Gazette Letters

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DOING WELL ON LEWIS

Sir, – A friend tells me lapwings are in plentiful supply on Lewis, which is good news, for hereabouts they’ve completely disappeared.

These birds were found everywhere on agricultural land, and various suggestions have been offered as to their demise, e.g. poor breeding seasons or changes to farming practice.

I just wonder if any link has been established between pesticide use and the lapwing situation.

Toxicity in the food chain might either kill the bird or interfere with its reproductive processes, leading to wholesale wipe-out.

On Lewis I imagine there would be little, if any, pesticide use. – Yours, etc.,

Keith Fernie

Inverness

SNP GENERAL ELECTION

Sir, – Is the SNP expecting our vote in the General Election, the Commons vote for which their party chose to abstain from?

Is this rank hypocrisy or have I missed something? – Yours, etc.,

J Casey

Inverness

PETITION

Sir, – As one of the UK’s largest homelessness charities, we want to let your readers know about how they can help people who are homeless by supporting St Mungo’s new campaign, Save Hostels Rebuild Lives.

St Mungo’s is asking people to sign a petition that urges the Government to think again on plans that will reform the way that hostels for homeless people are funded, potentially leaving vulnerable people at risk of rough sleeping.

Supported housing projects, such as hostels, give people with complex or multiple physical and mental health needs a safe place to stay to recover from homelessness and rebuild their lives.

A Government Green Paperwill outline how supported housing projects will be funded in the future and the St Mungo’s petition is urging the Government to ensure that services are not put at further risk in this latest funding change.

Our St Mungo’s vision is that everyone has a place to call home and can fulfil their hopes and ambitions. We provide a bed and support to more than 2500 people a night who are either homeless or at risk, and work to prevent homelessness.

Visit www.mungos.org/savehostels for further information or to sign our petition. – Yours, etc.,

Jennean Alkadiri

Campaigns Manager, St Mungo’s

EXPERIMENTS

Sir, – To mark World Day for Animals in Laboratories on April 24, Animal Aid launched a new campaign called ‘Mice Matter’.

The campaign aims to educate people about the sensitivity of mice; how this cannot be accommodated in laboratories; how mice deserve the same consideration as other animals and how they differ from humans.

Animal Aid will also debunk the myths around the use of mice in research.

The species differences between mice and humans are myriad, which makes research on mice highly unreliable. Some common conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, do not occur naturally in mice, yet mice are still used in Alzheimer’s research.

In an article in the Times, an academic stated, of mice ‘models’ of Alzheimer’s: “You’re creating a problem that doesn’t exist in the mouse at all. You create the problem, you remove the problem.”

He reportedly likened this to placing a plastic bag over someone’s head to simulate breathing problems, saying “It’s easy to cure – you take the plastic bag off the head. But what have you really done?”

Animal Aid is asking people to contact us to request copies of our new leaflet, which explains the plight of the mice in laboratories and why they should not be used in experiments.

Please call us on 01732 364546 or email info@animalaid.org.uk. – Yours, etc.,

Jessamy Korotoga

Campaign Manager, Animal Aid

ROYAL MAIL

Sir, – I am writing to let you and your readers know about another major initiative that Royal Mail has launched to protect consumers from scam mail.

Scam mail involves professional fraudsters sending, often convincing, letters that are designed to trick people out of money or other valuables. Scam mail can include bogus competitions and fake prize draws encouraging people to buy products to qualify for a prize which does not exist.

Last November, Royal Mail launched an industry-wide code of practice in conjunction with National Trading Standards, to crack down on scam mail. Since then, Royal Mail – supported by the National Trading Standards Scams Team – has successfully stopped more than 700,000 scam items from reaching its customers.

Royal Mail has also started to proactively contact households it believes are receiving high volumes of scam mail. The latest anti-scam initiative will initially focus on the most-impacted customers.

Under the scheme, Royal Mail will block and impound suspected scam mail at its major distribution centres before it reaches the customer’s letterbox. Legitimate business and personal mail will continue to be delivered to customers as normal.

Impacted customers will be able to contact a dedicated Royal Mail helpline at 0800 085 8003, for information if they have any concerns. They can also arrange a home visit from Royal Mail staff.

We are also relying on local communities to play a role in defeating the scammers. We are supporting Friends Against Scams, a National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team initiative, which aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams by empowering communities to take a stand.

If readers have any concerns about neighbours, friends or family, we would ask them to visit the Friends Against Scams website www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/.

This action could make all the difference in protecting people in our communities from these criminals, and defeating the scammers for good.

Thank you for our support in helping to keep vulnerable customers safe. – Yours, etc.,

Rob Jenson

Royal Mail Operations Director

HEART DISEASE

Sir, – Walking to work reduces the chance of heart disease by 27 per cent, a new study published in the British Medical Journal has found.

The study by the University of Glasgow found that people who cycle to work are 45 per cent less likely to get cancer, and people who walk to work have a 27 per cent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a 36 per cent lower risk of dying from it.

Walking is a free, easy and accessible way to stay healthy and protect ourselves from chronic conditions.

New figures from the NHS last month revealed that one in four adults are inactive, but by choosing to swap short car journeys for a walk instead, we can easily fit more exercise into our day.

The high levels of air pollution in our towns and cities puts some people off travelling actively but the myth that

we are protected from air pollution inside the car is simply not true – we are less exposed when on foot.

And when people walk more, they are being part of the solution.

It’s Living Streets’ National Walking Month in May and we’re encouraging people to #Try20 – and fit 20 minutes of walking into their day and see what benefits they feel to their health and happiness. – Yours, etc.,

Tompion Platt

Head of Policy Living Streets

GENERAL ELECTION

Sir, – Britain keeps its promises, particularly to those most in need. For 10 years, our commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of our national income on aid has been testament to that, and featured in all the major political party manifestos running up to the last General Election.

I’m proud of the UK’s history of providing lifesaving aid to the world’s most vulnerable children. As the first major economy to reach this spending target, the UK has shown how a transparent, independent and accountable approach to aid can change the world.

It is the right thing to do, and it shows the world that we are bigger than just ourselves. Immunising millions of children against preventable diseases makes us a bigger Britain. Supporting our doctors and nurses to lead the fight against Ebola makes us a bigger Britain. Creating jobs and trade opportunities in developing countries makes us a bigger Britain.

This election must be an opportunity for all parties to reaffirm that commitment. We are big enough to help people both at home and abroad. Let us all call on our future politicians to show their commitment to the most vulnerable by protecting UK aid. – Yours, etc.,

Andrew Hill

(address supplied)