Saturday's Letters: Politicians can still reverse these damaging defence cuts

With regard to the leader and Ark Royal's last day (Yorkshire Post, December 4), David Cameron's abandonment of this unique component of our defence capability is short-sighted.

This equals the folly of curtailing the Defence Review to three months when the issue of the defence of our nation is of primary concern and should have been debated, cross-questioned and analysed over 12 months before major cuts were implemented.

We live in a troubled world. Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, piracy on the high seas and now that oil has been found in the Falklands, rumblings from Argentina supported by other South American states. To leave us without a working aircraft carrier for 10 years is not "an acceptable risk".

The ship is as good as the men (and women) who sail her. I was privileged to be a member of a civic delegation led by the Lord Mayor, Alderman Walsh, to take part in a cruise in the North Sea on the old Ark Royal (number four). The ship exercised throughout and I was able to experience being catapulted off the flight deck in a reconnaissance aircraft. The delegation's admiration for the team spirit and professionalism of all concerned was unparalleled.

The scrapping of the Harriers is another act of folly. The Harrier is more effective in close support of ground forces than the Tornado and is far cheaper to operate. Since our political masters are concerned with cost, they should note that the Typhoon costs twice as much as the Harrier which uses only 500 gallons of fuel per engagement, the Tornado probably at least four times as much.

To put these highly trained pilots on the scrapheap is indefensible. In a crisis, combat ready infantryman can be trained in three months, a fighter pilot three years?

We are asked to believe that money is short but the foreign aid budget has been increased by 4bn sufficient to keep the Ark Royal and its aircraft in being until the new carriers are ready.

I share your concern that this decision is not one that will be regretted, but I do not agree that the decision cannot be reversed.

The decision was made by career politicians and they can reverse it if they put internal politics to one side and concentrate on their primary duty of defence of the realm. Mr Cameron has forfeited my regard and my vote.

From: Gerald Jarratt, Baghill Road, Tingley, near Wakefield.

Sense should prevail over student fees

From: James Anthony Bulmer, Whitehall Court, Peel Street, Horbury, Wakefield.

THE students' mass protests over the debt they may incur during their time at university appears to be a little unfounded or at least over-precious – don't knock it until you've tried it, so to speak.

Is it that, they, eventually hope to enter the millionaire cult which is growing by the day, and wish to attain this status via a free ride on entering university?

Further to the above, are any of these hopeful entrepreneurs studying economics and maths, it would appear that none of them know anything about either one of these subjects, or that the Government has been left with no money and a massive debt by the previous administration. Consequently, most freebies will no longer be on the menu, especially for the greedy.

Should the students now approach the six or seven million people who are now millionaires and multi-millionaires and, as the industrialists of the past did, pay for students places who really prove their worth. Maybe then ideas will spring up that are not purely for personal gain but to get people back into work.

Selfishness and greed are not the ways of progress. Work for it and earn it, do not rely on the taxes of the few that are in work and, for that matter, pensioners like myself, who had to work for it, to pay for someone else's education? Will common sense ever prevail?

From: Alfred Gabb, consulting civil engineer (retired), Overton, York.

WHEN I graduated from Loughborough College in 1951 as a civil engineer, many of my fellow students were ex-service personnel from the Second World War.

Whereas my father, as a civilian, paid all my fees and living costs, the ex-servicemen got everything free, even down to pocket money I recollect, when a professional workforce was essential.

So surely, as in post-war times when Britain was broke, and there was great need to boost the economy, the Government should at least waive the tuition fees, especially for the manufacturing-related professions, such as science and engineering. This should anyway be available free as part of the normal education of the youth of this country.

Shambles in bin collection

From: Paul T Shipley, Oulton, Leeds.

WHAT an absolute and utter shambles the new Leeds bin collection service is. I live on a farm on the outskirts of Leeds and have had my bins emptied only once in the last seven weeks. My neighbours have been much more lucky and have had their bins emptied twice.

I have lost count of the number of times I have rung the council to complain, often having to wait more than 20 minutes in a call queue only to be told that they were aware of the problem and that it would be sorted out quickly – well it hasn't been.

My complaint was escalated to a senior manager for action – which surprise, surprise has not happened. Much to the delight of the local rat population, my bins continue to overflow and are providing them with an early Christmas feast.

I appreciate that the new routes would take a little time to get on stream but only one collection in seven weeks is beyond a joke – perhaps I should not pay my council tax for seven weeks and see what happens then, a trip to the magistrates court I suspect.

Come on Leeds City Council, health issues are involved here. We pay our council tax and we have a right to receive the services we pay so highly for.

Plight of the oil users

From: AW Clarke, Wold Croft, Sutton on Derwent.

It has long been a hobby-horse of mine that though there are questions asked in Parliament regarding any increase in the price of electricity or gas supplies to the domestic market the domestic heating oil user is sadly neglected. This is in spite of the fact that there are several millions of us in this country.

The fact that we are largely rural dwelling may have something to do with this neglect in that we are widespread and do not, as a rule, form pressure groups.

I should just like to draw readers attention to the recent rise in the price of oil to the domestic user. My last order, placed in October, of 800 litres, cost me 43p per litre. Today, a litre has cost me 74.95p. I will leave it to readers to decide whether this is capitalising on the dreadful weather we have been having or, as I am told by the supplier, "market forces". I confess that the difference between the two escapes me.

I regret to say that the problems predicted that the Western world would have trouble with the supply of fuels is no longer in the future but has come to pass.

Power from reservoirs

From: JJ Watson, Darlington, Co Durham.

I WONDER whether Yorkshire Water has considered how it might use its reservoir system for generating hydro electric power? For instance, the reservoirs in Nidderdale appear to offer a number of possibilities.

The daily release of water from Gouthwaite reservoir, timed to contribute to peak demand for electricity, could be easily utilised for the purpose. Overflow from Scar House Reservoir could also be utilised.

A further possibility would be to allow water to flow from Angram Reservoir into Scarhouse for electricity generation then return it using wind-powered pumps.

The environment, Yorkshire Water and its customers would all stand to gain from fully utilising the hydro electricity potential of Yorkshire's reservoir system.

I'm proud of nation that still wins when it loses

From: Brian Sheridan, Redmires Road, Sheffield.

I AM not proud of the fact that, viscerally, I am a self-loathing liberal who has been known to sneer at what I perceive as Little England. So I welcome an unexpected surge of patriotism late in my life. This arises not out of England's recent success on the cricket field, though I love to see the Aussies lose.

I am proud of David Beckham, Prince William and others who campaigned with integrity to stage the World Cup in the face of the venality of FIFA and some of our rivals. They have done their reputations no harm at all.

I am proud of the freedom of our Press though it is alleged, erroneously I believe, that it scuppered our chances of staging the tournament; minds had already been made up.

I am proud of the English football leagues: Junji Ogura, the President of the Japanese FA and member of FIFA's executive committee, claims that accusations by our media were racially motivated, as those accused were from Africa and Oceania. What does he know about racial prejudice? Our Premier and Football Leagues are the most multi-racial in the world.

I am proud that English Test Match venues remain full when England are taking a beating and Wimbledon is a sell out whether or not the contestants are English. There was hardly an Aussie to be seen in the crowd for the last two days of the Adelaide Test. American TV tennis coverage is rescheduled when US players have been knocked out.

Finally, I am proud that Rafael Nadal, great sportsman and human being, thinks that there was no better place to play tennis than here.

"The fans applaud you, even if you are playing a home player: something that you don't get in other countries," he said at Wimbledon.

Doctors' missed appointments

From: John Wilson, Wilsons Solicitors, New Road Side, Horsforth, Leeds,

I WAS amused by your headline "GPs to lead way in NHS changes" (Yorkshire Post, December 10).

I called the doctor the other day at about 8.30am. They were booked up for the day. Okay, I said, how about tomorrow? No, they said. They do not book in advance, only same day. So why is today already booked up this early? Apparently, it's because patients are forced to dash to the phone at 8am in a mad scramble to get in before the day gets booked up at about 8.01am. This is what passes for service. I suppose if you let nature take its course you might be cured or dead by 8am tomorrow, so presumably it keeps the numbers down.

First class mail

From: Michelle Catherall, Church Lane, Fylingthorpe, Whitby.

I LIVE in a rural area near Robin Hood's Bay and have only praise for our local postman. He has got through in all the atrocious weather without fail, as have the local shopkeeper and butchers and their suppliers.

The big letdown has been Arriva buses, as there have been no buses here for two weeks. They made a brief appearance for one day – and then the snow returned.

The buses who are managing to get through (on the same route) are the Esk Valley Coaches and Coastal and Country Coaches who valiantly struggle through unless it is absolutely impossible.

Blow to disabled

From: Mrs Michelle Wormald, Scotchman Lane, Morley, Leeds.

IN the Comprehensive Spending Review, the Chancellor announced that the Government would be removing the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for those people who live in residential care homes. Disability charities and organisations, such as Mencap, are campaigning against this decision. I believe the Government has misunderstood how disabled people use this important benefit. Without this vital lifeline, many disabled people in residential care will lose much of their independence.