Will Hutton is right to deplore the decline of coastal communities (“There is a way to save our coastal resorts… welcome to Zoomtown-on -Sea”, Comment).
Yes, our buildings are in dire need of renovation, but more crucially we need to retain skilled workers to ensure future prosperity. More equitable school funding might compensate for the years that the lion’s share has been gobbled up by inner cities. Well-resourced schools would attract and retain parents whose skills could increase local wealth and ensure students have the same career and educational prospects as in the suburbs.
The second-home market has been parasitical, creating silent communities for much of the year. Priced out of properties, condemned to extortionate rents, local workers have to make their living elsewhere. Our communities need affordable homes, not more executive homes to swell the profits of construction companies.
Ryde, Isle of Wight
Will Hutton shines an overdue light on the desperate trouble our coastal towns are in. However, I’m not sure championing the exodus from metropolitan areas to the coast is the panacea for this.
The acceleration of this trend, partly fuelled by Covid, has become pronounced in the last six months. One damaging consequence is the rapid rise in rents and prices. The larger salaries and capital of incomers mean the housing crisis has worsened. The gap between average incomes and housing costs is growing rapidly and young people can no longer afford to live in the places they grew up in.
The crisis facing coastal towns requires the building of more affordable housing and a significant expansion in social housing. Addressing the appallingly low level of local wages must also be a priority. Unless this kind of overarching approach is taken, Zoomtown for some will mean Doomtown for others.
Velator, Braunton, Devon
Resorts can be sad, diminished towns, lacking their past coastal glories, but on a walk down our spacious and pleasant seafront, all I saw were happy families enjoying their staycations and queuing for a turn on our very own Great Yarmouth wheel. So, yes, there are inherent problems but, no, we will not let our truly golden sands disappear from under our feet for lack of striving for sustainable progress.
Judith A Daniels
Cobholm, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
William Keegan continues to expose the insanity of Brexit (“Labour has to say it out loud: Brexit needs to be reversed”, Business). It is now a slow-burn catastrophe that will probably morph into an even more dysfunctional “no deal” as the EU concludes that Boris Johnson and David Frost are undermining a treaty that they claim they only signed because of the pressure of parliamentary gridlock.
Keegan is right to demand that Keir Starmer ends Labour’s omerta about Brexit. The Brexit process has broken Labour as an effective opposition because they failed to give clear Remainer leadership during the referendum campaign and since. Despite this, there was still a majority in the last election against Brexit and Johnson.
Starmer ought to form an electoral alliance with other progressive parties to campaign for EU re-entry, a modern written constitution, including proportional representation to deny the Tories future electoral dictatorships, and effective wealth taxes to finance a green revolution.
National insurance contributions should be paid by every working person as a small percentage of their income, entitling them access to benefits (“Levelling up should take many forms…”, Comment). With the current system, a person could be employed in two part-time jobs, neither of which allows them to pay any national insurance.
A fairer payment of statutory sick pay is required for each working person as a fair percentage of their wage. Since devolution of the United Kingdom it is more unfair to people living in England as this is the only part of the UK where prescription charges still apply, which for a suddenly sick person could wipe out statutory sick pay. People cannot help becoming ill and it is up to the state to adequately provide for them, but we are run by a selfish government that has no idea what it means to be poorly paid.
Wick, Caithness, Scotland
Today, we saw one bee – a bumble – in death throes on the pavement and over the last few weeks we have seen dead bees every day on pavements maintained by Birmingham city council (“The insect apocalypse: ‘Without them our world will grind to a halt’ ”, New Review).
We live on Bournville Village Trust land, where greenery and insects are welcome. People may be pleased with well-maintained pavements, without weeds in the cracks or grass in the gutters, but this tends to be accomplished with the use of glyphosate, resulting in the death of any insect unfortunate enough to land on them.
Dr Wiebina Heesterman
John Naughton (“Jeff Bezos’s vision of life among the stars won’t mend a broken world”, New Review) informs us that Bezos’s motivation for wanting to build a “road to space” is to protect the Earth. Bezos says: “When you go to space and see how fragile it is you want to take care of it even more.”
He doesn’t need to go into space to do this. He could pay his fair share of tax, treat suppliers and workers with respect and pay them accordingly and take a walk in an ancient forest near one of his many homes. This would enable him “to take care of it” more effectively and to become far more aware of Earth’s plight, rather than blasting off into space to bolster his fragile ego.
Saron, Sir Gaerfyrddin, Wales
I’m enjoying a feast of broad beans from my garden, so I was interested in Georgina Hayden’s recipe for broad bean, dill and tomato salad (“The 20 best summer vegetable recipes”, Food Monthly).
I was intrigued to read the beans should be podded. My beans are already podded, straight from the plant. I remove them from the pods, a process I have, for nearly 80 years, called “shelling”. I use the same word for removing peas from pods. I suspect most people will understand the expression “as easy as shelling peas”. “As easy as podding peas” doesn’t have the same resonance.