Bill will undermine freedom of speech
We are writing to you to express our concerns about Part 2 of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill which is currently making its way through Parliament. We hope that your newspaper can raise awareness about the danger it poses to UK public life.
Our worry is that as it currently stands this Bill could prevent charities and other organisations from campaigning, and by doing so, deprive ordinary people of their freedom of speech. Many charities and other organisations share this concern about the Bill; Parliament's own Joint Committee on Human Rights has urged the Government to reconsider the impact it could have on rights of free speech and freedom of association, and even the House of Lords heavily criticised the Bill.
Over the years, many of us have joined campaigns launched by other organisations to support and speak out for those less fortunate. Nobody should try and restrict our ability to have our views heard – whether we choose to do it on our own or through others.
This Bill threatens to stifle legitimate public debate and non-party political campaigning on issues that affect people's daily lives. If it went ahead, campaigns to save Lyme Regis and Charmouth libraries East Coker or the Living Wage for Dorset campaign, could not take place.
The Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement is consulting with all NGOs and all major stakeholders to produce recommendations before the Bill goes through the final stage of discussion in Parliament. All we are asking to our MPs is to listen to our concerns, take the commission's recommendations seriously and amend the Bill accordingly.
This country's history and heritage are embedded in the principle of freedom of speech and democratic consultation – as it is, this Bill could undermine these core principles of our democracy.
Campaigner for Oxfam in the South West
Transition Town Bridport
South West Tearfund Church relationship manager (charities, churches, and other organisations)
Regional coordinator – Dorset, Christian Aid
Founder of www.dorsetenergized.co.uk and chairman of Transition Town Sturminster Newton
Head of campaigning, The Woodland Trust
Coordinator West Dorset Greenpeace
CAFOD diocesan manager - Cornwall, Devon & Dorset
Speedy addition of subtitles welcomed
On behalf of over 10 million people in the UK with hearing loss, I would like to publicly thank John Lewis for speedily re-releasing their Christmas television advertisement with subtitles.
Many people with hearing loss can feel isolated at Christmas and while subtitling may seem trivial, Action on Hearing Loss members tell us that words and music, be it carols or lyrics sung by Lily Allen is one of the things they miss most and subtitles allow them to share the experience with family and friends.
The avalanche from the deaf community on social media following the lack of subtitles on the first John Lewis advert led Action on Hearing Loss to tweet the company and their response was immediate. Subtitles were included in less than a week and we would like to thank John Lewis for an early Christmas present!
Action on Hearing Loss
Is this really case of travel made easier?
I have today followed a bus. On the boot was an advert paid for by Wiltshire Council, saying: "Connecting Wiltshire travel made easy".
Is this the same Wiltshire Council that cut thousands of pounds of public transport budgets? Leaving those in rural areas, without any form of public transport. Doesn't seem travel made easy to me.
Councillor Terry Chivers
Independent Melksham Without North
ADHD diagnosis came as a relief
In the Western Daily Press (November 30) you published a letter condemning the diagnosis of children as having the condition ADHD when their behaviour is quite normal. Also stating it to be a ploy by pharmaceutical companies to make profits from selling their expensive prescription drugs.
Was this diatribe from the same contributor who wrote a similar letter a few weeks previously? He obviously hoped to provoke a reply from an "expert" but nobody bothered to reply so he has written again.
I am no expert but can say in all honesty, "Wait until it happens to a child in your family" then you will thank medical science for all the time and money spent in developing something to help control this abnormal behaviour. It disrupts families and classrooms and is quite obviously above and beyond the everyday childhood tantrums and experiences.
The drug my grandson takes is worth every penny and he himself acknowledges that it makes him feel better, more in control and able to concentrate at school. We never dreamt the beautiful, happy, responsive, well-loved and loving baby who grew into an active toddler wouldn't progress out of the "terrible twos" stage. It became obvious we were out of our depth and had the bruises to prove it so the eventual diagnosis and treatment for ADHD came as a great relief.
He is now 15 years old and six feet tall but still can't interact socially. He loves soccer and plays with a local club and his school team but is a "loner" with no close friend. Thanks to support from his parents and teachers he has reasonable grades but can't cope with exams.
Perhaps, as with any condition, some children are misdiagnosed with ADHD but there is no doubting the existence of the real thing.
Name and address supplied
Festive occasion wins Waitrose reward
Disabled Information and Support in the Cotswolds and Churches Together have been awarded the prize from Cirencester branch of Waitrose due to our 11th year of holding a full Christmas Day Lunch at Holy Trinity Church Hall for the disabled, elderly, lonely, poor and homeless.
All food is purchased from local shops and of course Waitrose. Volunteers willing to help prepare and cook each year is immense. Each guest is given a free voucher after lunch then at the back of the hall is a table spread out with gifts which our guests would not purchase themselves.
Disabled Information and Support in the Cotswolds
Juliette and Graham Harris