IoS letters, emails & online postings (24 August 2014)

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The Independent Online

Newmarket is a dump ("Tory minister lines up with racing royalty against new homes", 17 August). The High Street is dominated by betting shops and seedy nightclubs. Traffic is snarled up all morning while the trainers' horses take priority.

Rather than recognise the reality of the modern world, and moving the horses out of town, the racing fraternity instead uses a supposed threat to the industry to oppose any development that might support growth and a rebalancing of the local economy to a broader and more productive base.

The billionaire stud-owners who oppose development in the town, and donate to Matthew Hancock's local party, do not live in Newmarket, use its services, nor spend money there.

Hancock's request to Eric Pickles to call in the Hatchfield Farm development is cynical and hypocritical, and clearly not in the best interests of those who live in Newmarket and the surrounding area. Still, the stable lad's vote is worth as much as Kirsten Rausing's. I hope come next May he will use it.

Rachael Padman

Newmarket, Suffolk

Laurence Phelan writes in "The acid test" (17 August) that LSD's status as a Schedule I, Class A drug is not "an accurate reflection of the dangers it poses". This is a big claim. We are often told the same thing about cannabis and yet anyone who has experience of mental-health units, drug rehabs, and other such hidden places, will tell you of the irreversible mental damage that psychoactive drugs often cause.

Also disturbing is Dr Robin Carhart-Harris on addiction: "Depression and addictions rest on reinforced patterns of brain activity, and a psychedelic will reintroduce a relative chaos." I have met thousands of alcoholics and addicts. I cannot imagine that any would have benefited from the sort of treatment he proposes.

Addiction is deep disorder despite the "patterns" he mentions. Introducing further disorder is likely to be harmful, particularly for those in the early stages of recovery, which is when the "patterns" will still be most detectable.

Daniel De Simone

Ashtead, Surrey

General Sir Richard Shirreff's observations ("A spineless lack of leadership", 17 August) about absence of strategy don't just apply to Iraq. Government has lost the art of statecraft. The Prime Minister is incapable of articulating our national interests in a form suitable for action.

The first thing David Cameron has to do in September, is come to the House and show leadership. Articulate our national interests, give his analysis of the nature of the problem of the Eastern Mediterranean and spell out how all government departments will strategically interact to achieve the desired outcome.

And he needs to do that with words which carry meaning, and plans that can be translated into actions. Our armed forces and our voters have a right to expect strategy and leadership from their Prime Minister.

Gisela Stuart

MP Birmingham Edgbaston, Defence Select Committee

Sarah Kane appears to have been under intolerable stress as a person unqualified to deal with high-risk offenders ("Chris Grayling accused of 'murdering the probation service'" 17 August). A friend is experiencing the other side of these reforms. In his fifties with 30 years' experience, he is one of several, similarly aged colleagues being given the sack. He would be pleased to be offered Sarah Kane's job but, as a qualified professional at the top of his grade, he is probably too expensive. When considered with the simmering unrest in our jails, the falseness of these "economies" becomes alarming.

Sue Organ,

Chichester, West Sussex

King Richard III ate and drank in line with the times in which he lived. Many books and his coronation records state these facts, and are confirmed by this study. The headline "The Richard III diet revealed" (17 August) sounds more of a new Paleo diet rather than revealing the diet of King Richard III.

Joe Ann Ricca

Chief executive/president

The Richard III Foundation