In this year in which the UK plays host to 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), we write to express our deep dismay that the Government appears to have washed its hands of the final decision concerning the new coal mine in West Cumbria, asserting that this is a local issue – not a national nor an international one – and therefore solely the responsibility of Cumbria County Council.

In this we find extraordinary the position taken by Secretary of State Robert Jenrick.

We imagine that his position is deeply embarrassing to Alok Sharma in his role as President of COP26, considering the following:

1. The mine is projected to increase UK emissions by 9 million tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime.

2. Most of the coal produced will be exported. It seems unethical for the country to be exporting the coal when it is no longer using it itself.

3. If we are to continue to be dependent on steel, it is imperative that we master its production by sustainable means such as the use of hydrogen rather than burning coking coal.

4. While it is in order for local authorities to make local planning decisions, it is completely wrong for them to be the final arbiters when there are major national and international consequences of their decisions. The county’s own officer report recognises this, saying that ‘the mine has potential global implications in respect of its effects from GHG emissions’.

5. In the year that the UK hosts COP26 the decision gives an entirely negative impression of the UK’s climate priorities. Hence, it is an astonishing decision politically.

Therefore, we urge the Government to do all in its power to intervene and stop it.



Live and let’s dye

An article in last week’s Times & Star wondered whether people should still be out on the fells during lockdown. Maybe they should, but on the understanding that they get no help from the emergency services while out.

Similarly for those who break lockdown rules, in addition to the £200 fine they could also be excluded from free NHS access for, say 12 months. It might make people think more than a cash fine. And in cases of mass breaches, such as large gatherings where it can be a problem identifying people, the police could use permanent dye sprays on the groups, and any one of them then presenting for NHS treatment could be billed for any treatment. They would also be identifiable in public.



MP on schools

The Conservatives continue to disregard evidence in their attempts to develop education policy.

During the coalition government I worked relentlessly with the Liberal Democrats to push back this tide of ignorance. I helped to get Gove, Truss and Gibb removed from their roles and replaced with ministers who listened to evidence; we established the pupil premium; and we set up the Chartered College of Teaching to nurture professionalism and representation in teaching. But the tide came crashing in in 2015.

Instead of listening to our schools, Mark Jenkinson MP has copied the actions of Michael Gove and sent them books. His comments last week about schools reopening were a wonderful opportunity for him to demonstrate some insight into the issues teachers are facing just now but he didn’t do that – presumably because he isn’t listening and he doesn’t know.

I have learned to expect that Conservative governments in Westminster will completely fail to understand schools in West Cumbria but I never dreamed we would see this lack of interest or insight from our own MP.


County councillor (Cockermouth North, Liberal Democrat)

Brexiteers 'will rue the day'...

THE letter “Lord Farage” by JVN Wilson (Times & Star, January 21) has to be the most blatant case of a delusional mind yet presented to your paper.

He starts by having a swipe at Workington’s former MP Sue Hayman for getting into the upper chamber despite being a “failure”.

She lost her seat because she was not convinced about Brexit and is very quickly being proved right.

As for failure, she did at least get elected as an MP, unlike Mr Wilson’s hero Farage, who couldn’t manage it in seven attempts.

I suspect the writer was one of the voters responsible for putting a dangerous bluffer in Downing Street and Mark Jenkinson in here. Should that be the case he might have thought he knew what he voted for with Brexit like the rest of them but the consequences have been an absolute disaster.

That’s what happens with a simplistic “Yes or No” referendum when there are numerous complex grey areas.

The EU was not the primary problem for our country and the Brexiteers shot a wooden cuckoo instead of the Tory turkey. Legislation to put the workers back into poverty – that’s why the Tories wanted out of Europe, to continue an autocracy that will make the very people who voted for Brexit rue the day they did. I have nothing but contempt for their gullibility and for the carnage that has followed.



...or not

Could I please thank Mr Ian Graham of Tallentire for clearing up the reason why Sue Hayman was removed from office in December 2019 (letters, January 28).

According to Mr Graham it was because “a majority of Workington voters took leave of their senses”. Strangely, I remember things differently.

I seem to remember it was because Ms Hayman refused to accept the will of her electorate (who voted to leave the EU) and voted consistently in parliament to frustrate this from happening.

Isn’t it strange how time clouds people’s recollections of the truth!



Mining memories

I WONDER if you readers can help me with my interest in coal mining memorabilia and in particular the brass embossed colliery lamp checks, or tokens and tallies as they are sometimes called.

These are brass discs with the name of the colliery on them as well as the miner’s number. The miner would draw this check along with his lamp from the lamp room before going down the mine.

I am trying very hard to obtain some lamp checks from the many collieries that once operated in the Cumberland coalfield especially one from Gillhead Colliery and Buckhill Colliery.

I have listed below the names of some of the collieries I am trying to obtain a lamp check from. They are Gillhead Colliery, Buckhill Colliery, Oughterside Colliery, Clifton Colliery, Wellington Colliery, Ladysmith Colliery, Walkmill Colliery, William Colliery, Broughton Moor Colliery, Risehow Colliery, Montreal Colliery, St Helens Colliery, Solway Colliery, Haig Colliery, Brayton No 5 Colliery and Brayton Knowe Colliery.

I would very much like to hear from anyone who once worked at and can remember these collieries working and any help they can give me in trying to obtain any lamp checks from them would be very much appreciated.

Readers can reach me via email at, or call 01384 376458, or write to me at the address below.


5 Cherry Grove

Norton, Stourbridge

West Midlands DY8 3YL