England is the last country in empire
Only weeks after the Government's decision to end warship building in England in favour of shipyards on the Clyde, I read the headline "Scots get £2,000 each more than all of us".
It seems the Government's policy of appeasing Scottish voters in the run-up to next year's independence referendum is now going into overdrive. Public spending figures published by the Treasury reveal the UK allocated spending per head of £10,876 in Northern Ireland, £10,152 in Scotland, £9,709 in Wales, and in England, last in the pecking order and falling further behind every year, £8,529.
The figure for the South West is £8,219 and, shockingly, a huge swathe of England – the South East, East Midlands and East of England – fare even worse.
How has this bias against the English come about? As devolution proceeds apace, the governments in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast have become increasingly confident, assertive and successful. In reaction the British political establishment is more than willing to pander to their every demand in an attempt to prevent the UK from drifting apart.
Meanwhile MPs elected in England, with no national parliament of their own, enter Westminster to become lost in a fog of Britishness and are unwilling or unable to obtain the rights and opportunities for their constituents that their counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have for theirs.
Little wonder that the chairman of the House of Commons' Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee said "England is the last country in the Empire – still ruled, like some untrusted colonial backwater, from Whitehall."
Sadly, he is right and nothing will change until England has its own independent government.
English Democrats, Somerset
Health services still have a lot to learn
There can be no excuse for failures to safeguard and care for patients in our hospitals, but the current demand, in the wake of the Francis Report, for legal mandates in relation to minimum staffing levels on wards will not necessarily address the problem.
By now, most of us can accept the need for cuts to bring the economy back on to an even keel, be it at central government or at a local level, even if we don't much like it. However, in the light of these severe funding cuts, with more to come, where do those calling for the increase in staff to bed ratios think the money will come from I wonder?
Much as health and safety should never ever be put at risk, within Somerset alone, cuts have meant that there are insufficient funds to continue to provide the same level of services we've all come to expect.
As the locally appointed governor of an NHS FT I've recently attended a number of conferences and training events on the issue of patient safety and dignity. These have included the so called "never events" which thankfully are a rare occurrence, in addition to such topics as equality and diversity, particularly in relation to the care of vulnerable adults. We must of course demand the best possible care, but we need to be realistic in our expectations.
Somerset County Council's newly formed Health and Wellbeing Board has responsibility to work with a range of partners and agencies to ensure that the highest standards are maintained, but there are no quick-fix solutions. Increasing staffing levels may well solve the problem, if we could afford to pay them, but it's not as simple as we are led to believe.We still have a lot to learn from so called "third world" countries.
I know from personal experience that recovery times and overall outcomes can be much more positive where family, and friends, are actively encouraged to play a part in the care of the sick; leaving our poor over-worked nursing staff to attend to those that really do need their skill and expertise.
Combe St Nicholas, Somerset
What happened to that Concorde cash?
We enjoyed John Mason's interesting article "Alpha Foxtrot, down but not forgotten" (Daily Press November 26) as we were living at Frampton Cotterell when the prototype of Concorde passed overhead on it's way to Fairford.
We often heard the sonic boom as she set off across the Atlantic during her working life. And, of course, we were there when she made her final flight into Filton.
We would be most interested to discover what happened to all the money that was collected to provide a permanent home inside a building. It is so sad to think that she has been exposed to the elements for ten years.
D & J Haynes