More for rich
NEW Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s first and last Autumn Statement was a downbeat performance to the backdrop of a downbeat economic situation. He has had to admit to the total failure of the Tories’ economic promise of eliminating the deficit by 2020 (a promise originally made for 2015), though of course he will not admit that the cuts since 2010 have made things worse.
We welcome the Chancellor’s (partial) conversion to Labour’s belief that he should take advantage of exceptionally low interest rates to borrow to invest. It is likely to be too little and too late and offers nothing to solve the problems facing our NHS and councils struggling to provide social care. The “Sustainability and Transformation Plans” slowly emerging into the public domain suggest accelerated bed reductions as well as withdrawal of A&E and maternity services from many hospitals. The “help” for house-building to Housing Associations and local authorities excludes homes for social rent so will do little to ease the plight of private renters. Some funding to devolved regions was promised but there was no offer of respite for Northern, Midland and other local authorities facing the continued reduction of their block government grants to zero.
Thankfully relatively free of the gimmicks seen in recent years, the old “sleight of hand” was still present. So the fuel escalator was unchanged but instead we will all pay more in insurance taxes.
At the heart of the statement, as with previous Tory budgets, was a continued shift of wealth from the poor to the rich. Further reductions to corporation tax were indicated. Benefit reductions, mainly for the working poor, through universal benefit, will continue on very marginally reduced terms and social security freezes will continue for the duration of the parliament despite anticipated rises in inflation. There will be an increase in the living wage next year but only if you are 25 or older. Rises in the threshold for starting to pay tax have been flagged up but, counter intuitively, the main gainers here, individually and as a proportion of the “give away”, are those on above average wages. Every independent economic body has said that as a result of this statement the majority of people on below average wages are losers and the majority of those on above average wages are gainers.
The Tories have still not accepted that you cannot pay down the deficit by taking from those that have next to nothing in the first place. It is an inconvenient truth that the only way to avoid individual affluence for the few amid public squalor for all is to have a progressive tax system where those individuals and businesses with broadest shoulders contribute more. 
Hereford and S Herefordshire Labour Party.

Fond tribute
I HAVE very fond memories of John Harris of Hereford Livestock Market, who recently passed away. 
Going back to the 1960s, John was known to my family as The Pig Man. 
This was because before my twins started school, I would take them each Wednesday to the market to see the animals. The pigs being their favourites. 
John was usually around the pigs that were for sale and often would pick my twins up and put them in a pen where they could stroke the baby piglets. 
They never forgot those times and even when they were older during school holidays on a Wednesday they would always want to go to the market to see the pigs and John, The Pig Man. 
I met up with John in 2014 when we were both involved in the making of the film Chewing the Cud. 
Memories of the Old Market and, yes, even after all those years he said he remembered me taking my children there to see him and the pigs. 
What a lovely man he was.
Pride in bull
REGARDING the letter from Mr John Davies and his bemoaning the insult to our county’s breed of beef cattle, I would point out to him that the Elgar Statue in the Cathedral Close, the statue of Sir George Cornewall Lewis in front of the Shire Hall and the statue of Churchill in Parliament Square in London, are all a similar colour to our bull. 
There are statues of Queen Victoria that are sparkling white and some are even covered in gold leaf, so are all these calculated as insults to the various illustrious people whose likeness they carry? 
The answer is obviously “no”, since if you cast in bronze, that will be the colour of the finished article, if you carve in stone or apply gilding, that too will be the colour. 
I am sure that the descendants of Lewis, Churchill and Elgar do not consider that their ancestors have been portrayed as men from an extremely hot and sunny country. 
In the same way then, look on our lovely bull with affection and pride and just put the poor old Aberdeen Angus back in the field with his herd.

Big thank you
THIS is to say a big thank you to the “good Samaritan”, a very kind gentleman (who didn’t leave his details) who took my handbag to the police station after I had lost it last Wednesday in Hereford.
Many thanks again from a very grateful lady.

Brexit abuse
ONCE again I find myself smiling at the vitriolic abuse, put forward by a Remoaner, aimed at all those who voted for Brexit.
A gentleman by the name of Barry Watson (Letters, Hereford Times, Thursday, December 1) accuses those who voted for Brexit as being inward-looking, narrow-minded, somewhat misguided with a nationalistic attitude. 
Mr Watson makes much of European money being made available for a variety of British projects. Never a word of this country being one of less than a handful who actually contribute. The other 22 countries only take out. Not a great bargain one might think. 
The comment about Trump is laughable when one considers the villains, crooks and ne’er-do-wells who have made their grasping, swindling way through the influence-peddling halls of the EU Parliament and Commission; not to mention the likes of the Labour windbag Kinnock and his wife and the prevaricating, messianic Blair whose Presidential dreams luckily came to nought following his political eclipse.  
The EU is an organisation that has never yet balanced its books. 
The costs of the EU Parliament with its stupid move from one HQ to another every six months is monstrous and indefensible.
I might have every failing of which Mr Watson accuses Brexit voters, but like the rest of that 17 million, far from being inward-looking and narrow-minded, my approach to politics is world-wide.
I also look more to the rights of democracy and sovereignty and the right to make and live by our own British laws. The Common Market when begun, was founded on a good idea. 
The EU, as it now exists, is no longer that good idea. Far from it. The lack of democracy, the total lack of responsibility and common sense is frightening. The Republican ideals of the European political leaders is not what we in the UK were given to expect when we were first beguiled into accepting membership. We, here in the UK, were deliberately kept in the dark regarding the Republican ideals underlying its conception.
Being a man of gentleness and peace, and not as suggested by Mr Watson, I will refrain from issuing epithets and castigations, although I do find the un-founded, unkind, parochial, myopic and ridiculously small-minded views put forward by many Remoaners, un-Christian and rather hard to take. 
Drop the idea
An OPEN letter to Jesse Norman MP:
Dear Jesse 
When Jo and I met you on November 11, we left the meeting with you singing “you get what you need”.
You talked about smart Brexit and I left the meeting feeling reassured.
As you know, one of my key concerns was the rights of non-British EU citizens living in the UK post referendum and post Brexit. You went out of your way to reassure me. 
I asked why you had voted down the SNP bill ensuring the status of EU citizens in the UK. You assured me that because it was an opposition bill it was just tabled to cause trouble and that as a government minister you’d lose your job if you voted against the whip.  
You again assured me people would not be bargaining chips and I had nothing to worry about.
I challenged you and said !if that isn’t the case! will you resign your government job (not your seat)?  
You looked surprised and said !yes, I would, if anything proposed was contrary to human dignity or against the law!.
Now that’s a politician’s response and can be interpreted many ways. But do you not think it is contrary to human decency to expect some residents to carry ID and not others? Doesn’t that feel a bit like Apartheid South Africa to you?
So, Jesse, I am really hoping that as a decent, compassionate Conservative, you’ll tell Amber Rudd to drop this disgusting idea and apologise to all the people who are now feeling even more insecure. 
Or you’ll resign your government job as promised.
Praise for unit
I CANNOT praise the Victoria Eye Unit at Hereford Hospital highly enough. 
Having diagnosed me with wet AMD (age-related macular degeneration) last Thursday, I was seen and treated the following Monday, thus saving my sight from significant deterioration, and came up with a treatment plan today.
What a great team!

Great care
I WOULD like to say a big thank you to Donna the first-aider, her colleague and also a female member of the public who came to my aid when I collapsed in Sourberry’s Café on Friday, November 18. 
They made sure that I was safe and comfortable. 
Also the ambulance crew and female paramedic at A&E in the County Hospital, she was very busy but found time to really care for me. 
Thank you to all concerned for returning me safely to my friends and dogs, I am very grateful.

Hospital beds
THE plans which have been announced to reduce the number of hospital beds and to concentrate the workforce and expertise in a smaller number of hospitals (your article “Thousands of beds to go in NHS shake-up”, November 19, 2016) remind me of plans in the late 1980s, with which I was closely associated as the architect, to build a 2,000-bed maternity and paediatric hospital for the People’s Committee for Health in Tripoli, Libya.
At preliminary briefing discussions with the client’s heads of these departments, it was explained that the need for the new hospital was urgent and its size would enable expensive equipment to be reduced if concentrated in one hospital rather than two.   
Asked about the catchment area to be served, the answer was, legally, the whole of Libya, as no-one arriving could be refused entry.   
With existing maternity facilities I was told there had been occasions when, in extremis, two mothers-to-be had to be accommodated head to toe in the same bed.
One wonders, as we reduce the number of beds here and pregnant women will face long trips to give birth, how long it will be before our hospitals, in extremis, will also have to accommodate two women in the same bed?

Service logic
THE suggestion by John Campion, the police and crime commissioner, to amalgamate public services such as police, fire and ambulance on to one site must be one of the most logical proposals seen for a long time. 
The saving in shared communication, secretarial and vehicle facilities must generate substantial annual savings.
In Ledbury there are even greater financial benefits. 
The police station and fire station could be sold and generate large sums of capital and both sites developed for more practical purposes. 
I am confident a detailed proposal would demonstrate the financial and practical benefits to the town and to the council-tax payers.

EVERY time I read in the Hereford Times about Brockington in Hafod Road, being the former offices of Herefordshire Council, I am surprised that no mention is made that for many decades it was the HQ of the Herefordshire Constabulary. 
Both Chief Constables, Mr Freeman Newton (1929-1958) and Robert McCartney from 1958 until amalgamation into West Mercia, ran the Herefordshire Constabulary from Brockington.