IoS letters, emails & online postings (18 September 2011)

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Janet Street-Porter laments the eventual succumbing by Harrogate to what she sees as an inevitable invasion by Tesco (11 September). However, things need not be like this. Here in Keyworth (a large semi-rural village to the south of Nottingham), we have just defeated a determined and bullying attempt by Tesco to muscle into our community, kill our local shops and turn us into another outpost of Tesco-land.

This victory was achieved by a community effort in which residents, campaigners, council officers and councillors worked together to ensure that the best possible case was presented at the planning inquiry. We were well organised, committed, and determined to achieve what the vast majority of our people wanted; to preserve our lively vibrant community and not let it be turned into a one-shop town.

It can be done and it will be done again by other communities who really want to preserve their identity against the uniformity of the all-powerful invader.

Sam Boote

Keyworth, Nottingham

I have lived in Scarborough and York where I shopped locally, whenever possible, in limited amounts. But there, as in nearly every high street, prohibitive parking charges and restrictions have made it impossible to shop in larger amounts. I now live in Aylesbury, which has a dying town centre. I cannot carry more than two bags to the car park, which is expensive. Don't blame supermarkets. Blame local councils who are strangling high streets with their greed for revenue. Supermarkets have free trolleys and parking – suits me.

J Rice

Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

Your article "Church accused of asset-stripping over property sales" fails to acknowledge that there is nothing new in changing a bishop's house (11 September). Over the last 60 years, 24 of the 43 See Houses, as bishops houses are called, have been changed.

Housing the Church of England's diocesan bishops is one of the Church Commissioners' key responsibilities, and their over-riding role is to provide each bishop with a suitable house as a base for his ministry – suitable for his work and family arrangements, according to criteria which are periodically reviewed in conjunction with the House of Bishops.

When the commissioners consider the suitability of bishops' houses, they seek both to reflect the mind of the wider Church across the country, and also to give due weight to the views of the local community as expressed in their consultations.

We are very conscious of our custodial role in relation to historic See Houses such as Rose Castle, and always act as responsible stewards of that heritage. However, our core driver as far as housing bishops is concerned must be the provision of a suitable operational house.

Andrew Brown

Secretary to the Church Commissioners

London SW1

Without detracting from the anniversary of 11 September 2011, there is another 11 September which should not be forgotten. On 11 September 1973 in Santiago, Chile, a coup overthrew a democratically elected Marxist government. This was orchestrated by the then United States administration of Nixon and Kissinger.

Robert McGrogan

Wallasey, Wirral

May I state right away that I have no connection whatsoever with the tobacco industry, or the hospitality industry or any such.

Emily Dugan's article of 29 May 2011 ("The unstoppable march of the tobacco giants") uses Office of National Statistics data to justify the claim that pubs, clubs and bingo halls have not suffered as a result of smoking restrictions. The ONS report which she used was Opinions Survey No 40 which was released 28 July 2009. Table No 7.14 does indeed show, overall, that more people said that they went to pubs more often after the ban.

However, that report was superseded by Report No 42 which was released 28 January 2010. Table 5.9 shows clearly that in both 2008 and 2009 less people went to pubs after the ban than before.

Ms Dugan relied upon the overall figure in table 7.14 of Report No 40. She conveniently failed to observe the first column of table 7.14, which shows that a massive 25 per cent of smokers said they went less often. The ONS surveys do not account for the actual number of visits to pubs that people make in any given period of time – they merely ask "more often" or "less often" – but the number of pub closures indicate that the industry has suffered significantly from the ban.

Figures from the British Beer and Pub Association show an unprecedented decline in pub numbers beginning in 2007 which has yet to subside. Statistics from Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales are remarkably consistent in showing a large rise in pub closures shortly after smoking bans were enacted (Source: CGA data/ CR Consulting, September 2010). Since these bans have been introduced at different times between 2004 and 2007, this trend cannot be accounted for by other social or economic factors.

James Watson

Bolton, Lancashire

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