We want the North to flourish. We agree with the Chancellor that devolving more power to northern cities and regions is integral to that.
Taking on more responsibility for improving public services and growing our local economies means working in partnership with our communities and our workforce – in ways that are right for the areas we represent. So we fail to understand why the Government wishes to tell us how we should manage relationships with the unions that represent our employees – especially in relation to the option to pay union subscriptions through payrolls and allowing facility time for union representatives.
The arrangements we have with unions representing public service workers have proved their value time and again, particularly in this time of extreme pressure on budgets. Good employment relations are essential for high-quality public services. We want the freedom to agree partnership arrangements that work for our local areas without micro-management from Whitehall.
Simon Henig Chair, North East Combined Authority; Tony Lloyd Interim Mayor, Greater Manchester Combined Authority; Phil Davies Chair, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority; Peter Box Chair, West Yorkshire Combined Authority; Stephen Houghton Chair, Sheffield City Region Combined Authority
There are consistent reports of plans by Labour MPs to oust Jeremy Corbyn. One issue that might prompt a rebellion, apparently, is Corbyn’s position on nuclear weapons. I voted Labour in spite of, not because of, any party support for Trident. It seems that a majority of the population may oppose renewing Trident. Many more might oppose it if it was debated properly. The same argument probably applies to other policies, eg a national bank, a crackdown on immoral tax evasion or the military aspects of foreign policy.
I got excited about UK politics – and joined a party (Labour) for the first time – at the age of 60, after Jeremy Corbyn got elected. I would be disappointed and angry if he were manoeuvred out by New Labour.
I agree with your leading article “Lloyd Webber strikes right note” (1 November) that the justification of using public money for a new concert hall in London is misguided. Let’s get back to musical basics and foster education with the inherent need and desire to “get creative” and not solely focus on exams. Children and young people need a rounded, fully imagined curriculum. Money spent in this way is money well spent.
Judith A Daniels
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
If George Osborne has eight “special advisers” who are “political appointees” costing a total of £500,000 a year, he could save £2.5m this parliament if he were to get rid of them (“Does George really need this many helping hands?”, 1 November). Why should any minister need “specialist” or “political” advisers? They have an army of civil servants to give them advice. If ministers feel they do need “Spads”, they should be paid either from the minister’s pocket, or, at least, by their party. Why should taxpayers pay for them?
D J Taylor comes close to repeating the disparaging comments made by Martin Amis on Jeremy Corbyn’s education (“Like learning, a ‘Mart-attack’ is not what it was”, 1 November). He recalls telling James Callaghan, “I’m thinking of going to Oxford.” “There are other places, you know,” Callaghan replied. D J Taylor accounts for this reply in terms of the prime minister’s sense of intellectual inferiority. The poor fellow had not been to university. But Callaghan was on to something. Like Anthony Giddens and Roy Hattersley, I studied at the University of Hull. Perhaps D J Taylor should pay a visit and mull over what the prime minister was trying to tell him.
Congratulations to Christopher Fowler on notching up 300 Invisible Ink columns. An unmissable part of my weekend reading, Invisible Ink has opened my eyes to some memorable reading experiences.
Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
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