READING the letters regarding calls for Keswick railway station to reopen (Times & Star, June 5), may I point out that they have utterly missed the point?

Greenhouse gases from transport in this country is still rising. One option is to reconstitute the railway system we once had and use zero-carbon hydrogen trains.

Of course if we continue with our present system of continually increasing the level of carbon in the atmosphere, every town in Cumbria will either see flooding or the sea level rise, something which is now beginning to take place. And as sea levels rise, the question is not if the coastal railway will close but when.

I hope that MPs Mark Jenkinson and Trudy Harrison are pressing this issue and pressing it hard, because when the coastal rail line goes it is going to further isolate West Cumbria and increase our carbon emissions.

There is one silver lining, however – when the coastal railway line is cut it will not be possible to export coal from Whitehaven. Now wouldn’t that be a good thing.



The spirit of Independents

In your Letters & Opinion columns last week there were two very revealing contributions. One was from Juliet Wilson, chair of Workington Constituency Labour Party, and the other from Coun Alan Smith, one-time leader of Allerdale Borough Council but now relegated to the third largest grouping within the borough.

During the last local election, the Labour Party, led by Coun Smith, conducted such a pathetic campaign that it lost over half its seats. Labour voters throughout the borough deserted their traditional party and gave their support, in the main, to the Independents.

In a rather poorly-written piece, Coun Smith stipulates that he will give his support to the Conservative group, enabling them to dictate policy whilst he takes no responsibility for it. There is no proposal for steering the people of Allerdale from the present Covid-driven crisis into some sort of transformation where the future becomes more promising. In short, his column contains not one proposal that may be interpreted as leading West Cumbria into a new age of prosperity – not one! He has decided to entrust every new idea to the local Conservative group.

By contrast, Juliet Wilson, perhaps with a better grip on what needs to be done, insists that the last thing our local agriculture needs are the policies of the Tories.

Here we have the two leading figures of the local Labour Party at odds with each other, devoid of any policy suggestions that could help guide us out of this present crisis. With Coun Smith’s surrender to the Conservative party we have merely exchanged his autocratic executive with that of a Conservative one.

Meanwhile the Independents as the largest group on Allerdale, ably led by Coun Paul Scott, are willing and prepared to undertake the role of local government in the interests of the people who elected them in vast numbers.

The time has come for Coun Smith and Coun Johnson to step aside and give these vigorous, committed and imaginative Independent members of Allerdale Borough Council the chance to prove themselves.


Stainburn Ward

Handling two crises at once

I cannot understand why the Government wishes to deal with two major crises at the same time.

Our GDP shrank by 20% in April. The first crisis, the coronavirus pandemic, is naturally taking up a vast amount of government resource. Completing EU trade negotiations would be difficult enough in normal times and these times are far from normal.

It would be wise to avoid a second crisis and seek an extension so that negotiations can be done properly. This is not about staying in the EU as we have already left. It is about safeguarding 60% of our trade which is either with the EU directly or with countries which have trade agreements with it. Businesses want this; the devolved parliaments of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland want this; most Leavers want this. We have until the end of June to apply.

The Government is set against applying for an extension. It wants to agree a trade deal by December 31. The reason given is that it is promised in their manifesto for last December’s election.

But that was before coronavirus struck. Trade negotiations are complex and take time and resources. Any sensible leadership would adjust to the new reality.

The pandemic followed by a poor deal or no deal with the EU would be a jobs double whammy. A study by the Social Market Foundation , a cross-party think tank, shows that regions like West Cumbria are particularly vulnerable. On a scale of 1 to 5 (where 1 is the lowest impact and 5 is highest), West Cumbria scores 1 for job impact under coronavirus and a Free Trade Agreement with the EU. If, however, coronavirus is followed by no-deal the impact rises to 4. For the rest of the county, the change is from 2 to 5.

The more doctrinaire, ideologically-driven Conservatives have always wanted no-deal. They will use the pandemic to hide the damage inflicted on the population. Or they will blame the EU. They will never blame themselves.

The situation cries out for a reasonable approach. With Johnson in charge of the rump of a once functioning party, who knows where it is going to come from.



'Hapless Hancock must go'

JUST when Covid-19, the most serious threat to our way of life since the war, was about to stalk us, who did a Brexit-blind electorate put in Downing Street? Boris Johnson.

Just when a competent, careful, concise leader was called for, we got a cocky, careless, clueless incompetent. The result? Chaos.

He has been late on everything to such an extent that the horse had not only bolted, it was fields away from the stable.

Johnson’s claim to be proud of his government’s achievements was a gross insult to the memory of the needless deaths due to his shortcomings: slow on testing, short on PPE but not short on excuses, with old habits bing used to cover thir cowardly tracks.

Following the science? No, they are following their own contradictory science. Hapless Matt Hancock, the health secretary, like his boss’s adviser Dominic Cummings, claimed to have made the right decisions at the right time, proving there is none so blind as those that do not want to see.

At this time, Germany took notice of good advice – test, test, tested. We didn’t. They also restricted borders, yet despite being an island we didn’t.

The result: Germany has fewer than 10,000 deaths, and the UK upwards of 40,000. Right time? Total rubbish. Hancock should resign.

Next comes hindsight, and learning the lessons: that’s also invalid bcause Germany and the UK were in the same boat and they have less to learn than us until we get rid of our superior arrogance. South Korea fared even better than Germany and didn’t need a lockdown.

No, when it comes to lessons let me be the teacher. Trump, USA, ousted; Johnson, UK, ousted; Bolsonaro, Brazil, ousted. Isn’t teaching easy?



Memories of a great GP

I WAS sorry to hear the passing of Dr Sugathan, who worked at the James Street practice and the old Workington Infirmary.

What a GP he was! He could stitch you up, cut out lumps and cysts and toenails and once in the 1970s, when I had a burst eardrum that got infected, he saw me at 8.55am before surgery three times a week for two weeks so that I would not lose work – that was doctoring for you.

God bless you, Suga – I suspect that up there you will be caring for the angels not the other way round.