Letters: The candidates for PM had better have an answer to the energy crisis

·9 min read
A gas hob burns blue - Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
A gas hob burns blue - Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

SIR – I share Alan Rogers’s frustration (Letters, August 13) at the absence of energy from a list of policy priorities in a Conservative Party questionnaire for members – presumably for the benefit of our next prime minister.

The current shortage of affordable energy was predictable, Ukraine war notwithstanding. Because of poor and political decisions and indecisions, it has been like watching a slow-motion car crash 30 years in the making.

Stephen Rae
Petersfield, Hampshire

SIR – It is important to resume fracking to support Britain’s energy security, even though the gas produced would be too little to reduce prices much on the world market (Letters, August 8).

A condition of the drilling licence should be that, for the duration of the Ukraine war, the fracked gas would be sold only to Britain at a fixed price above cost. A similar system was used for contracts in the Second World War.

James Masters
Bucknell, Shropshire

SIR – Which prime minister oversaw the destruction of our gas storage facilities? They should be in jail.

Lady Dutton
Sherborne, Dorset

SIR – The price of my domestic electricity is already 34.18p per kWh. Our new diesel generator, using red diesel (legal on a domestic generator), produces electricity at only a little more, around 36p per kWh.

If the price of electricity increases as forecast and the price of diesel continues to fall, it will be much cheaper for me to generate my own electricity than use the mains this winter.

I find that mind-boggling.

Guy Lachlan
Cambridge

SIR – It is not worth switching to a fixed-rate deal, but it may be worth switching to a different company with a variable-rate deal. If you are a low user, you will benefit from a high standing charge and low rate per kWh. However, I am finding it impossible to get these two simple figures for comparison. All suppliers only want to talk about the “total bill cost”. But without knowing the bill’s component parts, I cannot get a proper comparison.

Andrew Pearse
Guilsborough, Northamptonshire

SIR – I am sorry for old and young people worried about how they will pay their bills this winter.

In Newcastle upon Tyne 50 years ago I was widowed aged 24. I had two very young children and I couldn’t pay my bills. Fortunately, my house had a spare room, so I took in lodgers.

This was wonderful for the warmth, fun and laughter often – and the money! All the lodgers paid on time and were often away visiting or working so I frequently had my home to myself.

I now live in a small flat and regret I can’t invite someone to share my space and bills.

Angela Jones
London N10

Non-Covid deaths

SIR – Professor Karol Sikora points out that non-Covid deaths are soaring.

Indeed, mortality from any cause is well above the five-year average and has been for months. Given that the average age for Covid deaths during the pandemic was 82, it would be reasonable to expect rates to be lower.

The public needs to know which age groups are being affected and what the causes of death are. If, as is likely, they are a result of the measures taken during the pandemic, it is imperative to understand why.

This tragedy is unfolding in plain sight and no one seems to be trying to get to the truth of the matter.

Dr David Walters
Burton Bradstock, Dorset

Home worker hold-up

SIR – Jacob Rees-Mogg is right to criticise council workers still working from home.

As a commercial property lawyer in the North West, I feel I can speak for most in that profession, as well as land agents and developers. We are all fed up with delays in the planning process, associated planning agreements and road adoption agreements.

Documents that took between three and six months, before Covid, now take anything from 18 months to three years. This delays developments and the associated Community Infrastructure Levy payments to councils, along with payments for housing, highways and so on under planning and road agreements.

One can only wonder if “working” takes on a new meaning when council employees are doing it from home.

Naomi Fell
Kendal, Cumbria

NHS contempt

SIR – In May I went for a consultation with two surgeons about my left hip, which needs replacement. It was agreed that the procedure would be carried out in two months’ time.

That time passed and I heard nothing, so I phoned the hospital. The orthopaedic PA was on leave, and when I finally got through to someone I was told that the waiting time was 22 weeks, and I should speak to my GP.

Eventually my GP phoned and said she would write to the hospital. After a week I phoned the hospital. The PA was still on leave, and I was then told I was at the bottom of the list, with a 25-week wait.

It was implied that I was undergoing a lifestyle procedure – as if I wanted to go skiing or rock climbing.

I have a busy retirement. I support several charities and, for half a day each week, teach English to immigrants. This has been difficult because of my hip. A move to be nearer my daughters and granddaughters is also on hold. I fear that the problem will have an impact on my knees, spine and other hip (replaced in 2004).

I don’t expect special treatment, and can live with the grudging NHS attitude, but I do object to being treated with contempt.

Brian Farmer
Braintree, Essex

Cashless loos

SIR – I have just returned from five days in Keswick. After going sailing on Derwent Water I went to use the on-site lavatories, only to find that there was a 50p charge – card only.

I was able to return to where I was staying and use the facilities there, but others did not have this option.

The push for a “cashless society” is unfair to many and morally wrong.

Christine Smith
Blackpool, Lancashire

Exam disappointment

SIR – I could weep for the young people who this week will have the last morsel of confidence knocked from them when they receive A-level grades that are forecast to be lower than teacher predictions.

My grandson missed sitting his GCSE exams and all the celebrations that normally happen at the end of secondary school. He lost the chance to study four A-levels and further maths. He got no careers advice, and could not take driving lessons. All of this is because of government lockdowns and restrictions.

I am beyond angry at the way this generation has borne the brunt while others shirked from home – bolstered by supermarket deliveries from others who did work – and are even now refusing to return to offices.

We will be feeling the results of this for decades.

Eve Wilson
Hill Head, Hampshire

Cornflake shakedown

SIR – My father was a design engineer and made a prototype machine for packing cornflakes (Letters, August 15) in the 1950s.

I remember him saying that the biggest problem was getting the loose cornflakes sufficiently compacted after weighing out the boxful so that they would fit in the package and the operation could proceed at speed. They were vibrated, but some further settling would occur during transport and distribution. He might have found the cube design (Letters, August 10) an easier prospect.

No doubt the machine he made has been superseded by a more modern design, but when involved with packaging Heinz baked beans he was amused to find, on a subsequent visit 20 years later, that the gearbox he had designed for a heavy-duty conveyor to replace the very unreliable one fitted previously was still in constant use. Things were made to last then.

Dr C J Mew
Bampton, Devon

Wrong kind of sign

SIR – In addition to the war on woke, may I suggest an end to bossy, infantilising signs?

“Be kind”, in particular, induces feelings of murderous rage within me, although friends will attest that I am normally quite mild-mannered.

Sara Ellis
Wimborne, Dorset

On the lookout for early-ripening blackberries

a harvest mouse, Micromys minutus, climbing a blackberry stem - Alamy
a harvest mouse, Micromys minutus, climbing a blackberry stem - Alamy

SIR – In late July I picked and ate blackberries (Letters, August 14) while playing the 12th hole at Maesdu golf course in Llandudno.

They were a lot sweeter than my golf.

David Hughes
Llandudno, Caernarfonshire

SIR – May I blow a raspberry at Sidney, Caroline Plaisted’s border terrier (Letters, August 14), who picked his first blackberry on July 22? Tigger and Plato, father and son broken-coated Jack Russells, picked their first blackberries in deepest Wiltshire on July 14.

Jonathan Baird
Conock, Wiltshire

SIR – Every year in Evesham we have blackberries ready to pick at the end of July – at least six weeks earlier than in Hampshire, where mid-September is normal. Labels on our freezer boxes confirm this.

Stephen Gledhill
Evesham, Worcestershire

Axing Radio 2 presenters narrows BBC appeal

SIR – What is the controller of BBC Radio 2 trying to do to the station? I fail to understand the drive towards a younger audience when the BBC already caters for it with Radio 1.

Most listeners to Radio 2 knew that Jo Whiley wasn’t suited to daytime radio, yet Simon Mayo’s excellent drive-time show was destroyed by putting her with him. Thankfully, Ms Whiley is back on evening radio and remains one of the few presenters worth listening to on weekdays.

The removal of Steve Wright is another issue. While not my favourite presenter, he attracts an audience of several million, yet this is apparently not good enough for his bosses. Now we have Paul O’Grady departing – another presenter messed around by the BBC and driven out. Yet all this change actually goes against the BBC’s own philosophy.

The BBC has for some time made diversity a major part of its business, which included employing a director of creative diversity (at considerable expense to the licence payer – though she, too, has left), yet it is showing no diversity in aiming Radio 2 at an audience it caters for elsewhere.

The only daytime presenter worth listening to nowadays is the superb Ken Bruce, though I fear he may be the next one to leave. I cannot stand the “in-your-face” style of Zoe Ball, and Sara Cox has the misfortune of being on at the same time as Simon Mayo, who has taken his old drive-time show to another station.

Even though I watched very little of the BBC’s television output, I was happy to pay my licence fee for the diversity of the radio stations. Now this has been severely narrowed, and there is very little left for my generation (born in the 1950s) to listen to. I’m wondering if it’s worth continuing to pay it.

Matthew Biddlecombe
Sampford Courtenay, Devon

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