Our readers from across the county give their weekly take on the biggest issues impacting Kent and beyond.
Some letters refer to past correspondence which can be found by clicking here. Join the debate by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
What happened to our ‘great leisure age’?
I tend to take nearly every utterance from the ultra-wealthy with a very large pinch of salt.
Elon Musk saying we shall all be paid to do nothing thanks to AI is certainly no exception. Rishi Sunak's agreement is likewise uninspiring.
Back in the late 70s we heard from TV programmes, including Tomorrow's World, and read news articles predicting the appearance of a great leisure age shortly.
Readers do not need me to tell them that it never happened. We are now working longer hours, often in continuous communication with the hierarchy; we have less security in employment and zero hours contracts appear to be on the increase.
On top of this we have witnessed the demise of final salary pension schemes and government ministers voicing their preference for state pension age to rise to 70. Not much leisure time then if you work until you die!
If people believe a glorious future awaits us with AI then they are either very rich already or very gullible.
Population growth puts strain on resources
How much I agree with your correspondent about “overpopulation” but it is sadly a much greater problem than that which affects us locally.
The UK population is now more than 67 million which is the biggest it has ever been; in 1950 it was 50 million and it is estimated it will pass 70 million in 2025.
We live in one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world and with no end to population growth in sight, pressure on wildlife, housing, public services and resources will continue to grow. England is the most overcrowded large nation in Europe.
With a general election on the agenda, perhaps these questions should be asked.
Hard to find a poppy this year
This Remembrance Day has come and gone but I shall remember it for being the only time I didn't wear a poppy, since I couldn't find anyone or any place selling them.
Even when I passed people in the street, no one I saw was wearing the distinctive flower pinned on their chests.
I was looking forward to obtaining the new paper version which is made from recycled paper with about 50% of the paper coming from discarded coffee cups.
The poppy was inspired by the poem 'In Flanders Fields,' written by Lieut Col John McCrae, who saw the flowers among the graves of fallen soldiers.
Although I was spared the usual circumstance that befell me whenever I went anywhere with the poppy secured to my chest.
By the time I reached home it would have somehow vanished, no doubt fallen from my person during the course of my wandering. And being so light, it could hardly land with a thump to alert me to its loss.
Maybe next year I'll have the satisfaction of wearing one.
Wise move to bring pupil transport in-house
Well done Cllr Antony Hook for the sensible idea of bringing the transport of Special Educational Needs (SEN) pupils in-house to Kent County Council.
It is always cheaper for any organisation to have services in-house.
Cllr Rory Love is wrong when he says that KCC would be looking for the same drivers as taxi firms to staff such a service. KCC would provide staff trained to a professional standard.
Taxi driving is an occupation, not a profession. Cllr Love also puts forward the idea of schools running their own service and states “where that has been trialled it has been quite beneficial”. He does not however give any examples of this.
Let us hope therefore that KCC listens to the wisdom of Cllr Hook and ignores Cllr Love.
Police row overshadowed Armistice Day
I think we should all be worried about the future of democracy in this country when the holder of one of the greatest offices of state, that of Home Secretary, attempts to influence the decisions made by its most powerful police officer, that of the Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis.
One of the foundation stones of our democracy is the separation of power between politics and the forces of law and order - between Westminster politicians and senior police officers.
It is well known that before the pro-Palestinian march of 300,000 protestors in London on Armistice Day this weekend, inspired by the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, Suella Braverman was locked in a standoff with Mark Rowley. She wanted the march called off and he said he couldn’t do it. What should have been a moment for Britons to come together and honour the sacrifice of their war dead, became an incident of violent disorder involving serious attacks on police officers.
What a sad weekend it was when Britain, in harmony, should have been remembering those who gave their lives in defence of the sacred right to protest and exercise freedom of speech, but was forced to witness this moment of politically-driven strife.
Let us all hope that this has been a one-off caused by one uncontrolled, maverick minister and is not an omen of the shape of things to come.
All people deserve peace and freedom
Why is it that those few people who think, believe and write that our human species is basically good rather than evil, are so denigrated?
From comments by Suella Braverman describing pro-Palestine protestors as “hate marchers” to similar comments in letters, this appears to be the only response against those who seek an end to war.
The same logic is applied to other problems such as the need for homes.
What is not questioned is the fundamental cause of these problems.
There is a simple, undeniable fact, that everyone on this earth has an equal right to live where they wish.
Many of those who suffered in the concentration camps wanted to live in Europe where they had been born but this was denied them.
The horrors of the Second World War could have been prevented had our politicians acted differently at the end of “the war to end wars”.
Had we acted differently to the Russian Revolution, to the situation developing in Germany between the wars and to the Spanish Civil War.
The structures of society have to be so ordered that they encourage the good that is in humanity.
That means that we have to to recognise that peace and freedom for some is only possible if we have peace and freedom for everyone.
At the root of all the many wars around the globe, at the present time, is the aim of certain countries, including our own, to dominate other countries.
Ralph A. Tebbutt
Hamas supporters a disgrace to our country
Clearly John Helm has swallowed anti-Israeli propaganda whole.
Those yelling their support for Hamas, many of whom are from the hard left, and organisations which like to pretend that they are so progressive, are in fact not only applauding the murder of babies, but are aligning themselves with an organisation which is racist, sexist and homophobic, and whose leaders have frequently rejected offers of peace, and the creation of a separate Palestinian state, so intent are they on killing Jewish people.
How many more provocations are decent people to endure before our political class takes firm action? Quite apart from Hamas supporters parading in our streets we now find tube trains invaded, and that travellers must put up with propaganda being shouted into their faces, while our cultural icons and values are treated with contempt.
The corruption of our education system by the virtue signalling left has convinced youngsters that Israel is some sort of totalitarian state, intent on oppressing non-Jews, when the truth is that 20% of the population is Arab, nearly all of whom are Muslims, and that many of the latter hold senior positions in the government and supreme court. Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East, yet the ignoramuses who demand its destruction prefer the despotic regimes which surround it.
The Conservatives wring their hands, but do nothing effective to stop these outrages taking place in our cities, while the parties of opposition are ridden with those whose antisemitism is becoming more evident every day. It is a disgrace and blackens the reputation of the UK among those who still believe in freedom.
I see Colin Bullen has raised his sights and gone national - I believe I saw his letter on AI in a national newspaper this Monday.
Why am I not surprised it was the Daily Mail? The Mail must have savagely edited his letter as it was a fraction of the length of those seen (almost) weekly here and I fervently hope the KM will follow suit.
On the plus side, Mr Bullen might switch his attention and his opinions to other newspapers and give Kent a break.
More actions needed on consumer rights
Why does consumer protection in this country compare so unfavourably to that in other developed jurisdictions?
When egregious issues - such as Section 21 evictions, leasehold agreements, shoddy new builds etc. - are raised, the government promises remedial action but then does nothing. We have a Consumer Rights Act but there is no enforcement.
The Competition and Markets Authority is empowered to invalidate unfair terms in contracts but it has done nothing about the unfair, mid-term, price increases of 4% above inflation (with no right of cancellation) in telecom contracts. Also, in a time of sky-rocketing inflation, the price at a supermarket till can often be higher than that marked on the shelf.
Such problems have already been successfully addressed elsewhere. For example, in Quebec, if a tenant refuses a notice of eviction or a rent increase, the landlord has to apply to a rental board for its approval. This has not stifled the rental sector and a large proportion of Quebecers are renters. The miss-pricing issue in shops has also been neatly addressed. Supermarkets provide barcode readers for the public to check prices and if you are charged at the till more than the advertised price the item is free - up to a maximum discount value of $10. This gives a clear incentive for shops to ensure accurate pricing and rewards consumers for monitoring compliance.
There is no need to reinvent the wheel and it would be a simple matter to implement the best practices from elsewhere. However, it appears that none of our political parties are prepared to address this issue.