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Opinion: Transport to school, the Rwanda plan, knife crime and sickness benefits debated 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

‘Unless a school is within reasonable distance of a child's home, that child should be able to access vehicular transport’
‘Unless a school is within reasonable distance of a child's home, that child should be able to access vehicular transport’

Most children need transport to school

Gone are the days when children were able to walk around the corner to their school.

Many schools have been closed, families live in sprawling new estates, miles from the nearest school and other children live in remote rural areas.

When they arrive at school, children need to be fresh and alert, not soaked to the skin, frozen to the marrow, buffeted by the gales, suffering from heat exhaustion or simply exhausted.

Unless a school is within reasonable distance of a child's home, that child should be able to access vehicular transport. There is plenty of opportunity for exercise whilst at school or at home.

I benefited from free school transport throughout my time at school. No doubt Mr Rhodes walked 10 miles, barefoot, in all weathers to school. May I gently remind him that we have moved on since those days. It is obvious that he is one of those luddites who would prefer the roads to be used only by pedestrians, cyclists or horse-drawn conveyances.

Children deserve the best we can give them. If the county needs to save money, it should cease the ridiculous practice of giving bus passes to old fogeys who do not need to be gadding about all the time.

It has a duty to invest in young people. The future of the country depends on them.

Miss V. Hemlsey-Flint

Get tough to stop shift to lawlessness

Knife crime is to the UK what mass shootings are to the USA.

Barely a day goes by without news of yet another (more often than not a child or teenager) being stabbed to death or wounded - sadly, all to often by another child or teenager.

Our lawmakers must stop pussyfooting around the issue and enact draconian legislation to put an end to this senselessness.

Firstly, make the carrying of a bladed weapon, whether or not it has been used in a crime, punishable with an automatic minimum of six months behind bars - no ‘warnings’ for a first offence, no appeal, no opportunity for early release and no withholding of offenders’ names - however young they may be.

If used in a crime, the mandatory, automatic minimum sentence would be five years again, with no chance of appeal or early release.

Much has been made of the fact that in the UK we have recently enacted online safety laws, so let’s start enforcing them. Any e-commerce website or social media website that allows bladed weapons, or weapons of any kind, to be offered for sale - or even featured - must be hit with, in the first instance a minimum fine of £5 million. Failure to pay and take down such illegal content should lead to closure of the offending site for a minimum of five years.

Indeed we should go further and, if it can be proved that the weapon used in a killing was bought from any such website, or other retail outlet, the chief executives of the site, or shop owner, should be charged as accessories to murder.

We like to think of ourselves as a civilised country. Sadly that is not the case; increasingly we are seeing our society taken over by the law of the jungle - not only expressed in the horrendous increase in knife crime but the lawlessness of illegal protesters who abuse the right to freedom of speech.

Bob Readman

New homes need infrastructure

In reply to Mr Britnell’s letter speaking for people who need homes, I am reminded of Mumbai which years ago cleared its slums and sent the inhabitants to the suburbs to live.

Certainly homes for all instead of shanty towns but… no work out there, no infrastructure, no shops , no schools. So commuting was the only way to live but they had no money because they had no work.

Where does Mr Britnell think these people who apparently need homes will find jobs; where will they send their children to school where there are none that are not crowded enough; how will they drive anywhere without clogging up already clogged roads, etc?

They’ll do it in areas where there once were trees essential to the well-being of a planet already struggling, creating pollution that he dismisses out of hand as if it were an irrelevance.

Valerie Wharton

Universities are packed with ignorant bigots

The disgusting behaviour by students on university campuses in America, and now, as always, being emulated in the UK, clearly illustrate the manner in which our education systems have been undermined as a result of their infiltration by extreme left wing activists.

When I was of an age to attend university in the 1960s, students were frequently demonstrating about various political matters but always on the side of genuinely liberal values. Their descendants are now protesting on behalf of the very opposite, as they march in support of terrorists.

Obviously many of those involved are motivated by antisemitism, while interviews with others shows that in reality they have no idea of the facts of the Middle East, merely mouthing slogans devised by the former. Individual students have repeated the old canards about Jewish people controlling the world.

That the universities are now awash with ignorant bigots is largely due to the brainwashing to which they have been subjected at schools, where politically motivated extremists have been allowed to fill their minds with irrational absurdities, while objective historical facts are ignored.

That the universities are producing graduates with basically useless degrees, and distorted views of reality, shows that it is time for a complete root and branch reform as, while we do need those such as future scientists, doctors, dentists, and engineers, we do not need massive numbers of arts graduates, whose belief that they are entitled to well-paid positions is now further undermined by the warped ideology they have been taught to believe.

Worthless courses should be scrapped and the number of universities drastically reduced.

Colin Bullen

‘It’s all very well decrying the Rwanda plan when you have offered no alternative to this plan other than open up the doors up to all-comers’ Picture: NCA
‘It’s all very well decrying the Rwanda plan when you have offered no alternative to this plan other than open up the doors up to all-comers’ Picture: NCA

Rwanda plan aims to be a deterrent

I do think John Cooper is missing the whole point about the Rwanda scheme. Yes, it is highly expensive but so is giving free housing/hotels, benefits and everything else to illegal immigrants.

The whole point of the Rwanda plan is a deterrent and, as we see already, migrants are going to ground, with many now starting to make their way to Ireland.

John talks about our democracy like a sacred cow but the immigrants are not applying for sanctuary or visas in the normal way and are trying to circumvent our laws. So why should they have the privilege of legal aid and the courts when they have avoided the normal channels? Please don’t insult my intelligence that these people are escaping persecution when they could have settled in France or half a dozen or more free countries they came through.

The biggest group of migrants wanting to come to Britain are those from Vietnam. It tells you something about our welfare system when some are prepared to travel halfway around the world for a piece of the cake. Now we are being told that we cannot send the refugees back to Vietnam as it’s an unsafe country, so why are thousands of British people enjoying the delights of Vietnam by going there on holiday?

It’s all very well decrying the Rwanda plan when you have offered no alternative to this plan other than open up the doors up to all-comers with the devastating affects it will have on the local community.

The man that walks ashore say at Dungeness from the RNLI lifeboat has intentions of not remaining on his own, but wants his wife and family with him.

We simply cannot continue to take the thousands of people who want a ‘better life’ to come here as then we won’t have a better life ourselves and our way of life is deteriorating because of it.

Sid Anning

Don’t vilify the vulnerable for political gain

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Mel Stride, has managed to demean those suffering from work-related stress, depression and other mental illnesses by implying they are just feeling a little 'bluesy' and are suffering the 'normal ups and downs of life'.

He has managed to insult doctors by accusing them of 'over-medicalising' normal worries as mental health conditions. He has implied they are guilty of box-ticking by saying those 'feeling a little bit depressed' are not capable of work, thus suggesting GPs are signing people off work unnecessarily. He says we should have a 'grown-up conversation' about the issues.

Dan Poulter, a doctor, psychiatrist, ex-health minister and Conservative MP for 14 years has just resigned from the Tory Party and joined Labour. He said the health service has ceased to be an area of priority for the Conservatives.

Vilifying the vulnerable and those suffering from mental illness, seemingly for political purposes, is not a 'grown-up conversation'.

A grown-up conversation should be about reducing the poverty and destitution which causes the very mental health problems Mel Stride appears to demean. It should be about reducing the 7.6 million people on the NHS waiting list. It should be about reducing the 1.9 million people waiting for mental health services.

Michael Baldwin

Risks of cutting sickness benefits

The Prime Minister has proposed to reduce the spiralling costs of ''sick note" benefits.

There are currently reputed to be more than two and a half million people who are not working due to health issues. This has led to concerns about the impact on the economy and the strains imposed on the NHS and welfare spending if the nation's health doesn't improve.

Imposing such a scheme would put at risk those who are unable to work but being pressurised into returning to the workplace regardless of their capacity to engage in full employment.

Of course, there will always be those intent on playing the benefit system who have no prescribed illness but are simply feckless and workshy.

Trying to detect and set apart those in genuine need of support from those who are able-bodied but hide their reluctance to work by producing a sick note, will, no doubt, be an arduous task.

The worry is, that in the zealous approach to reducing the number of claimants, there will inevitably be those who are erroneously assessed.

Michael Smith

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