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
No more building on our farmland
I am in complete agreement with Richard Mummery’s letter, 'New homes need to be affordable'.
We don't need expensive houses to attract even more people to the area; we need affordable starter homes and social housing built to a good standard. We need them for those who have grown up in our local towns and villages and wish to start their adult life by moving away from their parents into an affordable starter home of their own.
And yes, absolutely all new houses and buildings should be built with solar panels.
In particular, I agree with his comments about not building on any more farmland. It is irreplaceable.
Mr Mummery talks of growing up in what was once known as the Garden of England, as did I - a title that our county has held for over 400 years, but for how much longer?
Does anyone else remember the Blossom Tours, where coach parties of people paid to come and see all the blossom trees in our orchards - apples, cherries, plums, damsons, pears. Where are they all now? You can tell where many used to be by the names given to the new housing estates.
It would be lovely if the KM could show some pictures of our orchards in the Decades pages, to remind us of what we used to have. Kentish hops used to be famous, but you won't find many hop fields now.
Please don't build on any more of our beautiful fertile farmland. Once it's gone, it's gone. Actually, it seems as though most of it has already.
Older people are the ones who suffer
For decades the price increases for postage stamps were within reasonable limits.
Recently, the price of a single stamp has gone way beyond what's affordable.
As usual, it's the old people without internet that suffer the most.
You have to be very old now to remember the days when the post was efficient and reasonably priced. In those days the postie will have delivered to all the dwellings on his/her round before the occupants had left home for work or school. Now, if you're lucky, you will receive one mid-afternoon delivery every three to four days.
Likewise, energy firms are free to increase their standing charges for a second-rate service.
Once again, it's the old people who suffer. If their energy use is zero they still have to pay more.
Regular as clockwork, when the winds blow the power goes off together with the phone.
Perhaps we'll get a rebate for the hours the power went missing. Probably not.
People say to me "why don't you get a mobile phone"? My answer is: They cost a lot and need mains electricity (which has just failed) to charge them; I am not mobile, so why do I need a mobile phone?
Now then, where did I put those candles?
Signs everywhere of county in crisis
Yet again a buffoon from Kent County Council pronounces that savings must be made and put the county's libraries under threat.
Since 2010, it has been a chronicle of cutbacks, reductions and withdrawals from KCC.
Children's services were the first to be cut, especially in deprived areas. Bus services were cut while central government was granting KCC money to expand bus services. Special educational needs transport was turned into chaos when savings were made there and, of course, household waste recycling centres were put on the block.
Meanwhile, social care lurches from crisis to crisis, because of its mismanagement and lack of funding.
We now have unseemly haggling between the NHS and KCC, as patients who could be sent home are left in limbo because of a lack of a care plan.
Potholes, those lowly destroyers of car suspensions, tyres and wheels, lurk in even greater numbers.
Everywhere you look, there is evidence of 'Broken Britain' and 'Kent in crisis'.
Rwanda plan won’t stop smuggling gangs
Much as I agree with Sid Anning that immigration needs to be controlled, I cannot see any way that the Rwanda plan to ‘Stop The Boats’ is ever going to work.
The main purpose of the plan is to disrupt the business model of the people smugglers. But people smugglers are utterly ruthless. They could not care less about where those they smuggle end up.
Considering the appalling conditions immigrants are enduring in France just in the hope of getting here, they will take Rwanda over that anytime.
That is even more likely since the Supreme Court ruled that if they are sent to Rwanda, they cannot then be transferred to any country other than the UK, so they can easily be persuaded that Rwanda is just a transient stepping stone to eventually ending up here.
Given that, they could be flown to Rwanda where they then begin to make a right old nuisance of themselves; behaving so badly that Rwanda decides it doesn’t want them there and packs them off back to the UK.
However, there has now been an announcement that any UK government defiance of emergency injunctions would be a breach of international law, which I believe offers the Prime Minister a way out. He should take that statement as the opportunity to abandon the plan on the grounds that there are legal obstacles that will never be overcome.
He can ask the Rwandan government to return the money it has been paid, which the Rwandan Prime Minister said his government was prepared to do if the plan never comes into effect.
The money returned could be better spent by directing more resources to clearing the backlog; processing cases more quickly; deporting those who have no justification for being here, with arrangements similar to that already in place with Albania; significantly improved resourcing of border security and finding more places to house those here.
The number coming here has to be controlled, but the ways to do that have to be realistic and properly resourced. The Rwanda plan is not the answer and if the Prime Minister does not take the opportunity to abandon it he will always be associated with its failure.
Main parties have failed us
The British people have been betrayed by a dishonourable, witless political class, aided and abetted by incompetent and grasping bureaucrats.
Our defences have been neglected to the point where they are the weakest for centuries, while our industrial strength has been eroded to such an extent that we will soon be dependent on importing vital products such as steel from nations which are not our friends, and whom could cut them off at the drop of a hat. This all in the name of supposed financial advantage, ignoring strategic concerns and on the altar of the nonsensical policy of net zero.
The freedom of thought and speech, for which we fought the last war, is being suppressed, as people fear for their livelihoods if they dare to oppose the nostrums of the woke and many are fearful of the morons of social media.
The Conservatives stupidly appear to believe that tinkering with tax rates, plus dire warnings about voting for an alternative party, will win them reelection, while the main opposition parties are completely committed to identity politics, with leaders who are incapable of distinguishing between the biological reality of a man and a woman.
Yet the ultimate blame must lie with those who refuse to abandon parties which have so totally failed. We know that, despite all the insults to the views of the silent majority, they will still vote for the same old parties.
Car drivers targeted more than others
This year could be a general election year, but it is also the start year for the government's ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle) mandate.
This states that car/van manufacturers' sales must contain a certain amount of electric vehicles (EVs) or face fines of £15,000 per vehicle for non-compliant vehicles sold!
This year and rising every year, that percentage is 22%, rising to 33% in 2026 and 52% in 2028, leading to a total ‘cull’ in 2035.
This is going to change millions of people's lives over the coming decade, especially those that cannot ‘home-charge’ (because of living on a street with old-style Victorian terraced housing, flats, tower blocks, etc).
Other fossil fuel users aircraft, marine industries and the military are not hampered by such legislation and only we have to rely on their ‘goodwill’ for emissions reduction.
‘Electrification’ is just a smokescreen for getting people out of their cars - well, the less well-off ones, anyway!
War in Europe a real possibility
The BBC’s Question Time programme, hosted by Fiona Bruce and held in Gillingham last week, kicked off with debate amongst the guest panellists focused on the question: “Should we be preparing for another world war?”
It was sparked by the statement by the Army Chief, Sir Patrick Sanders, who urged our politicians to “take preparatory steps to enable placing our societies on a war footing”. He said there was a need to equip and train a “citizens’ army” in the event of a war with Russia, partly because the British Army is so small.
Fiona Bruce pointed out that with the aggression of Russia in Ukraine, an increasingly powerful China and conflict in the Middle East, there is a growing consensus that we are moving from a post-war world to a pre-war world.
I must say I found it very sobering viewing and the programme shook me out of my complacency in thinking that another war in Europe is inconceivable and into realising that it is a very real possibility. In the discussion amongst the panellists there was a consensus that a citizens’ army wasn’t a good idea but general agreement behind the point that we need more soldiers and we need to pay them more. When I Google-searched the figures I was astonished to find that the Army stands at just 76,000 personnel and only met its recruitment target because the government cut it to 73,000 in 2021, the smallest size it has been since 1714.
Appalling comments on mobility scooters
I have often enjoyed the reviews by Secret Drinker (although I am sometimes concerned and disappointed by his understanding of what a beer is).
I haven’t felt the need to comment until his recent article about the Hussar. His comment “scepticism about pubs with parked-up mobility scooters outside” has utterly appalled me.
Invisible disabilities are just as prevalent as visible ones and the fact he “never did find out who travelled to the pub on a scooter” - how would he, and indeed, why - and “I'm sure they are great for those who really need them, my scepticism stems from seeing so many folks skip off them” proves what an old fashioned mindset he has, and how damaging this kind of opinion is.
A mobility aid is used for just that - mobility. And, shocker here for SD, there are ambulatory wheelchair users - those of us who use some kind of mobility aid for a part of a journey to lessen the strain on our bodies.
Finding date of birth takes ages
The thing that bugs me most about getting older (I’m 84) is, when I’m completing forms/applications online, having to move so far down scrollable lists to find my year of birth - 1940!
It’s like rubbing salt into a wound!