he meets.

Diet takes toll of children

From: Heather Causnett, Escrick Park Gardens, Escrick, York.

I READ the letter from Dr Hilary Andrews (Yorkshire Post, December 29) about overweight children and wonder just how bad this situation has to get before the true culprits are brought to book.

I refer, of course, to the mothers of these unfortunate children. A good diet has to start at birth – junk food, fizzy drinks and little or no fruit or vegetables is the staple diet supplied by far too many irresponsible, lazy mothers – children have to be taught to eat correctly, but all too often their homes reflect the lack of any sort of discipline or mealtime nourishment. I believe child benefit should be cut to enable schools to provide breakfast clubs.

I have a friend who works for Ofsted and she is horrified but helpless at the number of children who don't even have a hot drink before leaving for school, let alone some good food.

A child may be handed a few coins to "buy yourself something" – which is usually crisps, drinks or sweets – how on earth are children to succeed at school, or in life, with this sort of diet?

This is one more example of children suffering lasting harm, and nothing being done about it.

More broken promises

From: Les Whitehead, Windy Acre Main Road, Saltfleetby, Louth, Lincolnshire.

TERRY Palmer (Yorkshire Post, December 9) is sick and tired of broken manifesto promises from the Lib Dems. It's time Terry took off his red tinted spectacles and remembered who got us into this mess. His beloved party is not blameless in regard to promises. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown both promised a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Both these promises were broken and Gordon Brown even went so far as to sneak into Europe to sign the treaty hours after the rest of the signatories had publicly signed.

David Cameron is not blameless either, having promised the same referendum he too has reneged. It is no use saying it is too late, David Cameron already knew the treaty had been signed so why promise?

When is anyone going to stand up for the ordinary people of this country and give us a referendum on whether we want to be in or out of the corrupt and expensive EU.

We would survive as Norway and Switzerland do. Europe needs our trade they have a huge trading surplus with us. We don't need to be supplying them with billions of pounds for the privilege.

At last, TV with true quality

From: David Quarrie, Lynden Way, Acomb, York.

IT would appear that two of the most popular recent TV programmes have been Downton Abbey on ITV and the new Upstairs Downstairs on the BBC.

Could the reason for the great popularity of these two be that the TV audiences welcome seeing and hearing well spoken English, good manners, signs of respect, sensible dress sense, people knowing their place, a plausible script, virtually no swearing and no "Americanisms"?

I thoroughly enjoyed both series, and look forward to more such quality performances.

No contest over comedians

From: Jane Smith, Wellesley Avenue, Hull.

I AGREE with Tom Richmond (Yorkshire Post, January 1). Ant and Dec are terrible and comparisons with the great Morecambe and Wise are misplaced. Some describe the Geordie pair as "legends". I disagree. That description should only be reserved for comedy greats, like Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise.

Grim viewing

From: Phil Johnson, Northallerton.

WHAT does it say about the mood of the nation that EastEnders should, once again, be the most popular programme on Christmas Day. It is relentless in its misery.

As the rugby player Olly Barkley observed on his twitter feed that was part of "Words of the week" (Yorkshire Post, January 1): "Short of a nuclear bomb being dropped on a primary school, I don't think EastEnders could get any more depressing."

Give me Coronation Street any day of the week.

Vision failure

From: Duncan Walters, Ilkley.

DAVID Cameron and Ed Miliband were, predictably, two of the first people to congratulate England's cricketers on their Ashes win against Australia. They can, presumably, afford to pay for the satellite coverage to watch the coverage live – what about the genuine fans who cannot afford pay-per-view television? How about standing up for them?