Letters

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Tram, roads and trees, a depresssing read

The latest Sheffield Telegraph makes for a depressing read.

Tram‑train testing gets a start date (p4). Although we are not told in the article what that date is. We are however told the project “is already running £60million over budget, was labelled as how ‘not to’ manage a rail scheme.

Roads improving but could be better (p4). “The number of Sheffield roads in need of repair has fallen since a £2.2 billion highway improvement and mainteneance deal was signed”. I should hope so. Isn’t that rather the point?

Road relaid for second time in two years (p7) after “potholes and huge cracks appeared just months after the work was carried out”. And this is not limited to just the one road in Sheffield.

I couldn’t face the article on page 18 about the policing of the recent tree protests. We have an Labour candidate who thinks that the role of mayor of Sheffield City Region is so insignificant that he will be able to take it on alongside his existing role as a member of parliament.

I’ve not even mentioned the debacle that is the long, long, long awaited city centre retail scheme.

Now re‑badged (I can’t remember what the project is called this week) and consisting mainly of apartments and offices moved from elsewhere in the city. No sign of those retailers long missing from the city.

In the words of the great Terry Wogan: Is it me? Who on earth is steering this once great steel ship that is the city of Sheffield? If it were a school it would be in special measures.

Simon N Jones

Sheffield, S10

Farmers tend to vote for Conservatives

I am writing to you to draw your attention to the government’s recent announcement that they are considering extending the badger cull into the Sheffield area.

South Yorkshire is considered to be a Low Risk Area (LRAs) for incidence of bTB in cattle, and, according to the government’s own “Strategy for achieving Officially Bovine Tuberculosis Free status for England”, published in April 2014, the main focus for reducing the risk of bTB in LRAs should be implementing strict farm biosecurity; not culling badgers.

It is therefore surprising that the government has now stated that culling of badgers may be permitted and used in our area; however, this is subject to the priviso that much local land is owned by organisations that will not allow the culling on their estate e.g. Sheffield Council.

I strongly object to the badger cull for a number of reasons: It is unlikely to work.

Scientists who have conducted studies on this method to control bTB have reported that culling only works in a limited set of circumstances and that these are difficult to achieve in practice. Experts who were commissioned by the government say that farm biosecurity and vaccinating badgers against bTB would be more effective that a cull. Indeed, they have shown that badger culling can increase the incidence of bTB in cattle in culling areas, as infected, frightened and/or wandering badgers, can spread the disease to new areas.

It seems that, as farmers themselves are the only ones who believe the badger cull will help them stop their cattle getting TB, the government is planning to extend the cull to appease them, rather than applying a well-reserched and reliable method of managing bTB in wildlife and livestock.

It is inhumane. Some badgers are trapped before being shot, but so far the majority have been killed by free shooting, a method judged inhumane by the British Veterinary Association.

It is an expensive waste of money. The Wildlife Trusts’ have calculated the costs to be £6,800 per culled animal, compared with £82 per badger for vaccination.

4. The current plans for S. Yorkshire are unscientific. The consultation document for latest proposal to extend the cull to LRAs asks respondents to comment on: “the principal of taking a precautionary case-by-case approach, dependent on the local conditions and situation, including as regards the number of years in which culling is carried out”.

The Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust describes this as: “ A move away from the scientific principles The government set out to cull badgers using an argument based in scientific evidence resulting from the Randomised Badger Cull Trial. These proposals represent a move away from this scientific evidence”.

In the UK badgers are supposed to be protected by law from being killed, except in exceptional circumstances. However in 2012 the then government decided that the outbreak of bTB in cattle counts as a sufficient exceptional circumstance; hence, even though it’s effectiveness is suspect, it allows itself to continue break the law.

Could this be because the Conservatives know that farmers tend to vote for them?

Wendy Birks

Park Grange Mount

Sacrifice trees to get the roads up to scratch

I note from this week’s Private Eye, that Birmingham City Council is also in conflict with Amey about a 25 year road maintenance contract.

According to the magazine, Amey “re-interpreted” their enormous £2.7 billion PFI contract. Birmingham council took them to court, and the Appeal Court has now over-ruled Amey, saying their interpretation was intended to reduce their workload and increase their profit .

Amey have not rolled over and got on with the work though. After the 3 year legal battle, they are now considering taking the case to the Supreme Court.

My own position on the Great Tree Debate is that we need to sacrifice some trees to get the roads up to scratch. The roads in the area all around me are an absolute disgrace and a real danger to cyclists.

John Edwards

Sheffield S11