Baffled brains
IF we do not value the capacity of education to enhance our ability to process information and make wise judgements, why do we dedicate such vast resources to it? 
We clearly do appreciate the paramount value of education, both for the individual and for society. This being the case, what better way could there possibly be of determining whether or not the UK should leave the EU than to find the opinion of the most educated people in the country?
The evidence is overwhelming that there is a positive correlation between being educated to a higher level than average and being convinced that it would not be a good thing for the UK to leave the EU. As far as it is possible to be objective, therefore, we must conclude that it would be best for the country to remain a member of the EU. On what grounds could anyone argue with this logic?
But we find ourselves now set on a course that leads in the opposite direction. We are being driven headlong towards Brexit when most of the people elected to serve in our legislature and most of our best brains in all areas of public life think we should remain a member of the EU. And many of these people not only fear the catastrophic destruction Brexit is likely to bring, they have already seen it beginning to happen.
How we have arrived at this position, which is paradoxical to say the least, is something that may one day be the subject for PhD theses; it seems to have been an unholy combination of incompetence, negligence and conspiracy.
How were so many MPs manoeuvred into voting for there to be a referendum when (rightly, to my mind) they had so low an opinion of the value of referendums? How did it come about that this referendum was both only “advisory”, requiring just a simple majority, and in practice able to be regarded as mandatory? 
Were our MPs only half awake when this muddle was contrived? Why did no one question the singular rules drawn up for the categories of people entitled to vote?
Analysis of the two campaigns has suggested that there were lies on one side (or even both) and a lack of passion on the other. And, viewing the outcome of the referendum as if it were a football or cricket match, many have declared that the superior footwork or strategy of Team Leave paid off and gave them victory; Team Remain supporters must not be bad losers. But the campaigns leading up to the referendum and the vote itself were not a game. We have got ourselves into an absurd situation whereby our government is determinedly propelling us on a course that runs counter to what the best minds advocate.
Incompetence, negligence and conspiracy have brought us to this dire position. A majority of those best qualified to judge the right way forward for the UK have been outsmarted by a cunning few skilled in manipulating both circumstances and people. If someone could devise a way to take us back to where we were before the fateful sequence began, that person would surely deserve the sort of gratitude the nation felt for Churchill. 
Far from being a traitor, an enemy of the people or an enemy of democracy, they would be a hero.    
Date of value
FEBRUARY 11 was the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
That we should need such a day, even now, in 2017, is staggering. It was introduced by the United Nations  to encourage young women to enter careers in science and technological disciplines; as the imbalance between the sexes in these fields remained stark. 
To my mind this imbalance robs us of the full contribution that women in science can make to the world. 
While the past 15 years have seen increased efforts to inspire and engage women and girls in science, it’s the case that in some parts of the world, the percentage of female students achieving a degree in science-related fields continues to be much lower compared to that of male students.
We can no longer allow this inequality to go unchallenged. Young women and girls need to be encouraged to explore and engage with science, and nations around the world need to be more proactive in fostering this interest.
Women around Britain - from palaeontologist Mary Anning and Britain’s first female physician and surgeon Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, to chemist Rosalind Franklin and biologist Anne McLaren -  have made great contributions to the body of scientific knowledge. 
We all have a responsibility to make sure young women and girls across the West Midlands, Britain and beyond have the opportunity to follow in their footsteps.
Recognizing a problem is always the first step toward addressing it, and the UN resolution founding the International Day of Women and Girls in Science is an excellent development.
But it’s an issue that starts at home. And here’s something for us all to ponder as parents, carers, teachers and employers: what role can we play?
West Midlands MEP

Expert help
IN the early hours of Saturday, January 28, I was experiencing difficulty in breathing and so took myself to the A&E Department at Hereford County Hospital. 
I was seen immediately by a nurse who checked my vital signs and then shortly after by a doctor who examined me and then sent me for a chest X-ray. 
My problem, fluid on the lungs caused by an irregular heartbeat, was quickly diagnosed and treatment administered which relieved my symptoms. 
I was then admitted to hospital and initially placed on Frome Ward before being transferred to Lugg Ward.
I remained in hospital for seven days before discharged on Friday, February 3. 
Being in hospital was a new experience for me as I have never been seriously ill and have only been a patient in a hospital once before when I had my appendix removed in 1966.
Throughout my treatment and stay in Hereford County Hospital, I was most impressed by the professionalism of the staff and by the cleanliness of the wards, especially as the hospital was extremely busy and as soon as a bed became vacant it was filled straight away.
There has been much criticism levelled at the NHS in the press and I should like to take this opportunity to state that Hereford County Hospital is a shining example of the NHS operating at its very best and I am extremely grateful to all those medical professionals who looked after me in my time of need.
Thank you all.

Poultry worry
‘VILLAGERS Tell Of Their Poultry Unit Concerns’ - Let us take a light-hearted but observational look at this Herefordshire problem.
Has anyone within Herefordshire Council done any research as to how many of the tourists who visit the county are walkers, ramblers, cross country runners etc. 
Herefordshire seems to pride itself on its beautiful countryside; however people will be put off coming if they are constantly coming across unsightly stinking large sheds with all the particulates pouring out of the vents.
Would the Council be liable for claims of ill health and possibly recommend dust masks as a precaution to cover itself.
I am surprised that Welsh Water, the Rivers Authority and the Swan Conservancy are not more concerned and they should be once more of these sheds are built and in a few years a major problem is evident. 
Who will be prepared to stick their head up above the parapet, if they are still in office, or pay to rectify the problem.
We are keen walkers having done many walks in this area and further afield over the years. 
One section of the long-distance Wye Valley Walk from Ross to Chepstow was undertaken over 2½ days before we moved here, and we have since done the Ross to Clehonger leg.
More sections are planned. 
If these broiler units proliferate then we and many other walkers will be put off enjoying the countryside.
The article in the Hereford Times entitled ‘Villagers tell of their poultry unit concerns’ highlights the problems we are all facing. 
Clyro resident Sarah Wells opened the questions at a meeting of Clyro Community Council raising the fact that approval had been given in May 2016 when many residents were unaware of the plans and that new information had been bought to light. 
Since Clyro Community Council approved the plans, 100 letters of objection have been registered on the PCC planning portal.
A spokesperson from the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales said that a report is currently underway to determine how and why Powys and Herefordshire have allowed more poultry units than anywhere else in Europe.

East is best
I AM delighted that the Mayor has joined our two MPs in arguing for an eastern bypass. 
Your comment is correct in noting that ‘motorways, investment and infrastructure all lie on the ‘Worcester’ side’. 
The population of the Midlands is many times that of mid-Wales, which is why the traffic on the Worcester road is significantly heavier than that on the Brecon road. It is no accident that almost all the bypasses on the A49 pass to the east of the towns.
It is also relevant that, with the exception of Whitecross, which is mainly a community school serving the western part of the city, all of the schools and colleges on the north side of the river would be better served by an eastern bypass.
This would result in a greater reduction in morning and early evening congestion in the city centre and inner ring road.  
Those of us living a significant distance from the city are acutely aware of the many HGVs travelling across the county and therefore though the city.

Check lights
I TOTALLY agree with Mr Thompson (letters Feb 9) complaining about driving habits in  ice and fog.
My particular bugbear is defective lights on cars; it is amazing how many cars are on the road with defective lights. 
My estimate is 10%. 
Occasionally you even see cars driving with all their rear lights off, even when headlights are on, a very dangerous status. 
Occasionally I try to draw drivers’ attention to this.
However, recently I have been hoist with my own petard. 
My attention has been  drawn  to my own car’s  lights, and over the winter I have had to change three headlight bulbs, two side-light bulbs, and fix both reversing lights. 
I have even become adept at changing light bulbs (it’s not normally difficult).
The message: check your lights regularly, before you cause an accident!
Rant over.

Well said Lola
LOLA Cook’s Talking Point (Hereford Times, Feb 2) filled me with admiration. 
I rejoice at such straight language based on facts. 
I envy her ability and wish all officials could learn from her style. 
It shows what young people have to offer. 
We need to show them more respect, involving them more. 
They will have to deal with the consequences of our actions. 
I congratulate Hereford Times for giving her this platform. 
Also launching a website to inform us better about Council matters. 
I need all the help I can get if I am to be able to contribute to Council consultations. 
However, I am not competent with websites, I do not do Facebook and Internet chat of any kind. 
Print is still the best way for me to process information – to be able to take the time to understand and to check. 
Thank you, Lola, for your positive attitude and clarity of thought and expression. 
May it encourage all of us to protest at false words and examine more thoughtfully what politicians - and the press - tell us. 

Peace symbol
I UNDERSTAND that the original Skylon, at the Festival of Britain in 1951, was named by combining the words “pylon, sky and nylon”, and was on the banks of the Thames in London.  
On your front page the proposed Skylon, in the context of Rotherwas Industrial Estate, appears to resemble some kind of weapon.  
While I would agree that it is important to have industry to produce defence systems for the country, I do not believe that we should be producing and selling weapons all over the world in order to assist other governments to kill people, in their own countries, who do not agree with them.  
I therefore propose that the new Skylon should be designed and erected as a symbol of peace.  
I am sure that there are artists and designers in Herefordshire who would rise to this challenge.
Funding need
I READ Bill Wiggin’s argument (Talking Point Feb 2) that we should enjoy the highest welfare standards for farm animals while achieving sustainable, profitable farming post Brexit. 
Few would wish for anything else, though it is highly likely that his wishes will be washed away (with chlorine?) as we struggle, from a much weakened bargaining position, in the desperate scramble to replace the single market and the trade deals with more than 50 non-EU countries he has argued we should abandon. 
Perhaps too Mr Wiggin could speak to ensuring the highest welfare standards for our elderly. 
Not only is the local population ageing, but counties such as Herefordshire are attractive places and many move here to enjoy retirement. 
Everyone should have the right to a dignified old age. 
Mr Wiggin’s Government is moving fast to remove most of the funding for our county. 
It is unsustainable to pretend that local taxation in counties such as Herefordshire can provide the care needed with no transfer of funds from those areas where industry and commerce are concentrated. 
The Government tells us that the economy is larger than it has ever been, it is time to take responsibility to ensure that this translates to providing the services everyone wherever they choose to retire deserves.