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Opinion: Housing, immigration, technology and public transport among topics tackled in letters to the KentOnline editor

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 letters@thekmgroup.co.uk

‘To get us out of our cars would require a complete remodelling of our world’
‘To get us out of our cars would require a complete remodelling of our world’

Improve rail travel to ease pressure on roads

One can travel around Kent and beyond with a degree of ease, which is advantageous.

But a few days ago it took me (with a couple of short breaks included) eleven and a half hours to travel by coach from Scarborough.

The main reason for this was congestion caused by poorly planned roadworks and the selfish driving of lorries blocking exits without thought.

The Enfield A10 route was particularly bad and we spent over two hours in gridlock, which was not amusing.

Is this really the way forward, I ask, as although the government has cancelled chunks of the HS2, the whole idea of a rapid train service from north to south just seems logical as the roads are not going to get better.

In my view cheap and affordable public transport, apart from being green, is really the only answer and schemes such as the HS! and HS2 seem to be part of the answer.

The problem is that the government is always looking at the bottom line, instead of looking upwards and this does not bode well for the future.

If we have a strong railway network then this will take the pressure off of the roads, which are already at breaking point.

As I have previously noted we enjoy good railway connections and, apart from the damage caused by the malignant unions, it can be relied on most of the time.

Stuart Miller Osborne

We can’t live in the past on housing

Ralph A. Tebbutt takes issue with my suggested solution to providing new homes in the countryside (letters last week) and suggests that I was calling for small scale housing estates that would lead to the destruction of the rural environment.

Wittingly or unwittingly he totally misrepresents what I wrote, specifically I said "the key is small scale, not housing estates ...". Mr Tebbutt's solution to the housing crisis is obviously to cram everything into towns, as is favoured by the government, but many towns have run out of "brownfield land" that can be redeveloped and that leaves only the option of extending the outskirts.

To safeguard the total countryside this then ruins the environment of towns which become huge soul-less urban sprawls losing all their individual identity. There has to be a better way and part of that better way could see some limited development in the countryside or at existing villages and hamlets; again the key is to keep it small and in scale, that way any visual impact will be limited and local opposition muted.

Demonising the car helps nobody, government policy has for years under both parties been anti-car. Has it worked? No, we value our personal freedoms too much. We are British after all and freedom matters, even small freedoms like car ownership and the right to go where we please.

We accept sensible restrictions on our freedoms but not draconian ones and to get us out of our cars would require a complete remodelling of our world to create some kind of utopian state.

Experience tells us that clean cut utopian states eventually have to rely on coercion to make the proletariat do what their leaders feel is best for them and I don't think any free-born Briton would want that.

In some ways I feel that Mr Tebbutt harks back to a kinder, gentler world, with people using local shops and services, walking everywhere, but that world went years ago when Mr Tebbutt and I were much younger men; through rosy tinted specs we can look back on an era before big out of town supermarkets, but of course there were a lot less people then, so towns were smaller.

There is no going back, it is great to have those memories but that is what they will remain, we cannot reinvigorate the past.

Bob Britnell

We can’t live in the past on housing, says one reader. Picture: iStock
We can’t live in the past on housing, says one reader. Picture: iStock

Taxing question over state pension

Concerning the impending general election, I am reluctant to support a party that has introduced me to paying tax on my state pension.

In 1971, the Conservatives introduced an incentive that for every extra £1 paid to National Insurance over the required basic amount, 6p (2.5p) would be added to the state retirement pension.

Although I was advised later that my SERPS payment could be paid into a private pension fund, my estimation was that my pension would grow sufficiently, enabling myself to live in retirement.

Unfortunately, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has reluctantly decided not to increase the personal tax allowance for two successive years, leaving an excess amount of £2,309.8 subject to 20% tax - £461.96.

Although I have spoken to the DWP, they have confirmed that they do not deduct tax at source, leaving myself with an impending bill being received by HMRC.

Another little known fact is the £10 Christmas Bonus awarded in 1971, is now worth £165.36. Had I invested my SERPS into an overseas investment company, then my returns would have not only been greater, but also taxable at only 23%.

Brian Collins

Reform needed to root out BBC prejudice

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Queen Gertrude has a famous line “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”, to express her doubts about another’s sincerity, and this charge can be laid at the door of the BBC.

Not content with persuading one of its veteran broadcasters to invite ridicule by emphasising his perplexing belief that the channel does not spin stories, it has created a risible department, supposedly tasked with checking facts, called ‘Verify’.

The reality is that this is merely a smokescreen, attempting to obscure the blatant prejudice displayed by so many of its commentators, and reports which are totally biased. The gutless response to constant provocations from the likes of Lineker, and some of its anti-semitic employees in its Middle Eastern section, are proof of this.

In the past few years we have seen the BBC openly side with Remainers over Brexit, declare that no one who dares to question the theory of climate change is to be given air time, as “the science is certain”, allow the lunatics of woke to run riot in censoring programmes which dispute their insanities, and now clearly, thanks to antisemitism, sympathising with the terrorists of Hamas, against Israel, albeit it under the cloak of caring for human rights.

Only this week we learnt that an episode of Yes, Prime Minister has been removed from broadcast because “it mentioned Israel”, while previously censorship has been applied to much-loved series such as Fawlty Towers.

Our national broadcaster has become a disgrace, unpatriotic and ridden with the views of the humourless far left, and the liberal angst of the arrogant middle-class woke.

It needs root and branch reform, with a total clear out of useless managers, politically prejudiced staff and ignorant so-called personalities.

Colin Bullen

We see boats full of men arriving on our shores, but where are all the women? Pic: NCA
We see boats full of men arriving on our shores, but where are all the women? Pic: NCA

What happens to the women left behind?

Whenever I see the small boats on the news laden with refugees arriving on our shores, presumably fleeing from war-torn countries, they're usually composed of young, healthy-looking men showing no visible signs of being through the ravages of conflict.

I can't help but ask myself, why have they deserted their female relatives to escape to another nation to procure their own safety, thus disregarding the well-being of the women folk they've left behind?

I would reason that these are not the sort of people one would like to assimilate into British society.

M. Smith

Parties do not wish to curb immigration

I have always been suspicious of the government’s unwillingness to stop illegal immigration and have considered the Rwanda scheme a red herring to keep voters on side.

But here we are after 14 years of Conservative government, we still have illegal immigrants on boats and lorries and zero being repatriated, apart from Albanians.

The rabbit was pulled out of the hat when it was announced that 16,000 homes have been given to immigrants. Many poor people are sleeping out in the streets and their children still residing at home because they cannot afford a home. The Home Office’s priorities are elsewhere, ably supported by the bishops and their lordships who would rather be seen dead than put some poor unfortunate migrant in their spacious homes.

The Conservatives have shown their real colours and that they have little or no interest in curbing immigration whatsoever and don’t let them kid you otherwise. I will never vote for a Conservative government again, and there is no way will I vote for Labour either, as they have no intentions of doing anything to control immigration either.

Sid Anning

Have today’s children become too dependent on technology?Pictures: iStock
Have today’s children become too dependent on technology?Pictures: iStock

Slaves to our own creations

The only evidence of telecommunications in my grandmother's house was with the pages of the telephone directory hung on string by the outside toilet for a very personal human communication.

We seemed to get much enjoyment and creative activity from the cardboard boxes any goods were packaged in and the homemade go-carts needed no batteries.

Now the children of today rip the package off the new piece of tech which has been delivered to them and spend hours on preselected games on those devices, ruining their eyes and dulling their creative abilities.

It seems handwriting skills will soon be a thing of the past and all they will need is to recognise the icons to enable them to access whatever it is they find indispensable.

Finally I am not a robot, or maybe I am. Most of the time I am in a great deal of distress wondering what awaits our children and grandchildren and human generations to come.

I deplore our increasing dependency, not to say enslavement, to that which we have created.

A. Bacon

Farcical result of powerful unions

As an assistant purser aboard a passenger/cargo liner in 1960, which provided a regular bi-monthly service between London's Royal Albert Dock and East Africa, I frequently experienced the farcical situations that resulted from the pernicious scourge of job demarcation - then rigidly enforced by the militant trade unions.

On one occasion, minutes after we had departed our berth in the Albert Dock, it was discovered that there was a serious problem with the plumbing in the captain's quarters.

Due to job demarcation, the ship's own engineers were not permitted to deal with the problem until a day later, after we had left UK waters.

As a result we had to put in a request for a shore-based plumber to join the ship, carry out the necessary work and leave the ship at Brixham.

It fell to me to take him to the captain's quarters. On entering the bathroom to get to work on the problem, the plumber shook his head, tutted and, pointing at the decorative wooden framework that hid the pipework, said "Sorry mate, I can't get to work until that panelling is removed - and that's a carpenter's job, I can't touch it".

My offer to call the ship's carpenter to undo the few screws holding the woodwork in place was met with a frosty glare.

So yes, we had to send for a shoreside carpenter, who joined the ship by launch as we passed Tilbury.

On arrival he undid half a dozen screws, and then spent the next few hours relaxing until the plumber had finished his work, when he duly took out his screwdriver and replaced the panelling!

The pair were allocated a cabin, enjoyed a fine dinner and generally enjoyed all the amenities the ship offered until they left at Brixham the following day!

As unbelievable as this episode may seem, it really was the way things were in the days before the unions were tamed. If Starmer and his union paymasters get in, this could happen again.

Robert Readman

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