Dear Editor, Since 2005 household debt has continued to increase across the UK, with total consumer debt now standing at over a staggering one trillion pounds. Low income families are struggling to cope with soaring bills as the cost of food, fuel and housing are running well ahead of official inflation figures. Take home pay for the lowest paid has fallen in recent years, and the decision to abolish the 10p rate of income tax has hit those at the bottom of the income scale the hardest.
It is therefore staggering that, against this backdrop, the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform has taken the stunning decision to cut funding for debt advisory services across the country. The Government has demanded a 19.5 per cent cut in the budget for providing debt advice, which is translating into the loss of 60 specialist debt advisors nationally. Here in North Warwickshire, the Citizens Advice Bureau based in Atherstone is facing a 50 per cent cut in specialist debt advisors at a time when the number of people calling the CAB with debt problems has doubled since 2005.
I find it hard to express how gobsmacked I am at this decision. It is astonishing. You couldn't make it up. The cost of living is out of control, real incomes are falling, house repossessions are rising and instead of helping the Government is once again part of the problem.
What planet are these ministers on? They tell us that inflation is low, but I don't know where they do their shopping. Here in the real world the cost of food is up 7 per cent, housing costs are up 8 per cent and petrol up a whopping 19 per cent. Brown and Darling are living in a fantasy world that no one outside the New Labour champagne bubble recognises.
The sad fact is, the Government is desperate for cash because they've squandered the good years. People are entitled to ask a few simple questions. My taxes keep going up, so where has all the money gone? We've just had ten years of global growth, so why is the Government borrowing a staggering £100 billion more than Gordon Brown said he would? Why are we entering an economic downturn with the highest debt and the highest taxes in Britain's history?
Come on Gordon - it's time for another U-Turn. The people of North Warwickshire, and of Britain, deserve better than this.
Conservative Prospective, Parliamentary Candidate, North Warwickshire & Bedworth
A blooming success
Dear Editor, As a Marie Curie Nurse, I know just how important the fundraising efforts of local communities are in supporting our vital work.
That's why I wanted to thank all of your readers who have supported Marie Curie Cancer Care recently at their local Tesco.
Great Daffodil Appeal collections, supported by Yellow Pages, were held at Tesco stores on February 29 and March 1 and an amazing £519,000 was raised - the most successful collection ever held at Tesco.
Tesco staff and customers have also been raising money by holding a wide range of fundraising events and by purchasing selected products, such as daffodils or greeting cards, where a donation comes directly to the charity.
The money raised by your read-ers will allow Marie Curie Nurses like me to provide additional nursing care to terminally ill patients, giving them the choice to die at home supported by the people they love.
Marie Curie Nurse of the Year
Running for charity
Dear Editor, We, the Meningitis Trust, are looking to fill our guaranteed places for the Bank of America Chicago and Real, - Berlin marathons, both taking place later this year. These events provide the ideal challenge for people hoping to achieve something impressive before the year is up.
By joining the Meningitis Trust's team of runners, participants will be raising vital sponsorship and helping people in the UK who are struggling to cope with the impact of meningitis.
" The Bank of America Chicago marathon takes place on 12 October and is renowned as being one of the fastest courses in the world. Its flat, city landscape and cool fall climate make it an attractive route for all runners.
" If you'd prefer a more historical backdrop to your run, The Real, -Berlin marathon on 28 September could be for you. Another flat route; this race takes runners past some of Berlin's notable landmarks and even through the Brandenburg Gate.
We will provide all the support required before, during and after the challenge; including full training, dietary and fundraising advice. To secure one of the guaranteed places, all we need is £50 registration fee and a pledge to raise the minimum sponsor-ship. As we are not linked to a tour operator, people have the freedom to tailor their trip to suit them, meaning they can stay as long as they like!
Registering couldn't be easier, simply call 0845 120 4530 for a free information pack or visit http://www.meningitis-trust.org
The Meningitis Trust
Paying for the BBC little by little
Dear Editor, Douglas J Wathern writes (Post, May 6) that we have no choice but to pay the BBC fee. This is incorrect. If you choose not to have a television receiver, you do not have to buy a television licence.
A side effect of this is that you can listen to BBC radio free of charge. However, even without a TV, you will continue to pay, little by little, for commercial television and radio every time you purchase any product or service, or patronise any company, bank or service provider, that has ever been advertised on the commercial networks. Their advertising budget is all part of the ultimate cost to the consumer. Try avoiding every single one of those, Mr Wathen.
Mr T J HEWITT
Try working with the council
Dear Editor, What is the point of the Birmingham Victorian Society, other than seemingly to oppose any type of modern development anywhere in the city?
The 35-storey tower proposed by British Land at the corner of Colmore Row and Newhall Street is fare easier on the eye than the existing NatWest Tower, which quite rightly in my opinion has been described as one of the ugliest buildings in Birmingham. The illustration you featured (Post, April 29) shows that British Land has taken account of sensitivities about this site in its discussions with council planners and has produced something which, while modern and striking, blends in at its lower levels with surrounding Victorian buildings.
You are right to make the point that the city centre cannot be preserved in a time capsule. The British Land tower is certainly radical but so, too, was the Town Hall when it was built at the beginning of the 19th century. And when the Council House came along 70-odd years later, were there people objecting because it would not blend in with the neo-classical architecture of the Town Hall?
The Victorian Society should learn a lesson from the Birmingham Civic Society, which has been working with the council to ensure the best possible design for this important Colmore Row site.
Who wins on a technicality?
Dear Editor, No doubt Andrew Flintoff was delighted to have his alleged 87 mph speeding in a 50 mph zone 'disposed of' as his lawyer put it. And no doubt his Lawyer, Nick 'Loophole' Freeman, is equally chuffed to have won the case on a technicality - the notice being sent too late.
I wonder if the many thousands of people whose friends and relatives have died because of speeding motorists will feel rather differently.