IoS letters, emails & online postings (15 January 2012)

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One of the key messages that came across from your in-depth piece on Race in Britain was on the issue of low aspiration within our younger black and minority ethnic (BME) communities ("Has life changed for ethnic minorities?", 8 January).

Jeremy Crook is correct in highlighting the value of having a role model, and Race for Opportunity's research over the past few years has consistently identified the value BME people place in having access to a role model when it comes to making decisions about their own career path. Yet, despite this strong desire for a role model, the lack of prominent figures from an ethnic minority background is sadly striking, and this continues to act as subtle deterrent to people from ethnic minority groups.

Businesses still have a great deal to achieve in ensuring their recruitment and career progression procedures are fully transparent and equal. But if we really want to inspire the next generation of workers, then mentor and active sponsorship programmes are one of the most effective means of raising aspirations and creating opportunities. These have to be led from the top down, with business leaders recognising that opening their doors to a previously unexplored talent base will certainly reap reward.

Sandra Kerr

Race for Opportunity

London N1

Dr Kailash Chand condemns the "destabilisation" of the health service by the introduction of "for-profit private providers" (Letters, 8 January). Ever since the NHS started, over 60 years ago, almost all GP practices have been operated by their partners for profit. As he suggests that the profit motive destabilises the NHS, are we to assume that he is proposing that all GPs should cease to operate for profit and become employees of the NHS? If patient choice is a "double-edged sword", are we to assume that he sees some danger in the present freedom of patients to choose their GP?

Martin Cox


We welcome the news that EDF Energy is lowering gas bills following the decline in the one-year wholesale gas price. When wholesale prices increase, energy companies are swift to pass on the cost, but the same speed isn't seen when prices fall. It is time that more pressure was brought to bear on power giants in respect of the fairness of their pricing structures and the support they give to struggling households.

High fuel costs are of paramount concern to the people we assist, nearly two-fifths saying that they couldn't afford to heat their homes before coming to us. On top of this, over half were regularly skipping meals, indicating that in Britain, at the start of 2012, there are still those forced to choose between whether they "heat or eat".

We urge other fuel companies to follow EDF Energy's lead and ease the financial burden facing thousands of families across the UK, by lowering prices and increasing the support available to vulnerable households.

Rob Tolan

Elizabeth Finn Care

London W9

R F Bowler suggests that greater use be made of water power to generate electricity (Letters, 8 January). I could not agree more. During a period of intense drought in England, I was walking in the Welsh mountains and passed a number of major drinking water reservoirs. In every case, water was pouring over the spillway. It would cost very little to harness this to generate electricity, considerably less than using wind power, and would give a consistent, not an intermittent, supply.

Richard Noble

Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire

You refer to the proposed high-speed railway connecting London to the Midlands and the North as the first new "mainline" railway for more than a century ("Green light for high-speed rail stalls car lobby", 8 January). In that case, HS1, which links London to the Tunnel, Paris and Brussels, must be a branch line.

Anthony Slack

Hastings, East Sussex

Classic FM may be 20 years old, but it plays exclusively European classical music (The New Review, 8 January). I have requested Indian and Chinese classical musical, but without success. Where does one hear non-European classical music?

Kartar Uppal

West Bromwich, West Midlands

You always refer to London Wasps. But they have been playing in High Wycombe, over 30 miles from London, for nearly five years, and are unlikely to go anywhere in the foreseeable future. Locally, the word London never gets a mention.

Cliff Barker

via email

My compatriots who would lower the voting age for the referendum to 16 should recall Mark Twain: "When I was 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around, but when I got to be 21, I was amazed at how much he had learnt in seven years."

John Birkett

St Andrews, Fife

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