IoS letters, emails & online postings (24 July 2011)

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There's some good advice for the would-be migrant to the English countryside in "Escaping the rat race" (17 July), but there are also omissions.

The main bone of contention in most villages is a lack of affordable housing. Although second-home ownership exacerbates the problem, it's the overall lack of affordable homes that is the real issue – reinforced by Nimbyism. If government hopes for localism are to succeed, then this must be translated into Imbyism – a can-do mentality of "in my back yard" – positively welcoming new and affordable housing into rural communities. Otherwise, they will fossilise and become the preserve of the wealthy, the educated and the aged ... and die.

The recently axed Commission for Rural Communities noted in 2009 that the "average rural house price remains substantially higher than the average urban house price, and the gap is widening". Again in 2009, Inside Housing quoted National Housing Federation research, which showed that "people applying for an affordable home in the 10 rural districts with the longest waiting lists would face a wait, on average, of up to 90 years before enough new homes were built to clear the backlog".

James Derounian

Lecturer in community engagement and governance, University of Gloucestershire

As a hospital pharmacist dispensing horrendous amounts of drugs all day but also working on wards, I feel I need to question the current philosophy of medicine. The emphasis now on long-term prevention of conditions means we have lost sight of improving quality of life. There is an assumption that people want to live for ever. I refer mainly to drugs that are used to reduce cholesterol, reduce blood pressure and increase bone-mineral density. These drugs may reduce rates of heart attacks, strokes and hip fractures, but what is likely to happen is that other diseases are encountered.

Would you be happy to prevent one disease only to find yourself confronting another? For example, the most commonly negated is heart disease, but this could well be offset by other conditions such as cancer and dementia, or Parkinson's disease. All that is happening with drug therapy is manipulation of the cause of death. It's time to decide how you want to die.

Name and address withheld

Chris Moncrieff states that Prime Minister's Questions are "fun" ("50 Years of PMQs", 17 July). Certainly, they may appear so to those in the press gallery and the Westminster "bubble" – and they do make good knockabout theatre. However, they are supposed to be a time when Parliament can hold the Prime Minister to account.

He claims that the public "love it". I wonder if this is so. I suspect few watch PMQs and many feel Parliament is demeaned by the yah-boo behaviour of members who drown out both questions and so-called answers.

Malcolm Morrison

Swindon, Wiltshire

Your report "Fight to save local libraries gets its day in court" (17 July) said that Blackpool had "five out of eight libraries earmarked for closure [and] two others reopened with reduced opening hours". That is not the case. One library, Mereside, closed for three weeks and then reopened with reduced hours. Meanwhile, only two weeks ago, we opened a brand new library in Moor Park in a multimillion-pound partnership project. On Monday, we will unveil a £200,000 refurbishment of another library. We are also completely redeveloping our central library; this £3m project will be opened on 26 September.

Anne Ellis

Head of libraries, Blackpool Council

Patrick Cockburn ("Why must Britain always try to 'punch above her weight'?", 17 July) is right to question this country's military adventures. They are a relic of our empire days, and a costly burden in a time of economic hardship – as are the thousands of troops still stationed in Germany when the Cold War ended years ago.

Tim Mickleburgh

Grimsby, Lincolnshire

I disagree with Chiara Cavaglieri ("Stop short-term need turning into a long-term crisis", 17 July), who states that comparing APRs is not a helpful way to compare the costs of loans. Payday loans are insidious. They prey on the poor and those numerically challenged. Loans charging in excess of 250 per cent APR (the fairest measure) should be made illegal.

Malcolm Howard

Banstead, Surrey

I generally look forward to Janet Street-Porter's comments, but how can she describe budgies as "unspeakably naff" ("Osborne's naff feathered friend", 17 July)? All pets are creatures to be respected for what they are and to be cared for responsibly. I have a budgie, a canary and permanently foster a disabled dove. All three are much-valued companions with individual needs for quality of life. This country is often described as a nation of animal lovers. Besides direct cruelty and ignorance, it is, I sense, more a nation of animal owners. Animals are not toys, fashion accessories or prestige items.

Martine Norman

Witham, Essex

Letters to the Editor, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF; email: (no attachments, please); fax: 020 7005 2627; online:

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