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Wednesday 18 July 2012
Letters: Brand army told to stand at ease
I am a law-abiding citizen, so just in case I get asked to a meeting with Boris Johnson, should I put it in my diary as "Meeting with the Mayor of (controlled representation)" (letters, 17 July)? To travel there, will it be an offence to display my Oyster card, bearing the words "Transport for London"?
I assume that I would not be able to stop off at a Little Chef for an Olympic Breakfast on the way, but if I went into a pub afterwards, would the landlord and I be guilty of conspiracy if I ordered a pint of London Pride or Summer Ale?
The deployment of the "brand army" is yet another example of the draconian and complex legislation surrounding the Games, and multimillion-pound marketing deals benefiting corporate sponsors.
LOCOG's marketing and business restrictions have already left a bitter taste with businesses stifled by these regulations, and these so-called "experts in trading and advertising" will only damage further the prospects of tens of thousands of small businesses that might otherwise share in the Olympics feelgood factor.
Legislation is necessary to protect the sponsors of the Games, but these overly stringent guidelines are not in the spirit of the Olympics and are creating a climate of fear among smaller business owners.
It is our nation of shopkeepers who will be the real casualties of this crackdown, and the legislation will be detrimental to our Olympic legacy and the British economy.
Head of Research and Information, The Chartered Institute of Marketing, Maidenhead, Berkshire
Your report confuses complex issues about the regulation of advertising, branding and trading during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Olympic Delivery Authority is responsible for enforcing legislation that applies only within a few hundred metres of competition venues, shortly before and during the Games.
Regulation of open-air trading is designed to ensure that spectators can get to the events they have paid to see without delay or obstruction, and authorisation has to be obtained for some types of advertising in the same limited areas to prevent so-called "ambush marketing".
The ODA is employing about 250 specialist enforcement officers to do this at 28 venues and events, in uniforms similar to those of thousands of Games Maker volunteers. Our staff will not be "enforcing multimillion-pound marketing deals" for anyone.
While working for the ODA, they have no responsibility outside these limited "event zones". Enforcing wider rules about branding is a matter for the London Organising Committee, Locog, and local authorities.
Olympic Delivery Authority, London E14
Wrong to mutilate children in the name of religion
A German court has ruled that circumcision of boys could be considered a criminal offence (report, 13 July) because it causes bodily harm and infringes a child's "right to integrity".
Quite right, most people would think, as do most Germans, an opinion poll shows. But it prompted the president of the European Conference of Rabbis to suggest that because of this ruling, "Jews and Muslims were no longer socially acceptable in Europe".
Then Jewish and Muslim leaders claimed it was "an affront to our basic religious and human rights". Even the Green Party came out in defence of the practice by wanting laws to guarantee the right to circumcision on religious grounds.
How can anyone, especially in what we think of as civilised Europe, consider it acceptable to permit the mutilation of young children in the name of religion? Do we care about children's rights? Let grown adults mutilate themselves for whatever reason, maybe, but let adults do this to children?
If a parent tried snipping off parts of their four-year-old child's body, they'd be in court and the child in care. But claim some special divine exemption in the name of a religious belief and what otherwise would be child abuse is perfectly fine.
The circumcision of young girls is generally considered unacceptable and is widely campigned against, but circumcision of young boys? It is no longer good enough to use religion as justification for the abuse of children. It's time we all woke up and got real.
Carving the genitals of children to mark them with the religion of their parents is a violation of their religious freedom and autonomy. Genital cutting of children is also a violation of their most basic human rights.
Vancouver, British Columbia
G4S cash better spent on police
If the £280m paid to G4S had been passed to our police forces then security at the Olympics would have been prepared and performed by professionals.
The police are trained and experienced in managing safety and security of crowds of excitable people at football matches and other events often exceeding 100,000. Our armed forces have little or no training in crowd control and safety.
Had this money gone to our police forces a year ago, the redundancy of 6,000 officers could have been delayed and recruitment and training of new officers could have been accelerated. The CEO of G4S has apologised, but he did not fully explain why the staff he has recruited for security at the Games do not, in many cases, have any relevant training; many do not have command of English.
As in the case of all privatisations of national assets, public services and national security the profits have been privatised and the debts have been nationalised. The taxpayer will pick up the cost and the companies will pick up the profit.
The security at the Olympic Games should never have been handed to a private company. Our national reputation and people's security has been put at risk on the altar of privatisation and profit.
Jihadists have poisoned the well
Owen Jones's impassioned plea against Islamophobia (13 July) had its heart in the right place. Yet the nation's fear of attack is not without good cause. Because of previous Islamist "martyrs" we now have an aircraft carrier on the Thames, and the deployment of helicopter gunships as well as Tornados waiting to be scrambled. Passenger flights worldwide are preceded by massive neurotic security in which even very young children must divest themselves of belts, boots, and liquid containers.
Jihadists have poisoned the well even more than the IRA, the latter at least not being inclined to suicide. Add to this the extremes of sharia law such as amputation for theft and stoning for adultery, honour killing of dissenting daughters in certain communities, and a general prejudice against Muslims soon becomes easily explicable among the rest of the population.
The fear lingers because we have been warned that somewhere among the Islamist community are people who would love to kill as many of us non-believers as possible and would do so at the first opportunity.
Withernsea, East Yorkshire
Cruelty of closing Remploy factories
Faced with the eloquent arguments of both your correspondents (letters, 11 July) it is hard to imagine that the Government can bulldoze through its ill-conceived plan to close the Remploy factories, which have served the disabled so well.
Maria Miller, the Disability Minister, seems impervious to all arguments. A party that can inflict such heartless cruelty on the most vulnerable, and try to disguise it as an improvement, when it is nothing more than a penny-pinching money grab, is not one that can be trusted with the wellbeing of the citzens of this country, and I hope that that will feature in people's thinking when they next come to the ballot box.
The disabled lobby is well-organised and powerful, and I hope the Government will be held to account for the fate of all those dispossessed of work, independence and companionship if the factories do close. A reversal of this decision would be a very welcome U-turn.
Nick Boles is not only intent on robbing older people of their independence and dignity by abolishing pensioner benefits. He also attacked the "lazy sentimentalism" of Sure Start centres for children.
This not only lends further weight to the impression of a resurgent Nasty Party tendency in the Conservatives. It also underlines that the wealthy public school-educated Mr Boles and his ilk are hopelessly out of touch with the reality of ordinary people's lives.
Mr Boles also reminds us why the Conservatives failed to gain a majority at the last election and last won outright victory more than two decades ago. The more Nick Boles opens his mouth in public, the more likely a majority Conservative government will soon be unknown to anybody under 40.
You report (14 July) that in Newark the DoE stated that "the new school would be banned from teaching creationism in science classes, but it would be allowed in religious education lessons". How can the Government, in pursuing its ideological commitment to free schools, get away with such nonsense and dissembling?
Ty Newydd, Vale of Glamorgan
Brian Roberts (Open Jaw, July 14) misunderstands hub airports. Airlines that "support" Northern airports are only feeding passengers to their own hubs, KLM to Amsterdam, Lufthansa to Frankfurt and so on. Northern airports are just spokes for full-service airlines, not hubs. By opening a new link to Leeds, BA is actually supporting Northern airports by enabling more Northerners to connect into its network hub in London?
Good for Trump
Donald Trump has to be congratulated for the £100m he spent on his golf course which is great for Scotland. I can also understand his objection to the wind farm. Wind farms are not easy on the eye, but the people around Chernobyl and Fukushima would wish that was their only concern.
Buck never stops
It has been an amazing year for hearing senior executives, all paid fantastic sums for managing their businesses, deny any responsibility or knowledge of what is happening below them, matched by government ministers making similar claims and all exhibiting a shared collective amnesia.
Eye'll keep watch
I've enjoyed the letters on the train warnings in different countries and how these can reflect national character. At Bradford, I saw a notice at eye-level on the door, "Smile, you're on CCTV".
Artillery pointing skywards; RAF stations ready for anything; everyone grumbling and getting on with the job. Reminds me of old times (I'm 84).
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