<i>IoS</i> letters, emails & online postings (10 October 2010)

Sunday 23 October 2011 06:33

A switch to preventative medicine is well overdue for mental as well as for physical health ("Britain's £100bn mental health crisis", 3 October). The best and cheapest way is to improve the state of public parks and green spaces. In May, researchers at the charity Mind concluded that as little as five minutes of exercise in a green space can boost mental well-being.

However, parks have seen a reduction in budget of more than a third over the past 20 years, and a commensurate drop in their condition. Parks are owned by local authorities, which are faced with unprecedented demand for their services. Pressure to reduce the public debt will see the biggest cuts ever.

New, publicly accountable organisations need to be set up to manage the public realm at prices the local population is willing to pay from its taxes. This has worked in the "world's most liveable city", Vancouver, for the past 120 years, via a city-wide, democratically elected Parks and Recreation Board.

Parks and green spaces should not have to face a future of neglect. The first duty of local authorities is the maintenance of the civic realm and upholding civic pride. The Victorians understood this and the improvements to public health were immense.

Dr Alan Barber


Clients and patients, such as the ones you profile, make it clear in poll after poll that they want to talk to counsellors and psychotherapists. But to get the full range of psychotherapies that our members practise, you have to consider going privately, as hundreds of thousands have done. Why shouldn't NHS patients get the real thing? Psychiatrists and psychologists who seek psychotherapy for themselves or their families almost invariably want something other than short-term behavioural treatment. Health planners should understand the need to retain excellence in the age of the quick fix.

Professor Andrew Samuels

Chairman, United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy, London N19

How encouraging to see Michael Morpurgo highlighting the horrifying experiences of children seeking asylum in Yarl's Wood in his new book ("Morpurgo says child detention shames us all", 3 October). Like him, we are hugely disappointed that after the Government pledged to end child detention in May, and Nick Clegg in July vowed to close the family unit at Yarl's Wood, children are still being detained.

There is no practical reason why the detention of children should not end at once, and we again urge the Government to do so today.

Donna Covey

Chief executive, Refugee Council

London SW9

"Meet the 11-year-old with designs on fashion fame" is a story of parents failing their children (3 October). At the age of 13, children should be acquiring as broad an education as possible to enable them to choose their path in life. Besotted parents empowering these children are preventing their development into rounded adults. Where will these protégés find their motivation at 20? They have had fame and excitement too soon.

Valerie Barnes

Bridport, Dorset

Both Phil Bloomer of Oxfam (Letters, 3 October) and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas ("Let MoD tackle climate, says Lucas", 26 September) ignore the overriding issue of population.

It is difficult for the West to encourage effective family planning and population control without accusations of neo-colonialism, cultural imperialism and Western hegemony. But we need a fundamental debate, with input from medical, legal, theological, philosophical, political and other authorities, on how far we should go in increasing population and prolonging life, in a world of limited space and resources.

John Birkett

St Andrews, Fife

Janet Street-Porter is right to question global sporting competitions such as the Commonwealth Games ("These costly games are all about ego and do nothing for sport", 3 October). The main benefit of ending global competitions would be a reduction in air travel, while smaller events would attract less corruption, crime and terrorism, and would require fewer stadiums to be built that are rarely used again. We need to rethink many institutions and events, to reduce the damage caused by aviation. The United Nations could be run by teleconferencing; chess and bridge competitions could be played via the internet, and we could stop treating international tourism as a good thing, when it is hugely damaging to the climate.

Richard Mountford

Two per cent for the planet

Tonbridge, Kent

Danica McKellar did not "prove a theorem on magnetism" in the Journal of Physics ("Mathematics, the makeover", 3 October). As a physicist, she provided evidence to support her theory of magnetism. Proving theorems is the domain of a journal of mathematics.

Kartar Uppal

West Bromwich, West Midlands

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