Spectator letters: On wind turbines, Churchill's only exam success, and the red-trousered mayor of Bristol

19 April 2014

9:00 AM

19 April 2014

9:00 AM

When the wind blows

Sir: Clare Oxford’s piece (‘Gone with the wind turbines’, 12 April) is both timely and sad. Those who applaud the use of these infernal machines are prone to eulogise their efficiency by saying (in the same annoying, dumbed-down way in which commentators always compare the size of something with the number of football pitches it equates to — presumably on the basis that a normal person is unable to conceive of anything larger) that the number of machines to be erected ‘could provide power for x thousand homes’.

It would be far more honest of them if they went on to make the caveat ‘when the wind blows’, and query what happens to the power supply to the ‘x thousand’ homes during the 80 per cent of the time when this is not the case. At those times, their power supply really has ‘Gone with the wind’.
Geoff Neden
Craven Arms, Shropshire

Is crime really falling?

Sir: Following on from Mary Wakefield’s column (‘Crime’s falling, but we still hate the police. Why?’, 12 April), I would urge everybody to show more scepticism towards the assertion that crime is falling. Last week the Commons Public Administration Committee produced a report called ‘Caught red-handed: why we can’t count on police recorded crime statistics’. This followed on from the astonishing statements of expert witnesses at the committee’s meeting in November last year that suggested widespread misreporting. And all this is combined with the facts that the police have retreated from the streets and that much crime goes unreported; try telling the weary residents of crime-ridden ghettoes and housing estates that crime is falling.

If they are to reconnect with the public and actually prevent crime, we need them back on the streets among us.
Ben Kelly
Brierley, South Yorkshire

Dog fight

Sir: Further to the letter from representatives of ‘Friends of Dogs in Parks’ (5 April), owners of dogs on leads are surely more likely to pick up their pets’ mess than those whose dogs roam free. Many — including me — do not like dogs walking free in London’s streets or parks: you never know whether they will turn out to be cute, nasty or plain vicious. There is no reason why these unhygienic and sometimes dangerous animals should not have to be kept on a lead. Let us hope that local authorities will ignore the so-called ‘needs’ of dog owners in favour of the safety and health of those who do not feel the need to parade animals in public.
Michael Varcoe-Cocks
London W6

Opera in the village

Sir: I enjoyed Michael Tanner’s thoughts on the live broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera in New York to cinemas around the world (Arts, 5 April). In my local village I go to these with a couple of octogenarians who cannot travel to London any more but whose enjoyment is a transport of delight. Many people come to the village specifically for these Met productions. They are an excellent way of accessing opera.
Naomi Langford-Wood
Kimbolton, Cambridgeshire

Churchill’s qualifications

Sir: My hero Freddie Forsyth errs in saying that Churchill ‘passed no exams’ (Letters, 12 April). He took immense pride in just managing to scrape through the Sandhurst entry exam in 1893. ‘I consider my triumph,’ he wrote later, ‘was in learning Mathematics in six months.’ The crammer in the Cromwell Road where he achieved this proficiency complained that he was ‘rather too much inclined to teach his instructors instead of endeavouring to learn from them’.
Lord Lexden
London SW1

The man in red trousers

Sir: Sebastian Payne praises George Ferguson, our red-trousered ‘independent’ mayor, as an example to other cities (‘Rise of the mayors’, 12 April). Like many Bristolians, I now wish I had looked more closely at his background before allowing him to be elected on a 28 per cent turnout. He was a lifelong Liberal Democrat activist and former parliamentary candidate. He resigned his membership shortly before the election but has remained true to his former party’s radical ‘green’ agenda.

Instead of starting work on the ring road the city desperately needs, he has slapped 20mph speed limits on key through routes, stepped up speed camera and parking enforcement, and imposed residents’ parking zones regardless of the impact on local businesses. He shows contempt for those of us who depend on motoring for our livelihoods, smugly declaring, in a recent documentary, that we are ‘part of the problem’.

Meanwhile, the council’s bureaucracy remains as rude and lethargic as ever, and the council tax continues its inexorable rise. All we have got for our elected mayor’s generous salary is a sartorial gimmick and a two-fingered salute. Let other cities take heed.
George Rowell

Thieves’ favourites

Sir: I noted with interest David Everington’s letter about the frequent theft of The Spectator from his local WH Smith (5 April). I worked in the public library service for 40 years. I saw grown men fighting over the Financial Times, but the most stolen journal, which was therefore kept behind the librarian’s desk, was Investors Chronicle.
Iris Oakey

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  • Ben Kelly

    Yay, they printed my letter! Very nicely edited too. Cheers.