Cow Common

Dear Editor,

I regularly meet my children and grandchildren at Cow Common and did so yesterday only to discover that the car park was closed and that the common was littered with over-zealous signage that would have been more appropriate in North Korea rather than rural Hampshire.

The combination of car park closure and aggressive signs indicate that the parish council would prefer to deter visitors rather than welcome them.

The playground, on a lovely summer day in the school holidays, was deserted. It was inaccessible due to the lack of parking.

I gained the distinct impression that families with children are regarded as an irritating inconvenience in this beautiful spot. The parish council would do well to dwell on a major tactical error that has strategic consequences.

Richard P Cousens, Warminster

Gun tragedy

Dear Editor,

Following the tragic incident in Plymouth, my thoughts remain with the families of those who died and the police officers who were first on the scene. This cannot and must not happen again.

Hampshire Constabulary require a GP reference to be included when firearms licences are made, before issuing or processing gun licences. Previously when GP references were requested after an application was processed, very few GPs responded. The point of the reference is to assess a person’s suitability to own a firearm and enable any mental health issues to be considered.

Furthermore, if someone in possession of a firearm licence seeks help and support from their GP for any mental health related issue, their GP is obliged to report the mental health issue to Hampshire Constabulary’s Firearms unit for revocation of the licence. By insisting on a GP reference at the point of application, Hampshire Constabulary has built in an additional layer of protection for the public.

Donna Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and Isle of Wight

Dark time?

I am writing in response to the news item about Hampshire PCC’s idea of ‘additional layer of protection’ in county’ gun licensing.

Apart from people like gamekeepers, farmers, the military and the police why does anyone need a gun?

If you practice shooting as a sport, it should be done at a shooting range and the guns locked away securely.

This awful tragedy in Plymouth - with innocent victims and their families having to pay the biggest price - should never have happened.

There are many complex factors including guns, severe mental health problems, dangerous misogyny and lack of proper policing.

We need to look at all these issues not just gun licensing. A very sad and dark time in our country’s history.

Claire Champion

System failure

I am writing in response to the news item about a man found dead in a car park while in respite car (Husband failed by hospice - report, page 5, August 13).

So sad [about this news]. They [Countess of Brecknock Hospice in the grounds of Andover Hospital] were amazing when my mum was there. The matron and the whole team were so attentive and kind to us all.

It’s just so tragic that there was no alarm system on the door as the staff would have known something was wrong. I don’t think it can be blamed on any one person as they work such long hours and have been under a lot of strain. It’s a complex system failure.

I’m sure the whole team will be utterly gutted that this happened. I feel sad for the family who will, of course, want answers and ensure this never happens again.

Kristen Henderson

COP26 summit

Dear Editor,

It’s difficult to ignore the news spread across the media with images of apocalyptic proportions in Europe and America due to global warming with the worst yet to come according to the UN’s scientific report on climate change. The consequences are felt across the globe, the UK could be next.

The UK is hosting the crucial COP26 global climate summit this year. The government says it’s leading the world on climate change, but is it really? According to Greenpeace, the UK Government is below expectations or failing on fossil fuels and green energy, failing on forests and oceans and plastic pollutions to name a few.

It’s time to take immediate action! We need to commit to end new oil and gas licences, come up with real plans and investment in green homes, green jobs, green energy, green transport and for a smooth, fair transition away from fossil fuels.

Regulate banks and financial institutions to stop them funding climate wrecking industries and introduce legally-binding targets to reverse the decline of UK nature by 2030. Also, increase financial support for climate action abroad, to support communities on the front line of the crisis.

This year COP26 must succeed for the sake of our own existence, otherwise, as Greta Thunberg, Climate and environmental activist, put it: “If we don’t change, we are ******”

Jeannette Schael, Crookham Close, Tadley

Railway price rise

Dear Editor,

South Western Railway is quietly changing the rules for super off-peak travel from September, meaning significant fare rises for passengers arriving into Waterloo before 2pm. For some, this will mean price increases of up to 27 per cent. As an alternative, some routes have a Semi-Flex option, but this is more restrictive as it only allows travel on a specific service and with no break of journey permitted on the outward leg.

I am struggling to understand the rationale or logic behind the decision. Earlier this year, the government published plans intended to simplify the fares system and offer better value tickets. We also know that the rail industry is struggling to regain travellers lost since the first lockdown in March 2020, while car journeys are now back to pre-pandemic levels. We believe that fares need to become more affordable to make rail travel competitive against other modes of transport. A policy of increasing prices through the backdoor will do little to stimulate demand or regain public trust. It’s a hugely disappointing decision, and I urge the government to step in and reverse these changes.

Jeremy Varns, Campaigns Coordinator, South Western Railway Watch

Grief support

Dear Editor,

With National Grief Awareness Day on August 30, I’d like to highlight Cats Protection’s grief support service for cat owners.

Now in its fifth year, Paws to Listen is there for anyone facing the heartbreak of losing their cat, struggling with issues like euthanasia, or whose cat has gone missing. It is a free and confidential service, connecting callers with a volunteer listener over the telephone or via email.

Pet loss is not always fully recognised in society as a significant loss, causing many to be reluctant to talk about their grief.

This year, our Paws to Listen service is being supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. I’d like to say a huge thank you to them for their continued support, which is also helping us to take care of cats at our centres and speak up for cats through our campaigning work.

The Paws to Listen phone line is open 9am-5pm Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays) and can be reached on 0800 024 94 94. Alternatively, people can get in touch via an online form at:

Catherine Joyce, Paws to Listen Team Leader, Cats Protection