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
Safe speed limits need to be enforced
20mph limits are like Marmite – love it or hate it.
Often the traffic is so congested that you can’t even get to 20mph. However, when the traffic thins out some drivers love to put their foot down, irrespective of the speed limit.
Here are some very good reasons why 20mph is the right option in towns and villages:
If a car hits a pedestrian at 30mph there is a 20% chance the pedestrian will be killed. This drops to 2.5% at 20 mph.
Reducing speed from 30mph to 20mph over half a mile adds just 30 seconds to the journey. If your time is that important just start your journey earlier.
Getting a vehicle to 30mph takes 2.25 times more fuel than getting it to 20mph.
Driving at 20mph results in 20% fewer casualties.
In 20mph zones, vehicles move more smoothly resulting in fewer particulate emissions.
The key for 20mph zones to work is that they need to be enforced with speed cameras, otherwise many drivers just ignore them.
I’m sure some petrolheads will challenge these statistics as they hate to be told they should drive more slowly.
A tent is better than living on streets
Former Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, had voiced her proposal to remove tents used by homeless people, and even said that for many, it was a 'lifestyle choice' to make their habitat on the streets.
That argument is preposterous to say the least, since people who find themselves in dire circumstances have no other choice but to sleep rough.
Fortunately, her scheme cannot be implemented since she no longer holds a position in Sunak's cabinet. Although the PM wasn't in favour of her plan and would have prevented it from being realised.
Personally, I think it is a commendable means of alleviating the discomfit of having to endure sleeping in shop doorways or car parks, providing as it does, some protection against wintry weather.
The charities who are instrumental in equipping homeless people with tents, are, in truth, making those unfortunates better able to cope with their living conditions.
Sunak governs with good business sense
It is easy to shout from the rooftops if something we expect to happen does not, but let’s be realistic.
Mr Sunak has been an effective Prime Minister who has given us the vital element of stability and the current problems are not his fault but are due to the foolish behaviour of the right-wing element within the Conservative Party.
He has helped pensioners and poorer families and is working to modernise the country’s governance. A change of government would be undesirable because that is precisely what the current argument is all about. We would suffer from the disintegration of the United Kingdom and an increase in strikes, government interference in industry and commerce, and chaos in the NHS (this is not just about money but serious mismanagement).
There would also be a lack of progress in modernising the state and an over-reliance on civil servants to keep the state functioning, without the input of the electorate. There would also be the danger of a “dumbing down” of Parliament, a decrease in the defence budget, a fuel shortage, an increase in inflation and political correctness.
Do we really we want to see this in exchange for good business sense? We should concentrate on improving everyone’s place in society and providing security and stability not just at home, but also making a contribution on the world stage.
Let us acknowledge the good which Mr Sunak has achieved to date and not vote for an increase in “envy politics”.
The Prime Minister had no option but to rein in the Home Secretary, and to bring Lord Cameron back into government was a brilliant move. We need quality politicians in government, not half-hearted “snowflakes”.
The Supreme Court Rwanda ruling was against unresolved issues and not the principle of what had been proposed, so, a minor setback.
Rare step in right direction by government
I must wholeheartedly thank Rishi Sunak for bringing former PM David Cameron back into government instead of Kent resident and poster boy for the right, Nigel Farage.
There were copious calls for the ex-UKIP leader to join the Tories, especially at the party conference. However, it now looks like he will wait until they are in opposition before he makes his move; the money on offer in Australia may have helped his decision though.
Some cynics may well say that this is like choosing Richard Nixon over Donald Trump but at least it is a step in the right direction, which lately the government have not been particularly adept at.
Pointless need to argue over everything
Back in the summer I went up to London to attend an event and spent the day sightseeing. As the sun set, I saw London light up, walking across London Bridge, past Westminster Square, around Trafalgar Square and The Mall, getting back to the hotel just after 11.30pm.
And let me tell you, not once did I see anyone getting stabbed, or mugged, or vandalising monuments or harassing women and ethnic minorities. I saw no one fighting or being abusive, just normal people going about their normal lives.
But according to some people, most notably those who are extremist and militant in nature, that doesn't happen. They see London as a warzone every day and they give in to their own fears.
Now, I'm not denying that bad things do happen, as we've been seeing over the last few weekends. However, there will always be those who chose to respond with sensationalism over perspective because they feel some kind of emotional need.
I have settled upon a more neutral stance - I see liberalism and conservatism as both having their strengths and weaknesses. I've become so weary of this fighting I just don't feel either way now, neither for not against in most cases.
They have their opinion, I have mine. If they are the same then that's fine, if not then so be it.
Don’t insult people if you don’t agree
It was with amusement that I read the letters from readers complaining about Colin Bullen – one suggesting that he should spare Kent readers his opinions and the other from a person who appears to only know the way to respond to people with whose views he does not agree, is to insult them.
Neither seems to be aware of the fact that by trying to dissuade Colin Bullen from airing his views they have done exactly what the newspaper requires of them – responded to him! The irony can only cause laughter.
I don’t agree with Colin Bullen’s views on climate change; I believe his religious faith is important to him, whereas I don’t have one, and I don’t like the often strident tone he displays in his letters, but I will never denigrate him or insult him, for airing them. In fact, I would say to him, keep on writing Colin, because your views are always newsworthy.
Appalled by what’s happened to our country
I’m sure Colin Bullen and myself make no apologies for being ‘Little Englanders’ if it’s suits R. Evans et al as we are just as entitled to an opinion as they are.
Both Colin and I are more than old enough to remember the socialist decade of the 70s, when our country was brought into chaos by the likes of Arthur Scargill and Red Robbo of British Leyland, with our rubbish piling up in the streets for weeks.
I vowed I would never want to see that again but once more it’s happening again with marches every weekend and the already well-paid public workers continually on strike for more money.
Our streets are full of gangs dealing drugs, with some knifing innocent young people just going about their business. This is not the country that I’m sure Colin Bullen and I wanted to see. We loved our country and its social standing in the world.
I’m sorry if R. Evans thinks that Colin’s and my letters are spite-filled but I believe that if you were to ask the majority of the people in our country they would feel the same as Colin and I do and are appalled at what is happening to our once wonderful country.
Tricky question when teaching about conflict
Colin Bullen wrote in relation to the Israeli-Hamas conflict that: ‘The corruption of our education system by virtue signalling left has convinced youngsters that Israel is some sort of totalitarian state intent on oppressing non-Jews’.
This led me to ask how are schools, in their teaching, dealing with the issues behind the conflict?
As a result, I discovered that in October the Government’s ‘Education Hub’ issued the document: ‘Israel-Hamas conflict: Advice for schools from Ministers’.
In this it recognised that recent events meant that teachers had been put in difficult positions in school; that children inevitably ask questions and share their opinions; that they may have been exposed to false or inappropriate information outside school which made the job of teachers even harder. It made a gratifying nod towards the professionalism of teachers.
It pointed teachers towards another document called ‘Political impartiality in schools’ which ran through schools’ legal duties. Its major weakness was that it was far too prescriptive and would have left teachers worrying about what they could and couldn’t do and would have led many of them to play safe and do nothing, since the subject of the conflict is optional rather than compulsory.
The reality is that across the country there is a generation of young people not learning about the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because schools are afraid of being accused of being accused of bias. There are also schools blocking efforts to introduce the subject, despite the active interest from pupils. This is often down to a combination of the amount of “heat” the topic draws and “bad publicity”.
The end result is that very little is going on in schools in relation to the conflict with only 27 schools in the country opting to study the GCSE History topic on the Middle East and I don’t blame the teachers.
As a retired head of history in a secondary school in Kent, I think that if I had gathered departmental colleagues together to ask the question: “Do we, at the moment, on top of everything else we have to do, introduce this topic into history curriculum?” The answer would have been, sadly, a unanimous “no”.
Poppy volunteers always welcome
Perhaps M. Smith (‘Hard to find a poppy this year’, letters) might be kind enough to volunteer to help our local British Legion next year to sell poppies.
Many of our volunteers are ageing and quite a few are disabled either from conflict or simply old age. Yet thousands of pounds is raised close to Remembrance Day.
It’s actually tremendous fun to do; lots of inspiring conversations with kindly donors who might give £1 or less or one chap who donated £60.
Don’t leave out deaf people at Christmas
Christmas is a time when families and friends look forward to getting together, but for the one in five adults with hearing loss, crowded dinner tables full of people laughing and shouting over each other can be a nightmare to follow. Not to mention softly-lit rooms and the blaring notes of Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.
You may have family or friends that struggle with hearing loss? Or perhaps you are the one who often feels left out of conversations? RNID’s Christmas Dinner Game was created to ensure that everyone at your dinner table can have fun together whilst being deaf aware to make sure that everybody feels included and no one misses that joke you’ve been practising!
Visit rnid.org.uk/game and we’ll send you a game pack in the post which will include everything you need to have a festive, fun filled dinner, at the same time as also learning a bit of BSL on the side.
This Christmas, let’s make sure no one is left out.
Teri Devine, Director of Inclusion and Employment at RNID