The Shoreham air display crash has had a particular impact on Bournemouth, which on the same evening was into the third day of its own far larger air festival.
And this has not been without many complaints over many years. Those who have never had an air display over or near their towns will not know how shattering and terrifying it is to have jets thunderously roar over your home. To quote local media: “Making babies cry and setting off car alarms.”
To add a local twist to the issue, Bournemouth Council has taken the most “vehement” stand against a proposed wind farm 13 miles out to sea, citing “noise disturbance” as one reason to block the proposals. Wind turbines, no larger to the eye than match sticks and inaudible at 13 miles, condemned, but jet turbines roaring over our towns at 1,000 feet welcomed and applauded.
But this local oddity apart, with over 150 fatalities at air shows worldwide since 2002, the only way forward now nationally must be the end of all military display aircraft over land areas, not just, as the CAA has announced, a ban on aerobatics by “vintage” planes.
The horrendous dangers and noise impact are surely never justified near any area of population.
In commenting on the Shoreham air-show disaster (24 August) safety expert David Learmount says the crash of a display jet on to a busy road was “equivalent to being struck by lightning”. An excellent comparison, but not, I suspect, the one he wanted.
On 14 July 2014 there were 3,500 lightning strikes over three hours in the UK. Again just in the UK every year between 30 and 60 people are hit by lightning and there are around five deaths every year. Is that the risk non-participants should take because, David Learmount tells us, “air shows are among the most popular spectator events in Britain”? I think not.
I’ve never heard of a single lightning strike killing 11 people in a most horrible way. We can’t control lightning but we can control air shows. I feel sure that draconian rules on stunt flying will be welcomed by the general public, who have no wish to be killed or maimed so that others may be entertained.
South Nutfield, Surrey
Court charges policy is failing
Criminal court charges are indeed a further blow to victims (“Court fee means crime victims miss payouts”, 24 August). If the result of extortionate charges is that victims are denied compensation for the ordeal they have been through, then surely criminal court charges need to be urgently changed.
To make matters worse, magistrates fear these charges are causing innocent people to plead guilty, leading to miscarriages of justice. Offenders should pay a contribution towards their defence costs, but it is a waste of taxpayers’ money to pursue charges from people who are unlikely to ever have the means to pay. The policy is failing if offenders cannot pay the charges and victims are left out of pocket.
President, the Law Society
Would Blair have been allowed to vote?
The revelation that Labour HQ is busy weeding out supporters and members deemed insufficiently wedded to the “aims and values of the Labour Party” obviously raises the philosophical question as to precisely what beliefs, actions and utterances should render one a bogus interloper.
Prior to the 1997 general election, Tony Blair expressed the quite astounding view that the very emergence of independent labour representation in Parliament in the late 19th century was a “historic mistake”. To this “Labour leader”, the rise of British socialism and the attendant “strange death of Liberal England” was a cause not for celebration but for anguish.
This sentiment led Blair into secret discussions with Paddy Ashdown over forming a Lib-Lab coalition and possible merger of the two parties.
I don’t seem to recall any disciplinary procedures ever being undertaken for this flagrant opposition to Labour’s aims and values.
I voted for Jeremy Corbyn, but I must admit it was a very tight call. After all, the Blairite wing of the Labour Party does have an awful lot to crow about. Its credible economic policies, like the light touch on regulation of the City of London and its fire sale of the nation’s gold, really helped the economy.
We shouldn’t forget the fantastically popular part-privatisation of the NHS through PFI and the introduction of tuition fees for students or the coup de grace of having five wars in five years, one alone of which left 650,000 people dead.
What can the “unelectable” Corbyn offer compared with that?
Labour Party members worry about the effect of Jeremy Corbyn on the long-term health of the party and cite recent history to make their case. I suggest that they are looking in the wrong place.
Margaret Thatcher was elected Conservative Party leader despite the misgivings of party grandees, who consoled themselves that they would soon get rid of her. That proved impossible because she struck a chord in the country, and we all know the outcome. Perhaps the election of Jeremy will strike a similar chord and revitalise our increasingly polarised democracy.
Belmont, Co Durham
In all the talk of disruption in the Labour leadership contest, I have concerns over the quality of our politicians in general.
If Tories and others from the opposite end of the spectrum are joining the Labour Party to disrupt the democratic process, what does this say about these peoples’ values and morals. This is playing games with people’s lives and future.
I’m sure people struggling to buy a house, get a job or just make ends meet are despairing at such irresponsible behaviour from people who wish to lead us. Say what you will of the left-wing and right-wing politicians of the past, at least they fought each other with a sense of service and integrity.
First the candidates for the Labour leadership complain that the party membership is being infiltrated by leftists. Now Andy Burnham complains that it is being infiltrated by supporters of the Conservative Party. So the real question is, which lot are infiltrating the party membership in bigger numbers?
The solution to the problem is simply to have a party without members.I am sure it would suit the leadership contestants if they were not answerable to anybody.
A D Harvey
The German way to run a railway
Janet Street-Porter’s logic (22 August) in reasoning that privatisation will bring down rail fares is as flawed as Jeremy Corbyn’s argument that a return to nationalisation with do the same.
The years of privatisation have proven that the companies will use their monopoly to maximise their profits in what remains a still subsidised industry, while Britain’s record on nationalisation is frankly dismal.
The German rail network is state-controlled with a large element of private capital but the state holding ultimate control. Indeed it owns a British rail company, Arriva trains. This means that our taxpayer-supplied subsidy is going to help the German rail passengers.
Such a mix of private and state involvement can and does work here in Wales, where Welsh Water is ultimately controlled by the taxpayer but managed under a constitution that prevents fat-cat salaries and ensures that profits are reinvested. They announced this year a £1.7bn investment plan combined with an underlying profit of £77m, together, sadly, with 360 redundancies, demonstrating that hard commercial decisions are possible.
There is no reason that either this or the German model could not be used in the UK, except of course, that we have politicians driven by ideology over logic.
Clifford Evans’ letter (25 August) reminds me that cars, buses and lorries run on a “nationalised” roads infrastructure funded by the state. The road users pick up the profits and the taxpayer the bills. Why this fixation on just nationalising the railways when other organisations ride on the state’s back?
Strivers not welcome here
The Government is about to jail illegal migrants for earning a living. That wouldn’t by any chance be the same Government which carefully divided its adult population into Workers and Shirkers, Strivers and Skivers, the Getters-Up and the Lyers-down?
Godfrey H Holmes
Withernsea, East Riding of Yorkshire
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