Unfair levy

Dear Editor,

Liberal Democrats have slammed local Conservative MP Kit Malthouse decision to break his promise to the electorate and vote for a 1.25% rise in National Insurance. Mr Malthouse was one of the 317 Conservative MPs to support these plans. The changes, which go against the Conservatives’ manifesto promise not to raise taxes, will mean hard-pressed local families and small businesses will be left paying hundreds of pounds more in tax each year.

Liberal Democrats voted against the government plans, arguing that they fail to fix the ongoing social care crisis. We are calling for a cross-party agreement on social care, to find a long-term solution to funding high-quality care for everyone who needs it.

The lack of detail in the government proposals suggest that this is going to be more of a tax grab rather than a workable solution to fix social care. There are three reasons that it will not work. There will be no new money for social care for three years as the initial focus is recovering from pandemic backlogs within the NHS. Local authorities are responsible for funding social care yet have been seeing their central government grants progressively cut such that many are effectively bankrupt, including Hampshire. Finally, there is no guarantee of the necessary capacity building required in the NHS and care system with the result that the money will be frittered away.

The Conservatives stood on a clear promise at the last election not to raise taxes, including National Insurance. Now they have voted to break that promise by hitting hard-pressed families and small businesses in North West Hampshire with a tax hike at a time many are still reeling from the impact of the pandemic. Our people deserve better than this. They need MPs who they can trust and who will fight for a fairer deal for our area.

Liberal Democrats opposed these unjust plans in Parliament. We have been clear about how to fix the social care crisis in a fairer way, instead of hiking taxes on those who can least afford it. We want to see cross-party talks on how to fund social care in a fair and sustainable way, along with urgent action to fix the staffing crisis in care homes and give unpaid carers the recognition they deserve.

Cllr Luigi Gregori

Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesperson

North West Hampshire

Give councillors training

Dear Editor,

As a former town councillor who has sat on planning committees there is one reform that I would like to see and that is that like borough councillors, town and parish councillors should have training first.

I have seen first-hand how clueless some new councillors have been in understanding the rules and seeming embarrassed at their lack of knowledge.

Whilst the government has many priorities this is a reform that is long overdue and it would be interesting to hear what other councillors and ex-councillors and the general public have to say about this issue.

Secondly, on a different subject, I would be pleased to hear from other readers who have experienced extraordinary coincidences and premonitions. All replies will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Richard J. Kidd, Andover.

Delivery delays

Dear Editor,

It has been well over a week (almost 10 days) since the Royal Mail has made any letter deliveries in the Conholt Road, Picton Road and Barlows Lane areas of Andover. Parcel deliveries are seen occasionally - last Sunday evening was the last one in the Conholt Road area. This is not the first time that letter deliveries have become haphazard.

Apparently the Collection Office on Bridge Street is closed until further notice due to a leaking roof- clearly a disaster area! Therefore, residents cannot collect their mail in person.

Calls to the Royal Mail Customer Help line have a waiting time of 40 minutes, so don’t bother even trying to report a problem.

Please can someone tell us what is going on. Quite frankly, the Royal Mail is not meeting its contract and must be brought to account. Contract renewal should not be based upon historical or traditional evidence but on current performance. Time for a review methinks.

Mike Ryan, Conholt Road, Andover

Helpers needed

Dear Editor,

Since the restrictions of the Covid Pandemic were lifted applications to join scouting in Andover have gone crazy. Andover District Scouts are of course delighted to welcome these young people into Scouting, but we are finding it difficult to find places for them all. In fact some sections have waiting list of over a year to join. To reduce the waiting time to join we need more adults to come forward to join our Leadership Teams. Could you be one of those people, are you aged 18 and over, we have no upper age limit, so if you are newly retired with time on your hands then this could be for you. For younger people it always looks good on any job application. We ensure that support and training is given for any role you may take on.

If you are interested or want to learn more then pop in to a group near you or contact me by email DC.Andover@hampshirescouts.org.uk for more information on how you can help the young people get to enjoy the “skills for life” and fun and adventure that scouting can give.

Julian Slade

District Commissioner Andover

Thank you to villagers

Dear Editor,

Might I please have some space to praise some wonderful people from our village [Shipton Bellinger].

Firstly a big thank you to the folk that managed the coffee pot this week, hooray we are open again and so good to be with friends and chat about the downside and upside of lockdown. Although there was only a few of us it was great to mix and mingle.

Secondly a whopping great thank you to Diane and all of the WI members, I have been asked to pass on heaps of praise to the fabulous Christine Heaton who has worked like a Trojan to organise things and events. I am so proud of the village people for turning out in great numbers for this get together it makes it all worthwhile. We all had a wonderful day and thank you to our lovely Sharon who always welcomes Ken and I. We all love her; she’s a delight. It was nice to share the day with Helen and Roy Batterby, now living in Andover. The parish council helped to organise the day, thank you to Sue Turner for Sunday zoom coffee pot while it’s all been locked down.

Thank you and God bless you all; for all that you do for the village. Thank you to the Andover Advertiser for printing write ups.

Josie Smith, Hedges Close, Shipton Bellinger

Shout out to pub supporting LGBTQ people

Dear Editor,

Please can I recommend the Southampton Arms, Andover, for their outstanding effort and support for the LGBTQ community and Pride Month, that I have seen on their site.

It’s amazing. The pub needs some good positive feedback... they do bands, live music, kaaroke, two pool tables, darts, a lovely back garden and front terrace, roast dinners on a Sunday, eat in or take out, cheap drinks, and fundraising. They have amazing staff and landlady and door staff. They’re still struggling after Covid and need some recognition. Check their Facebook site out.

Name and address supplied

Climate catastrophe

Dear Editor,

It’s easy to be complaisant and ignore the climate crisis when it isn’t in your own backyard. The reality is that the problem is global and it’s affecting all of us with extreme weather conditions and future pandemics.

Scientists are alarmed at the rate of the fires in the Amazon rainforest which can be seen from space. The Amazon is in danger of turning into a dry savannah plummeting our global climate into further chaos. At the rate of this destruction mostly for livestock feed and cattle we will eventually run out of land and food and we are creating the perfect conditions for future pandemics and fuelling the climate crisis.

Politicians are proving useless at stopping the assault on the most precious eco system in the world that controls the weather. Greedy corporations like Tesco continue to exploit the Amazon rainforest for profit while lying to their customers.

The UK Government has the power to change the situation and we as consumers have a greater power to influence change. As consumers if we decided to stop buying meat or meat fed on soya from the Amazon the sales would plummet and there wouldn’t be a need to destroy the Amazon rainforest.

Consumers must decide whether to stop a climate catastrophe or continue fuelling the climate crisis. Our choice!

Jeannette Schael, address supplied

Harvesting memories

Dear Editor,

Harvesting has this week brought in wonderful memories of the days when summer harvesting brought in local folk, in our villages, to assist with the reaping of ripe crops. In my home we do, in fact, still have a scythe used for threshing in the past which I see remains used in some countries, depending on the crop.

We recalled from our past times that tractors only were used, being the machinery to help sew the fields. With all local folk and friends collecting and helping to stack the tall grain ready to pile on the trailer.

In our memories and chats, we also recalled the burning of fields of stalks. That doesn’t happen now, the stalks can be reused as mulch, compost or animal food, I hear.

As a little girl my joy was running round playing games, to at times be followed by mice or rabbits leaping so high and running as fast as possible, as the tractors rolled on by.

The noon break had all laying back leaning against a stack of corn or hay with cheddar cheese sandwiches, coated in pickle and tomatoes and a cool beer or cow’s milk, perhaps homemade cider or juice.

In those days labouring was so intensive manually, yet laughter and smiling faces brings in great memories of the neighbourly folk working so hard, together. I can’t recall farmers being stressed then, sharing their days was always enjoyable.

The farm owners we were friends with also held a special gathering in a barn dance. I found a photo of their Golden Wedding anniversary. A picture full of smiles and joy. Memories sure come in of how countryside village life gathered many to enjoy, dancing and singing between stacks of straw.

With our fairly dry weather through this year’s harvesting, I took some photos of the dedicated workers labouring. Walking around Old Sarum the wide open views of the green field backgrounds, reflect the corns faded yellows and smoky grey dust blowing from the combine harvesters, capturing memories and stunning views.

In our local village, Fyfield, I am amazed at how the combine harvesters roll on by, through such narrow lanes, yet in firm directions as nature calls all, as it is time to sew which seems more important than those needing to ‘get to work’.

I have also experienced recently the enormous, harvesting machinery needing an extra van in front, to warn all drivers such a huge vehicle was approaching. In my little car, it was time to let all go by, as nature was in control.

So, nature calls, as with the virus, is our priority letting our land take the call? As in the past, hard labour worked under all that nature can need to thrive and provide for all.

Linda Price, Fyfield

Ironic Brexit

Dear Editor,

Brexit is done. But that does not prevent it from being calamitous for the UK economy.

Can you believe it? Supermarket product lines are finishing. When this happened in eastern Europe the British used to laugh. Now the laughter is flowing in the other direction.

And, then, what irony: the UK development sector is the greatest sponsor of the Conservative Party. The governing Tories did Brexit. The development sector is now also squawking because of Brexit supply chain issues: well, what the hell did you expect?

Ireland could reunify in the next 20 years. Prior to 2016 this would not have happened until the next century, if at all. Ironic, isn’t it?

Scotland could secede in the next 10 years. Perhaps, irony upon irony, it will ultimately be these threats to UK territorial integrity that bring the country to its senses, forcing it to re-join the EU. But that’s a way into the future. Plenty more shocks before then.

A couple of years ago I sat with our Conservative MP in Andover Guildhall. Brexit? Yes, of course it would be alright, said he. It’s not, is it?

Brexit may be done, but the irony is, so is the country. We really need these dogmatic, blustering Tories out.

Ray Bryant, Berry Way, Andover

BT must not neglect minority

Dear Editor,

I write in reference to your article of September 3 2021, “Switch off Concern”.

I live in a rural area where internet connectivity is very poor and intermittent, as is the mobile phone network.

2025 is not that far in the future - is there any guarantee that reception will be improved in such small pockets of the population before the landline/lifeline is turned off?

I do hope BT does not neglect the minority in their push to turn off landlines - we all deserve a level playing field.

Sally Curry, Snoddington Farmhose, Snoddington Lane, Shipton Bellinger