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Sunday 14 February 2010

Sixteen year olds to get the vote? Whoever suggested such a thing must have links to some very high-crust school where students are engaged in serious study and debate. The only sixteen year olds I have contact with are 'normal'(?) irresponsible, strongly vocal - but not in any considered sense - kids floundering with self-conscious incipient maturity. Any vote they chose to make would be a rebellious and provocative swipe at authority, without any depth of consideration. Why should it be otherwise? At sixteen they are only just beginning to look at life in any way other than a party at anyone else's expense. No. Let them grow up in due time, and leave the vote as it is - or, if anything - raise it back to 21.

I would have no objection to giving prisoners the vote. Some would abuse the right, but that can happen in society as a whole. At least prisoners are paying a price for their crimes. An awful lot of citizens have committed worse, and are still free.

Chris Russell

Apart from the obvious bad judgement in the Iraq invasion and the world wide recession - I think we are better off with Labour. Look what they have done to improve the NHS. Stop and wonder at the new Kings Mill Hospital (pull in first off the A38!)

I did write to Geoff Hoon when he tried to stab Gordon Brown in the back with one line!

Et tu Brutus!

Gerry Molumby, Selston, Geoff Hoon constituent

In my opinion Professor Cowley is absolutely right. There appear to be no depths politicians of all shades are prepared to descend to in the grubby game of vote getting. If politicians as a whole set a rather better moral example to the young rather than further devalue almost all their meaningful experiences then perhaps this country would be a somewhat less broken society.

Richard Chamberlain. SE Derbyshire

Geoff Hoon: Good riddance. I am sure the local party won't miss him.

Teenagers: No representation without taxation. The professor is right the world has gone mad.

Prisoners: If EU legislation says prisoners should have the vote that is merely another reason to be out of the EU. Criminals give up equal rights when convicted.

Jamie Bye

Sunday 7 February 2010

I think that when considering the punishment, the core consideration should be the level of intent on the part of the perpetrator, rather than the emotive consideration of the outcome of the crime.

I'm afraid this goes against the wishes of those who think a minimum of ten years should be imposed on a driver who causes death by dangerous driving. Appalling though the consequences are, I'm sure that in most cases there was no intention to cause death. Rather, there was a totally reckless disregard of other road users. There should be punishment sufficient to 'punish', and sufficient to be a warning to all drivers; but this should not equate to the punishment that should be meted out to those who go out with the intention to kill or maim. I'm sure there are many cases where otherwise decent people have, purely by a stroke of luck, escaped causing death; and without this they, too, could have faced a lengthy term in jail with hardened criminals.

Chris Russell

Sunday 31 January 2010

I believe a badger cull should be carried out on the evidence available. This is just too important a matter to be left to chance.

Richard Chamberlain. South East Derbyshire

Culling badgers is a waste of time since new groups will simply move in from elsewhere to take over the vacated territory

Famers know this - they are ,just too tight fisted to take proper precautions and besides many of them like shooting things or perhaps they see letting out the shooting rights as a nice little earner if they don't.

Edward Wheatley, Norfolk

There appears to be good evidence that the disease is transmitted by badgers so in the absence of an alternative, i.e. vaccination, culling seems the most appropriate way forward.

Jamie Bye

Culling badgers has no part to play in tackling bovine TB. Time and time again it has been proven that culling badgers is impractical, extemely expensive, unethical and unsustainable. We need to look at a preventative approach to tackling bovine TB and stop using badgers as a scapegoat.

Beth Hewis, Nottingham Green Party

Sunday 22 November 2009

Regarding spending cuts, the social divide in this country should cause shame and embarrassment to the Government. Something simply must be done to redress this; but in the meantime Government and councils need to find funds to help the low paid, the unemployed, the students, and all who are struggling to make ends meet. The first area cuts can be made is in public sector offices.

I'm not talking about front line services, but in general administration - there is still a lot of saving that could be done here. And if they haven't already done so, councils must immediately stop recruiting 'consultants'. There are always existing staff with talent and initiative. Use them. How often have we seen reports by the so-called experts which conclude what we common folk have known all along? Also, at least until the country's finances are more healthy, councils should cancel trips abroad, e.g. relating to 'twinning' projects, etc, and cut their social spending.

Regarding the lack of 'affordable housing', the biggest problem (apart from the Government having allowed uncontrolled immigration from the EU countries) is that the cost of renting is far too high, and the Government needs to effect some form of control over this. Those who can't afford to buy a property should be able to rent at a reasonable price.

The trouble is that those with 'some' money are buying up all the houses, forcing the prices up, and then charging a ridiculous rent in order to pay their mortgages. There should be a ban on 'buy to let', such that house prices find their correct market level, and the less well off can pay towards their own mortgage rather than feathering the nests of those who are lucky enough to be able to pay the initial deposits for several homes. By all means let the wealthy buy outright and then rent out at a reasonable price.

Thank you.

Chris Russell (Mrs)"

Sunday 01 November 2009

There would be more engagement with politics if people felt it was their views being heard and not just the tired old ideas recycled. Let us have proper debate but perhaps with the young branches of parties doing the talking.

Regarding disillusioned teenagers, it is not for politicians, and community workers to sort out family problems but the parents should take more responsibility for the feckless, reckless behaviour of their offspring and if that means penalties for the parents so be it.

Jamie Bye

As a parent, one knows that without firm discipline from a young age, a child will push the boundaries of behaviour as far as he or she will get away with it. For far too long our government, and those administering justice, have allowed young people to push the boundaries of behaviour way beyond what is acceptable, by failing to draw a firm line beyond which they will be punished. The repeated issuing of cautions and ASBOs has quite obviously been totally ineffective. If there were enforced deterrents, strictly applied, to criminal or anti-sociable behaviour, young people would have a choice of either backing off, or knowing they would face the full force of the law if they chose to pursue that course of action. It is actually unfair to young people not to have such boundaries, as the way some kids are brought up they simply don't know when to stop. Someone needs to introduce 'zero tolerance', with the appropriate punishment applied immediately.

Chris Russell

Regarding disaffected teenagers, most people will initially think of the teenagers who are unemployed, with no direction resorting to crime etc.. I however think of my two children who had dreams of going places and are disaffected as they have no confidence in the government and politicians who have:

Provided an environment of high unemployment, making it difficult to work when at university.

Expecting university students to pay tuition fees on top of having to pay for their life-support.

Provided an environment of high unemployment potentially making it difficult to work after university.

Yet, expecting these same students to make good the national debt!

I suspect most politicians are so detached from the 'Man on the Street' they are incapable of any empathy. I suspect most politicians have absolutely no worries at all of how their children are going to fund themselves through university, especially considering the tax payer has most probably either bought or subsidised their second home, they will most probably even own their own property already.

Every week our disaffected teenagers see our corrupt politicians being 'caught' stealing from the tax paid from their hard earned part time earnings, in a country, where there are standards for politicians and different standards for the general public, where a member of the public being caught driving 5 miles an hour over the speed limit is more heavily disciplined than a politician stealing tens of thousands of pounds in illegal allowances.

The bottom line as I see it is; We cannot expect anything else but disaffected teenagers when we have disaffected politicians, who should be leading by example, rather than by exception.

Iain Cresswell

Sunday 25 October 2009

Your views on charities in the community:

I work for a small charity providing alternative education in Nottinghamshire. There is lots of talk from politicians/councils but precious little funding. We have faced closure over the last 3 years, despite an 18 year track record of success. We are winning National Training Awards up against big colleges and multimillion pound enterprises. Someone, somewhere, needs to start putting their hand in their pocket and paying for these underfunded and overstretched yet vital activities. We fill gaps that schools are not equipped to cater to.

John Birkill

I think we need to be very careful when considering the role of 'charities' providing essential services to local communities. The Tories' approach sounds very Victorian, encouraging philanthropy amongst worthy citizens, but what lies behind all this? Stand up our old friend, privatisation. Don't be misled by the charity label. Cameron's old school, Eton, is a registered charity after all but it doesn't exactly provide services for everyone or for free, does it?!

This is the wrong debate. It's just a blind to hide the Tories' real intentions by seeking to identify anyone who might oppose their plans as being against nice, cuddly 'charities'. This isn't 'Children in Need'!

Jim Grundy, Hucknall, Nottinghamshire

When Tony Blair went down the route of promoting women-only candidate lists, he not only incurred a certain amount of ridicule; he also landed the party with a number of irritating and ineffectual MPs. If David Cameron is indeed promoting a similar policy, I would urge him to reconsider. Such a move is patronising, and counter-productive. I for one would have no wish to win a seat on this basis. Let the women prove themselves in word and action in a fair contest with any gentlemen who seek election. And let the best candidate win.

(Mrs) Chris Russell

Time and time again, charities form to fill a need when statutory authorities and bodies have failed, or abrogated responsibility. From then on, the area of concern becomes a no-go area for statutory help and the charity is saddled with a permanent job which the statutory authority takes credit for but does nothing to contribute! This is how areas become blighted by neglect.

Take the homeless under Thatcher. The o-so wonderful opportunity to buy the housing stock privately meant no provision for the homeless and depleted public resources to take responsibility for housing.

A similar situation is developing regarding social care for disabled and dis-advantaged in categories like adult mental health. The authorities shut down day centres and pull the plug on resources and people are thrown back upon their own four walls with no further social opportunity to be part of the communities they are living in. Forget that Care in the Community is a long-term commitment to provide for these people!

Well who steps in, if it isn't the scantily financed charities who can ill-afford such unglamorous tasks as looking after the marginalised and oppressed in this society.

Rodney Yates

Sunday 18 October 2009

Your views on speed cameras:

Speeding cameras don't detect the drunk driver, the uninsured, the stolen car, the dangerously unmaintained car etc. Only police can do this by patrolling and stopping cars. Speed cameras are just used by Labour to feed this bankrupting government. Well done to the Conservatives. Sense at last.

C Henderson

In County Durham there are no speed cameras yet the county has the lowest road fatalities and injuries in the UK, please explain that would you?

Steve Toczyski, UK

A child has an 80% chance of survival in a collision at 30mph. At 40mph that is reduced to 20%. Speed cameras have proved their effectiveness. Bring them on, move them around and stop painting them yellow, then motorists will have to obey the speed limit everywhere.

Steve Barber, UK

Money making scheme when will they realise that speed camera's never work as the people who can afford the fines speed regardless and it is either car thieves who will never pay or sales executives, directors etc who just think it is a cost within the job stop making money from the rest of us who may go over by 2 - 3 mph with NO consequence to health & safety but pocket the councils and then cripple us.

Helen, England

Nick Palmer is right and the Conservatives are wrong for one very simple reason. Speed cameras are not installed to increase council revenues. On the contrary, the best speed cameras generate less revenue because they prevent drivers from speeding. This really is a no brainer... don't like speeding penalties then don't break the speed limit, which the camera is helping to enforce.

Andy Furlong

Speed cameras are a GOOD thing!

JOHN KEARNEY, ENGLAND

Richard Robinson says the conservatives are out of touch with public opinion. What planet is he on. Speed kills yes, and I agree with measures to combat that but not more cash cow speed cameras. Just another labour stealth tax on motorists. Don't agree with them and never have.

Paul, UK

Richard Robinson is the one that is out of touch with public opinion, most of the public view speed cameras as revenue producers not safety equipment, we are fed up with new laws and regulations that we have not been consulted over.

Alistair Shannon, England

I seriously doubt if speed cameras make any difference.

There is one on the Derby ring road on the Raynesway section that most people know of and so many drivers exceed the speed limit of 50mph only to drastically slow down as the get to this camera. This creates even more danger. I agree we need more auto signs to warn drivers they are speeding. Like drink driving the majority will be penalised because of persistent offenders who don't give a damn

John

Speeding does kill, but is the camera the answer? Does a camera bring about additional problems? Trying to watch the speedo all the time and keep in lane etc. could be taken as driving without due care could it not?

Cameras were introduced for known accident black spots and also around schools, but the Labour government changed this and tried to treat us like idiots by putting up cameras, whilst claiming it was for safety, when we all know it was to make money. Cameras have therefore lost out, and people now dont believe in the reasons for them, labour have only themselves to blame. Lets put cameras where they increase safety, forget making money from them, be honest and tell the UK you need to tax us more to make up for other deficits. We all know a camera on a straight section of dual carriageway in the middle of no where is simply there for £££££.

Andrew Mason, UK

Mmm, how odd the best casualty figure are proportionate to the fewer cameras there are. north wales policies being a glowing testimony to the abject failure of cameras!! If anyone looks at the figures they will find education not persecution is the most effective option. BUT WHERES THE PROFIT IN THAT??

Paul Jordan, UK

Why is there this ongoing notion that cameras can replace policemen? No camera has ever caught a drunk driver or stopped a violent attack. If cameras worked, Britain would have the safest streets in the world.

Sadly, The evidence demonstrates otherwise.

Stephen S, England

A much needed evil brought on by the much greater evil of the maniac driving of a good percentage of not just the younger driver but also the older "I know what I'm doing" brigade . Improve the general standard of driving or the cameras will take over!

Paul Waterhouse, England

Village vigilantes jumping out in front of cars waving hairdryers [speed guns] is not a way forward. Fitting GPS speed limitation devices with road tax and insurance incentives certainly will reduce accidents and casualties.

Stewart Wood, UK

I do not believe they cut accidents a great deal as some drivers now spend more time looking at their speedo and not where they are going and I believe as some of my college do they are just another way of making money.

Roderick Neale, Leicestershire

I have been caught twice by speed cameras in recent months. I am shocked by the fact I was speeding by 6mph and 8mph which gets me 6 points and a £150 rise in insurance and also £120 in fines if I accept the conditional offer. I work in Sheffield and have to commute, I was not travelling at ridiculous speeds causing a danger to the public?? I question it at best!!!!

Andy Bingham, Notts

Static cameras only work in their specific location. Far more effective would be a big increase in traffic police who can pull over the selfish and inconsiderate drivers wherever they are seen. We all know that some drivers totally ignore speed restrictions, and drive dangerously, with impunity, until they come to a speed camera. Spend money whereby such drivers can be caught and stopped, rather than on more cameras which randomly penalise all over a limit, including those who are normally careful drivers.

Mrs Chris Russell, UK (Northamptonshire)

Its not about speeding, its all about money they have to get it from somewhere so pick on the motorists. Simple.

George Witts

Speed cameras are useful and can save lives but they should cease to be a council's cash cow. Speed cameras at schools and dangerous junctions, hospitals; anywhere where there are many pedestrians are usually good news.

Cameras on open roads where drivers slow down specifically for them (and ccatch out unfamiliar drivers) are a waste of time. Average speed cameras are good to maintain a certain speed in a built up or designated area. Mobile cameras are another cash generator, especially set up for the unsuspecting in shaded areas or behind bushes.

Cameras were designed to ensure safety not raise cash from the overtaxed driver.

Simon Trelawny, UK

Of course there are better ways of making our roads safer. The majority are down to driver error. More traffic police and less cameras mean that drunk, drugged and dangerous drivers can be detected - something no speed camera can do. Figures on the road safety partnership website for speed camera sites in Notts show that accidents have reduced at some speed camera sites, stayed the same at others, and INCREASED accidents at some. Speed cameras raise revenue and provide an excuse to cut traffic police budgets - they have nothing to do with safety.

John Birkill

Sunday 4 October 2009

Your views on the death of a mother and daughter:

The police must ask themselves what they are there for, if not to protect innocent, frightened and intimidated citizens from the bullies of society. The press (The Mail and The Sun) need also to look at their moral values if it is true that one of the 'family' has been offered thousand of pounds by both papers to give his story. If true what message is it sending these ferals?

The law needs to start protecting the law-abiding citizens 'rights' and not those who wish to forfeit their rights by flouting the law constantly.

Joan Gillham, England

These problems being experienced in communities of harassment, intimidation, vandalism and unruly behaviour in general can be traced back to decisions taken in the 1970's and 1980's. When it was decided by Thatcher's Conservatives to remove police from the community with the sale of police houses, it was the precursor to many of today's problems. This is because when the local constable or sergeant lived among the people they knew the gossip in the area and were very often able to nip any problems in the bud. Because of this I have no faith in the idea of electing police chiefs as it will not bring the people closer to the police and anyway we already have too many elections. The real problem is the quality, or lack of it, of the people elected.

Jamie Bye

The events that led to the tragedy in Barwell in 2007 demonstrated the flaws in the partnership safeguarding of adults. This tragedy should never have happened if the partner agencies involved had perfect systems for communicating about those at risk. The immense stress from anti-social behaviour on a single mother and her daughter should never have been allowed to reach the state it did.

What were parents and families of those who were intimidating Mrs Pilkington and her daughter doing to allow the abuse to get so out of control?

Have the police an explanation as to why their response to 33 calls was less than satisfactory?

What steps are being taken by the police and borough council to prevent it happening again?

Is the borough council going to take action against the perpetrators of the intimidation?

Did neighbours give support to the family, or has the concept of a Good Samaritan gone for ever from Bardon Road?

Kevin Feltham (Dr) Leicestershire County Councillor - Gartree Division

Sunday 20 September 2009

Your comments on Teacher stress

"It's incredibly sad and frustrating when children as young as 12 are mocking, insulting and generally disrespecting someone who has worked hard to earn their status and is trying to help them" Mark Holmes, England

"I've been a teacher for almost 30 years and I can honestly say that I am beginning to hate my job, and that's something that I NEVER thought that I would say. The pressure to reach ridiculous targets is unbelievable - we're working with precious children not cans of beaked beans, no sooner have we 'got to grips' with a new initiative, we're told to scrap it and move on to a new one because the previous one didn't work- our fault of course.

That's been the case since the 1st nat 'Curric' was forced upon us. Now we're going to try a 'new' initiative... the Integrated Curriculum; looks very much like the way I taught when I first started teaching!!! I'm such a cynic! What really annoys me is that teachers spend hours of additional time at home to put all of the ridiculous strategies/initiatives into place and then we're held accountable /chastised and hauled through the press when they don't work.

I was off with stress and acute IBS 2 years ago, brought on by the worst year of my career; a mixed Year 1/2 class of 28 children, over 3/4 were on an IEP and half of those were for learning AND behaviour, oh, and no support! I couldn't cope with the trauma of being told to f--- off numerous times every day, being called a f------ c--- and having furniture thrown at me. I went to my head for help and he told me that a parent had complained about the behaviour of a particular child and how it was upsetting her daughter; the head told me that the fact that learning wasn't taking place and children were being upset was my fault as I wasn't teaching adequately.

In the end I couldn't do it any more and was off with stress related illness. I only have 7 years to go until I can retire, and I really want to continue, but if the Government continue to badger us, constantly criticise us in public, blame us for their ridiculous interventions and generally fail to support us, then I am fairly sure that this year will be my last." Jayne Harcock, Northants, England

"I have just retired early after almost 13 years of primary school headship in order to keep my health and my sanity. Over the years the micro-management of every aspect of school life has grown to ridiculous proportions. It is no good telling schools to be creative when, as a school in a deprived area, with above average numbers of SEN (Special Educational Needs) and EAL (English as an Additional Language) pupils, you have the Government, Local Authority, Ofsted and various quangos on your back constantly demanding more and more data and telling you that however hard you work it isn't good enough.

We put up with half termly meetings and reports where every child's performance was analysed, in order to 'meet the targets'- targets that were arbitrarily set by central government. Woe betide if these targets weren't met by children who happened to be ill or going through huge family traumas. Children are being sacrificed on the altar of political dogma and quick sound-bites. I have no problem with accountability- any service dependent on public money should be wholly accountable - but the proportion of my time spent on proving that my children were doing their best and that my staff were doing a good job became totally disproportionate." Barbara Phillips, England

"I have enormous sympathy for these teachers. There are likely to be many more, in this target driven culture in different areas of public life.

My parents were both secondary school teachers for many years, and although wonderful at their jobs, were stressed to the hilt with the amount of marking and paperwork. They loved teaching the kids- but the sheer volume of marking and admin was ruining their lives;(most nights up until 2am marking, and at weekends.)Add to that the actual stress of teaching, and the volume of classes. Many of their younger colleagues were "dropping like flies" was the expression- either ill with stress, or just leaving the profession, never to return.

I believe teachers themselves have sufficient skills to run their classes and schools, with little interference from government agencies. The whole effect of a target driven culture is soul destroying, and disempowering to teachers, children, and their parents. For example- SATS tests for 10 year olds creates horrendous pressures for the children themselves, and ruins much enjoyment of what should be a well rounded education. Our son is experiencing this at the moment. If we could find an alternative, we would take it!!

I wish the ministers responsible for setting these targets would LISTEN and take on board what teachers and parents have been saying for many years. Yes, raise standards- but not at the expense of staff morale, and denying children a well rounded education; and not being obsessed with targets and meaningless pieces of paper.

In my opinion, this target driven culture started in health and education in the 1980's- and the rot has got worse. Perhaps we could look to Scotland, and Scandinavian countries like Denmark, to see how things are done so much better- and to a better standard, without damaging the core of what education should be about; that is child centred and well rounded- not just box ticking." Joanne, Notts, England

Sunday 14 June 2009

Your comments on Tesco and shopping

The rise of Tesco seems to go on like a rolling stone gathering more and more momentum. Do we no longer have a Monopolies commission, or indeed local communities who are prepared to say no to Tesco? I am seeing whole communities destroyed because Tesco have so much control.

When the day comes that we will only be able to shop there and we have absolutely no choice where to spend our money perhaps the lemmings who flock to this store will realise that this company has achieved its goal.

The farmers and other producers have a terrible time and their profit margins are being squeezed and their lives ruined when contracts are brutally terminated without good reason. It is about time people voted with their feet and boycotted this supermarket whilst we still have a little bit of competition.

The days of "No choice" terrify me and there are a lot of people who feel the same. I live in an isolated community without a shop but Tesco will deliver, but for how long and at what price in the future?

Needless to say I am not a Tesco shopper.

Jacqueline Simper

If anyone who wants to see the impact of Tesco can have on independent traders just visit Hucknall. It's been 'topped and tailed' by Tesco with stores at both ends of the town.

Tesco doesn't need to take all the trade away from local shops to close them and, especially in these times, it just takes a relatively small reduction in takings to render them unviable.

From Tesco's perspective, 'every little helps' or, in the case of Hucknall town centre, 'hurts'.

The people of Belper are right to oppose what would only be bad for the area - shoppers and traders.

Jim Grundy

Sunday 31 May 2009

Your comments

Trams

The problem with extending the tram system is that it doesn't go far enough. Until the 1950s Britain's railway network was deservedly the envy of the world. It was due to ministerial incompetence and corruption that the rail and tram networks were torn up - now it is realised that they should never have been gotten rid of, but modern economics mean it costs billions to replace what was lost.

The issue now is that tramlines and trainlines are 'piecemeal'. The Robin Hood rail line that joins up with the tramline into Nottingham through Hucknall, etc., would make an absolute fortune if it were extended into Clowne over the Derbyshire border. The tramline that goes from Halfway through Mosborough and Crystal Peaks needs extending to Eckington or, preferably, Staveley - again, fortunes to be made.

Countries like Japan and France have superb rail systems because these are a) nationwide - everyone can access a station with ease and b) state subsidised - Britain's rail system should be immediately renationalised and massive investment made in things like Japan's bullet trains.

Social worker funding

The problem is not just one of chronic underfunding - it's one of making social workers do their jobs metaphorically trussed up like a Christmas turkey. Risk aversion, blame culture, political correctness and defensive working because the first reaction is 'cover back avoid lawsuits' all merge into the elephant in the room.

Social workers (like police officers) spend 8 hours a day filling in paperwork and pointless bureaucracy to try and eliminate risk and avoid being sued. No social worker should be permitted to call themselves 'senior' until they have been on the job for a minimum of 5 years. Every social worker who wants to specialise in child protection or elderly protection should not be allowed to claim the specialism until they have had 5 years of practical working in that field.

Old social workers coming up to retirement should be encouraged to remain as their common sense will counterbalance the youthful enthusiasm but naivete of new graduates who are 23, think they know it all and are clueless about how the real world works.

Catherine Stewart

Trams

If the people of Nottingham have been asked specifically if they want trams and they have said yes, then fine. If however it is a question of local councillors puffed up with their own importance and are just playing it for political point scoring, then no. In any event I do not want trams in Leicester.

Social services spending and operation is not just a question of funding but also one of commitment and dedication and inspirational leadership.

Jamie Bye

Sunday 24 May 2009

Your comments on MPs' expenses

The last thing I want is a general election until all MP's have been scrutinised. I don't want to give my vote to anyone who after being elected is found to be unworthy of that position.

John Adams

If we did what some of these MPs are accused of, we would be arrested, charged with fraud, theft, conspiracy to defraud etc. Then if the value is over £5k we would be sent to prison! So we want the same justice for these MPs. They are not above the law. How do they expect us to be honest in our tax returns, benefit claims etc? We demand prosecutions where public money has been appropriated for person gain and misuse.

Eric Rowley

I have voted Labour since I was 18 and I am now 62 and BLOODY FURIOUS at these MPs. My Grandmother was a suffragette and for that reason I have always used my vote but I don't think I will in future until Labour get back to using working class men and women to represent us and who are not interested in the gravy train.

Carol Drysdale

Thank you to the Telegraph for publishing the information.

MPs judged to be not fit by themselves, their party or their constituents should RESIGN now & not wait, & presumably to be paid as MP, till the next election. We can have bye-elections now.

All claims of payments to staff should be investigated (by HMC&E & the Fraud Squad) to establish that:

1 payments were indeed made to a 3rd person

2 work was done by the person receiving payment

3 PAYE was deducted

Margaret Henderson

I am disgusted at how the are claiming for food. They earn a wage and should be paying it out of that. They can't be in two places at once. It is much cheaper to eat in Westminster as we subsidise it.

Anon

Yes, it's time for reform of our electoral system but we must not Knee-Jerk and take some time to design a system which is robust and has longevity. I see no advantage in rushing head-long into a general election which the fringe parties can only gain at the expense of the current anger of our citizens and common sense.

Alan Davies

Make the MPs pay back all expenses received over last 4 years. Scrap 2nd homes - make them live near their place of work, give them travel expenses to go to their constituency and stay overnight for their surgeries in a 3 star hotel.

Do not increase their salary, let me pay my taxes to Dr's, nurses and head teachers instead.

Philip Healy

Yes, the MPs are paying back the money but what about all the interest that has been lost on the money owed.

Paul Lovejoy Jones

The MPs expenses row is an absolute disgrace. Certain people have done the honourable thing and stood down. As for the others in particular Hazel Blears how on earth can she remain in office. When she waved the cheque in front of the media saying it was to pay back the money which she had failed to pay in capital gains tax was the last straw for me.

A general election is needed now not next year.

My stomach turns thinking about the whole sordid affair. Court action should be taken against those who have deceived the people of this country.

Richard Bradford

A complete overhaul of our political system is required, as no party is free of members of parliament abusing the system.

Perhaps the time has come to do away with political parties, and vote for people who have ideals that inspire people to vote for them, and if those people do not live up to the promises they made when elected they can be removed by those that elected them at any time - the whole process being honest and transparent, with the aim of running the country for the benefit of the population, rather than just the so called elite, who have disgraced the whole of parliament.

A general election will not solve the problem as so many dishonourable members of parliament have their snouts in the trough.

Stan Dixon

Sunday 17 May 2009

Your comments on MPs' expenses

For many people this situation only confirms the arrogance of the political class who since the Major government have shown utter contempt for the people they are supposed to represent. The problem now is that the current bunch will be tarred with the same brush whether they deserve it or not and no amount of repaying of monies will change the present public perception.

Jamie Bye

For me the whole debacle really just confirms my impression that the vast majority of politicians are crooked, greedy, hypocritical liars, and makes me even less inclined to actually bother to vote than I had already become.

John Birkill

I am concerned that this debate is getting out of control. The level of anger expressed on Question Time on BBC1 on Thursday was closer to a virtual lynch mob then reasoned debate.

Yes, MPs have made a very big mistake in resisting publishing details of their expenses until they were dragged though the courts to do so. Yes, some MPs have made claims that broke the rules and some others made claims that are excessive.

An MP's job is very demanding and for most results in working long hours away for home. Their pay is greater then most people but is much lower then others in comparable professions. One underlining reason for the situation they find themselves in is that they have allowed some executives and other groups within the public sector to be paid excessive salaries. There are too many people in the public sector that are paid in excess of the PM which can't be right.

Some breathing space is required, say until September, for new proposals on expenses to be made and then a full debate and implementation by December.

I would be very disturbed if our present system is damaged by this episode. All changes in the system need to be gradual - much as we would like it to be otherwise.

Brian O'Neill, Burton Joyce

My MP seems to be diligent and a decent enough chap, but I still don't see why I should pay the mortgage interest on his second home. I accept most MPs need a London home, but if they choose to buy surely the money claimed from the tax-payer should be repaid from the "profit" when they come to sell. Indeed there could be a case for the tax-payer reclaiming all the proceeds less the amount put in by the MP.

Edward Wheatley

First Aid to patch up this sick political animal will not suffice. Major surgery, of the kind that does 'break moulds', is the least needed to get our country through this mess. We are the laughing-stock of the world!

Rodrigo Portico, Ashfield

MPs who fiddle their expenses should be charged with fraud and given a stiff sentence. They have betrayed the voters' trust in them.

Gerard Kelman

If the story had not broke they would have carried on feeding themselves on public money

Geoff Woolley

Offering to pay it back now is too little, too late.

Rita Pinder

I am very annoyed that MPs are claiming everything they possibly can from us the taxpayer whether it be legal or otherwise - it should be "reasonable". I would like to see each and every one of them disciplined accordingly.

In the "normal" work environment anyone found stealing from the company can and usually is dismissed - these MP's are effectively stealing from us the tax payer and I am sure they all know that they were making fraudulent claims - especially claiming for a mortgage - people in the real world know when their mortgage is paid as it is something worth celebrating.

It would be a great help to all voters to see a list of MP's that haven't or don't make unfair expense claims BEFORE we go to vote in June.

Maria Savage

These MPs are people without any real useful qualification whatsoever who sit in judgment and pass legislation to commit electorate. They now admit to being unable to carry out simple accountancy , don't understand the rules, do not recognise basic ethical issues and basically have taken every opportunity at every step to feather own nest. Those with legal degrees are seemingly top of the pile - they knew exactly what they were doing and milked a system so pathetically administered it beggars belief. As they say those that can do - those that can't teach - or become MPs.

If this were France etc we would be marching on Parliament and blocking Motorways: The public did more about foxhunting issues.

Roger Fell

I honestly believe the MPs who have abused the system claiming allowances should be put on trial they are educated people /they were put in a position of trust to help and fight for lower class people

Peter Ambler, Derby

If you think the public are angry how do you think Party members feel? We're the ones who've worked to get the MPs into their privileged positions, receiving little thanks and are now getting the brickbats while the MPs continue in their hideaways in London.

I was first elected as a councillor in 1981 and have tried to represent the interests of my electors for almost 30 years. If I loose my seat in June it may well be because of that crew down south.

How come paying back is punishment or shows strong leadership? If I go shoplifting and get away with it I'm doing well. If I'm caught should my punishment be limited to putting the goods back? Seems to me that this requirement by David Cameron demonstrates weak leadership.

I have long argued that Parliament should buy a hotel close to the House and provide a room for MPs elected for the period of their tenure free of charge on a full board basis. This would be generous provision yet represent a major saving and an improving investment.

Anyone caught with their hands in the cookie jar has to pay the penalty. In a civilised world these MP's would have to stand trial for the crime committed. In some cases, blatant fraud.

This second home allowance is simply wrong. It should be an assisted allowance or a hotel! To claim for pool maintenance and hair products. Come on!!! I may stop my council tax.

A very miffed tax payer!

Gavin Morris

Yes, it will make a difference to how I vote. In fact we shouldn't vote for any of them. Make them work for a living, like we have to instead of sponging off the taxpayers.

Sheila Holmes

How many extremely financially challenged people have been disciplined by the courts, because of expenses indiscretions. They can't say sorry.... I didn't realize, I'll pay it back! They will be fined, perhaps lose their homes and maybe even their families, as their lives skydive from bad to worse.

Our politicians and their policies have wrecked our country for us and our children. They don't risk their lives fighting their wars, they don't worry where their next pay packet is coming from; their only focus has been in greed, with the proletariat there to do their dirty work for them.

Such a shame!

As a member of the Armed forces I have the honour to work with people who are really selfless and truly serve our Nation, sometimes paying the ultimate price.

Iain Cresswell

I think the expenses row is a completely media manufactured frenzy and utterly laughable in the context of the situation people in this country face. Apart from the recession, British soldiers are being killed in an unwinnable war and, frankly, compared to that it is just a joke. It's as if, unable to come to terms with the real issues, people - journalists in particular - are looking at this tiny speck as a way of diverting themselves from reality. Will it change how I vote? No. It will make me far less likely to bother with the media. I've stopped reading newspapers and watching the news on TV. It's pathetic.

Jim Grundy

Sunday 26 April 2009

Your comments on the British Grand Prix

Being from Northamptonshire, the news here was met with quite some disappointment that the Grand Prix was moving away from a county which has learnt to cope well with the influx of traffic and tourism during this event. I personally live 10 minutes from the circuit and never experienced any issues around the area, especially after the improvements to the A43 were brought in.

Claire

The British grand prix should have remained at Silverstone. The sport is in danger of losing sponsorship and the removal of the British Grand Prix from the calendar will only add to this danger.

Edwin Baughan

They should never have moved it from Silverstone in the first place.

Robert Payne

Why is the government saying we need to develop this industry when we have Silverstone with improved facilities and road access?

Elizabeth Gowen

What an enormous shame it will be if this whole scheme falls through and Britain loses its Grand Prix. I live less than 10 miles away from Donington and I still feel it would bring more benefits than pitfalls. I just hope common sense prevails and the suits can get their acts together!

John Birkill


Your comments on MPs' expenses

I am disappointed with the supposedly Christian Bishop of Lincoln, John Saxbee who appears to have descended into politics, presumably at the behest of the BBC (i.e. the Labour Party). To smear Rev Robert West on TV was despicable, and had little to do with church matters, other than that the church/government don't like his politics.

Anthony Norbury-Lea

On the East Midlands Politics Show, the Labour MP for Bassetlaw, John Mann, called for a drastic reduction in MPs' expenses.He wants an overnight allowance, payable only when the Commons is in session and amounting to the bed and breakfast rate at the nearest Travel Lodge to Westminster

Hear hear! What a breath of fresh air to hear an MP talking sense - especially on the subject of expenses.

John, Nottingham

Some people don't even have one house and are struggling to make ends meet. Many people are losing jobs and having to wait 12 weeks to receive any money and you have MPs complaining. Many would be grateful that food is on the table and when away from home can claim a meal and claim the money back. This is supposed to be a great Britain, what's so great about it?

Gayna Whitely

There should be no attempt to use a day attendance rate - ridiculously open to full abuse - would require a clocking in system supported by diary entries of work carried out on behalf of taxpayer. Too cumbersome and impossible to monitor.

Roger Fell

The new system should be related to attendance at the house for a decent period of time, (no clocking in and sliding off for the day) and the actual extra expense involved for MPs who live more than an hour away from Westminster to attend to Government business, with caps on the amount that can be spent on hotels and meals and receipts required.

The expense claims should be available for public inspection and if any MP is found cheating the penalty would be expulsion from his seat and a new bi election should be held to find a replacement.

Kenneth Molloy

Those MP's who use their allowance to purchase a second home should be obliged to sell it when no longer an MP. Any gain from the sale should go to the Exchequer any loss would similarly be sustained by the taxpayer. Once the mortgage on the second home was paid the MP should be taxed on the open market rental value, excluding Council tax, Water rates etc., of the second home as a benefit in kind. Should a bed and board system be settled upon it would only apply to the four nights spent in London as they would usually travel down on Monday and home on Friday. With regard to who decides the system it certainly shouldn't be MP's but an independent review board. A simple way to create an opportunity to pay individuals more money, at no cost to the taxpayer, would be to cut their numbers by at least a third. After all their only job now is to rubber stamp EU regulation and legislation.

Jamie Bye

I think that the issue of MP's accommodation would be more easily solved were the House to buy a central London hotel. I have raised this with MPs of my acquaintance who each find an excuse as to why this would not work. Strangely, each finds an excuse differing from other MPs. As an elected member of some 28 years standing I am often ashamed of the behaviour of those elected to our highest offices, and in this I include members of all political parties, not excluding my own.

Cllr Jim Muir, Burton CLP

Sunday 22 February 2009

I lived in Nottinghamshire during the strike and remember Mr Scargill being denied entrance to Blidworth Miners Welfare. Sad times, especially as Mr Scargill was right about the politics of the time which was to finish coalmining in revenge for the Heath three day week.

Particularly sad now in view of new technology that offers hope for cleaner burning of coal.

But it won't be the politicians that pay, it will be the former miners, and the people who have seen their communities destroyed, all for the dogma of the time in the same way that New Labour dogma is doing now.

A curse on all politicians.
Jamie Bye

Cotgrave Colliery is a wasteland, in Ken Clarke's constituency, this is the true face of toryism, written off like the men who worked there.
R Johnson

Sunday 15 February 2009

Wow. I cant believe the negative and narrow-minded comments on the proposal for a GB football team. Ranging from it would never happen because people in Scotland would never accept it (said by an Englishman) to another Englishman saying that they didn't want anything to do with the Scots, Irish or the Welsh.

This is a fantastic opportunity to develop our up and coming stars by giving them a new and fresh challenge to aspire to.

Seph OConnell, In England from Scotland

I am afraid I take the view that my interests were better looked after by the hereditary House on the purely selfish basis that these families have managed to hang on to their wealth, and lands, for centuries so they are the ones I want to look after my interests, not the political nominees who mainly seem to be on the make.

Jamie Bye

The House of Lords can begin to gain SOME credibility by actually being elected. But why is anyone surprised that, elected or not, large companies seek to influence anyone within Government? In the US there is a massive lobbying industry and no House of Lords; money doesn't differentiate between elected and unelected bodies.

The real problem is the relationship between big business and Government. Somehow I think Ministers, MPs, Lords, councillors whatever might be more willing to meet me, were I to bring along a bag of gold to a discussion than if mu pockets were empty. Why should anyone gain greater access to Government simply because of their wealth They shouldn't but they do.

Jim Grundy, Nottinghamshire

I heartily agree. I think it's nothing short of a national scandal. Children at that age form lifelong attitudes & opinions. So many these days have limited or nonexistent access to positive MALE role models and this is something that good male primary school teachers can go someway to resolve.

Christopher Meaton

I am a student at south Notts College studying a BTEC in children's care learning and development. Then I want to progress onto Uni to eventually peruse a career as a primary school teacher. I am the only male in my class and it has been brought to my attention that some people discriminate against males in the childcare sector. I would like to think that more males would come into childcare soon.

Jack Litowczuk

Whilst I appreciate that the lack of male teachers may be a concern, I hope any movement to recruit more male teachers doesn't result in a bias towards men being invited for interviews for both teacher training and teaching roles. Yes encourage more interest amongst men but ensure that the best candidates get through!

Sarah

Our son, who has behavioural difficulties has had first year female teacher one after the other all his school life (He is now in year 4). Each year his problems have compounded as they have been left undealt with despite our best efforts to get him help. This year, he has had his first male teacher (helped by the fact that he has been in teaching for several years, not straight from college) and his school life has turned around completely. His difficulties have not disappeared - but they are managed effectively and for the first time we are seeing progress. At last discipline at home is being backed up by effective discipline at school and my son is a happier boy for it. There is a long way to go but I firmly believe that a firm male role model at school would have helped long before now. My son does not lack a male role model at home - his father has always been there living at home. I do think though that balance is needed both at home and at school and more male teachers would go a long way to provide some of this much-needed balance.

K Davies, Lincolnshire

This is a very big problem that puts discipline in schools at risk as children in primary school reach year 4 and 5.

There were no men at all in our local primary and the 'bad' boys were out of control. A male teacher has been brought in and already the discipline problem is improving. It is thought that no matter how strong willed a woman teacher is, she presents no 'potential' threat to a young male and therefore in unable to enforce discipline as most women fear attack and confrontation. However, a male, though he may not actually in anyway harm a young boy, still presents, at the back of the boys' mind a 'potential' physical presence and threat that, if he is a strong character immediately gives him the upper hand in a class room setting.

My daughter was so afraid of school because of the indiscipline of the boys that I was considering home schooling her for the last six months of her education before going to a high school with a very high proportion of good, strong upstanding male teachers who enforce discipline with a rod of iron.

However, the bringing in of a very good, strong, disciplinarian male teacher has completely changed her school experience.

Men are an absolute essential in schools and it is an absolute disaster for our young children, male and female, that good men have been side lined and we have an ineffective female led discipline system in schools.

Men and women must work TOGETHER to enforce discipline in schools as one cannot be effective without the other.

Julie

There were only two male teachers (one being the head teacher) and the caretaker at my daughter's primary school in Hadfield. After retirement, there is now only the head teacher. All the other teachers are females. This is, I believe, detrimental to the children in that the message sent out to the children could possibly be that teaching is not for "men". More should definitely be done to redress the balance and encourage males into teaching in primary schools - particularly those more mature males who retrain due to career change (forced or otherwise). Some children grow up without men in their lives at home - if there are no male role models at all this doesn't give those children a true view of what life is really about.

Jayne

It seems strange that Mr Gerver fails to mention the other large obstacle facing any man who considers primary school teaching: the stigma of being considered a likely paedophile. The relentless onslaught of propaganda by children's organisations over the last few decades is one of the main causes of the decline in the already-small proportion of male teachers. Until we see a reversal in the image of the man with a child as inherently suspicious, we will continue to damage children's lives.

Alison Newton

Why would any man risk an accusation of paedophilia from some parent or spiteful child who has been denied their own way, knowing that just the accusation itself would be enough to end their career or at least cause months of very public misery ? No one would chance that.

Jason Roberts

This issues does not only apply to teaching. It is important that there is a male presence in early years settings too - a study done for nursery world showed that parents see a male presence as a positive thing for their child.

There is a big divide though between Teaching and Caring - teaching is a higher education issue, so male, mostly mature students have good sources of funding. Anyone wanting to do a vocational course in FE at college don't stand a chance - the funding isn't there for them to carry on in the course - I've just started a Level 3 diploma in Childcare, and being 32, funding is not widely available. My male friend is also in the same situation as me - he's on the course, but we're both struggling. More should be done to encourage males to study in FE as well as HE - it's not just about teaching.

David Rimmington

This former head teacher is completely out of touch with what is actually happening to recruit men into primary teaching. There are huge efforts being made by the Government through the TDA (Training and Development Agency for schools) supporting many initiatives to recruit male primary trainees. My company, EM Direct (www.emdirect.co.uk), has a TDA contract to run Teaching Taster Courses targeting getting men into primary and so far this academic year we have run five primary courses and seen 30 men interested in training to teach in primary schools. Not withstanding the Graduate Teacher Programme where we have as a priority Men into Primary, and the Student Associate Programme to give under graduates a taste of life as a teacher. We also run for the TDA Returner Courses aimed at getting career break teachers back to the classroom and each year these attract men as well as women. We also have funding to attract service leavers (from the RAF, Army and Navy) to train as teachers as their next career, and last summer/autumn we say 10 men interested. So I am sorry, your programme and report is very imbalanced. We would be delighted to talk to the BBC about all the initiatives that are happening and the outcomes.

Tony Cook

I agree that we need more men in primary education but the only way to solve this in the short term is to look for teachers across the age range. This is even more important now that many children do not have an adult male in their house and those that do don't always have a good role model I am sure that there are red blooded males in primary education but most of the male primary teachers I have met as a father of 3 and grandfather of 5 have been wimps with a handshake like a piece of wet cod! Get rid of the bad ones, men and women, and pay them more.

Paul Smith

My daughter has a male Year 2 teacher in a primary school in Northants and he is by a country mile the very best teacher she has ever had - and she seems to respect him a lot more. So thumbs up for the male teachers from me!

Lindsey Fullman

Interesting interviews re male primary teachers.

All the female contributors spoke of employing 'the best teacher'. There was no mention of positive discrimination. Strange?

Kevin

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