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Questions to ask

AHEAD of the General Election, 32 equality and human rights organisations have joined together to publish a Manifesto for Women and Girls.

There has been progress on equality for women in the last 50 years, but there is so much more to do and far from being a women’s issue, women’s equality benefits everyone.

The manifesto highlights entrenched and widespread problems which make for uncomfortable reading. Behind the shocking statistics lies the everyday experiences of many women and girls.

The manifesto is designed to support voters in talking about these issues with their political candidates irrespective of their party.

One of the five priorities is lifting women and children out of poverty. You have reported recently on the rise in demand for foodbanks in the area and the latest figures from End Child Poverty show that in north Wiltshire constituencies, one in four or five children now live in poverty.

It also calls for an end to violence against women and girls in a year when nationally, domestic killings are at a five-year high and rape convictions are at a ten-year low, despite the number of reports increasing to almost 60,000 a year. The Home Office estimates the economic and social cost of domestic abuse alone is £66bn a year.

I urge people to read the manifesto which is brief and powerful, and to press their parliamentary candidates for policy changes which will support equality for women.

Caroline Barlow, Women’s Equality Party member, The Hamlet, Chippenham

Christian vote call

THERE are many Christians who read your newspaper who can be an influential force in the forthcoming General Election. They have already been given a clear message from the Gospels to put themselves last and to place their neighbour first, especially if their neighbour has a much greater need.

Can I therefore ask all who own an allegiance to a loving Christ to initially wipe clean their present political slate. Delete all past party or voting allegiance and attachments to any of the candidates.

Then begin to pray seriously, and in praying to look closely at the world and its people around you. Notice the needs of the many who have difficulty in putting food on the table to feed their family. See those, who because of poverty, cannot find a home to live in or are forced to live in appalling, cramped conditions.

Recognise those who suffer mental or other illnesses and find it extremely difficult to access treatment. Feel for those who need and give care every day but who are denied the resources, dignity and respite they desperately need.

Sleep with those many who have been made homeless who lay each night on cold pavements, or at best in a crowded hostel. Have a thought for those who have succumbed to an addiction to blot out their lives of despair and have no one to turn to for help.

Experience the fear of refugees who have fled from persecution or conflict who are treated by our authorities with contempt and live with the constant threat of being deported to an unsafe place.

When you have prayed and tried to stand in the shoes of such as these, and many more who currently find life so very difficult, please then, and only then, consider very, very carefully which of the political parties have in the past and is likely in the future to be the one which has some semblance of humanity and compassion in its veins.

Which party, by really sharing and caring, will definitely make a difference to those in our society who have needs so much greater than yours and who today lead such disadvantaged lives.

Also ask yourself which party has leaders that are honest and trustworthy and have the integrity to deliver what they may promise to bring positive changes to improve those many lives blighted by a lack of fairness and justice in the years just gone by.

The manifesto of Christ opposes greed and selfishness and promotes policies to enrich the lives of those who currently lead disadvantaged lives.

Christians can vote, not for the good of themselves and those who already have a good life, but to bring about a positive outcome for the weak and vulnerable in our country who struggle every day, in various ways, because they have been disregarded and not treat with appropriate compassion, humanity and dignity in the past.

Christians, please pray and then make a real difference by the way you vote in this election that many who have for so long been forgotten and neglected may soon experience new hope for a more worthwhile life

Alan Scotford, Marshfield Road, Chippenham

Stop misleading us

FRIDAY I received yet another general election leaflet from Dr Brian Mathew, this time by post, where does the Liberal Democrat Party get all of its funds from?

With yet again another half page on the misleading voting intentions showing Dr Brian Mathew yet again predicting there was only a four per cent margin between the constituency MP James Gray and himself, as Mr Phillips points out it’s nonsense and very misleading and shouldn’t be allowed.

I would like to state that I am not a Conservative, I have been in the past rather rudely accused of being one when I have criticised Brian Mathew’s widely misleading claims about the sizes of marches he has been on.

The misleading claims deliberately made on election leaflets are shocking and makes people even more cynical of politicians, they will be found out, just as the Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson has been caught out being a climate change hypocrite, whilst saying frequent fliers should be taxed on their flights, she herself has flown 77 times from Scotland to Westminster, just 23 train trips in the same period. She has of course claimed for those flights to the tune of £9,435 from Parliament.

Stuart Eels, John Aubrey Close, Yatton Keynell

Come and meet us

IT DOES what it says on the tin. Pewsey Vale Community Crafts and Tea Rooms that is.

We are pleased to say that as well as providing a warm and safe place to share tea, homemade cakes and conversation, this volunteer run project has been able to donate over £10,000 to local charities this year.

If you would like to become a volunteer and be part of our friendly team, please pop in and see us for more information.

Jackie Stephens, Pewsey

Cat’s eyes answer?

PAUL Putnam asks what other readers think of the accidents at Baldham Bridge, Seend after another bridge hit. As he says, the road has been recently resurfaced with the advice Cat’s Eyes Removed during the work.

The assumption was that they would be replaced but apparently not. So, new lines which don’t appear too bright, no cat’s eyes. So in murky, foggy or wet weather some drivers will not easily see the road bends. Perhaps some SLOW signage on the road surface or Dangerous Bends stand alone signs would help.

Likewise in Bath Road, Devizes, approaching Prison Bridge from the town centre, the white lines are almost worn out and again no cat’s eyes on what has continued to be a hazardous chicane for some drivers. Would it not be more cost-effective to install cat’s eyes in these most dangerous spots rather than incurring continued expense and disruption and worse?

Or is the stance that cat’s eyes would come out of council budgets whereas post accident repairs are covered by insurance costs.

Bryan Holloway, Devizes

Speak out on HIF

IN recent weeks Wiltshire Council has been attempting to justify the Housing Infrastructure Bid by holding consultative meetings at various locations in Chippenham to gauge the support for this ring road. This is a little bit late, the horse has bolted and the stable door is firmly shut.

It appears that there was no public consultation prior to their bid, and one of the criteria for the HIF award was that there was public support for such a road. This bid process was completed behind closed doors in secret and with a few Chippenham town councillors invited to attend, and of course the developers. Local parish councils were not engaged, and it is those parish councils that will bear the brunt of this road carving up the Marden Valley, impacting on the habitat for the flora and fauna.

Land to the east of Chippenham where the council proposes to build 7,500 houses, and a million sq ft of concrete for employment land will remove the green lungs of Chippenham. The disused railway line is used for recreation by the able and disabled who enjoy the safety and fresh air and to see the countryside, any restriction or building adjacent to the cycle track will be to the detriment of many who use it.

I would urge those of you who attend at any of the venues to express your concern as to the loss of amenity land, which is so beneficial to the health and well being of many in the local area. And strongly state that you do NOT support such a road.

Ian James, Bremhill Parish Councillor

It’s council’s fault

I AM really shocked with people’s attitudes to the flooding on the roads and they all accuse the government saying it’s their fault, but they should be blaming the local council.

Years ago I watched council workmen cutting the hedges back, and the grass and as they went along the workmen would pick up all the branches and bracken from the ditches, leaving them clean and soakaways clear so that all the water had somewhere to go.

Today they cut the hedges with high powered tractors and leave the ditches full of rubbish causing the roads to flood, so please start emptying the ditches and cleaning up after the hedges and grass have been cut.

Put the pride back in the job and take the rubbish away.

Mr A. Williams, Victoria Park, Great Cheverell

Denial is too risky

ROWLAND Pantling’s letter about Extinction Rebellion and climate action (‘It’s brainwashing’, November 21) raises several issues.

Of course, he’s right to point out that the action of any single country won’t, in itself, make a definitive difference; climate is a global problem, and needs global action.

But the quickest, fairest and most effective policy – Carbon Fee and Dividend (or Climate Income) would not only support that global action, but also, far from ‘costing hundreds of billions,’ result in a net gain for the economy. This policy simply puts a rising price on fossil fuels – and gives the revenue back, in equal shares, to citizens.

Recently voted in for a second time by 2/3rds of Canadians, it has already been shown to reduce emissions even while providing more jobs and economic growth. It rewards green choices, incentivises green businesses, and protects those on low incomes.

As for the global impact mentioned, the policy includes border carbon adjustments that penalize carbon-intensive imports in a way that economists assure us will incentivise importing countries to take similar action, while protecting UK business.

Meanwhile, the subsequent reduction in pollution actually saves not only hard cash – lots of it – through reduced health costs and lost working hours – but actual lives and hopes.

As ‘tackling pollution’ is a concern that Mr Pantling endorses wholeheartedly, this should interest him particularly.

But mainly, with reference to his concern that the threat of climate change is over-blown, I would ask him to think of this as an insurance policy.

If he is wrong, and we do nothing, our children face a cataclysm.

But if he is right, and we climate activists are wrong, what then? If we achieve all our aims, and it was totally unnecessary, we’d still have a cleaner, healthier environment, with fossil fuel reserves left safely in the ground for the use of future generations.

I hope he and all your readers will join me in thinking this is a choice worth taking, and an outcome worth working for.

Judy Hindley, Co-Founder, Citizens’ Climate Lobby UK, Kingsbury Street, Marlborough