Manx Independent letters, April 7, 2016

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Let’s bring in the red squirrel

One of the first things I did when I came to live on the island in 2000 was to contact the environment minister about the idea of introducing the red squirrel. I am still very much in favour of doing so.

I was told that a study had already been carried out by Oxford University about the feasibility of such an introduction which had concluded that there was insufficient food available for them on the island at the time for their study.

Perhaps it is time for a further look at our woods and forests with, maybe, some special planting with food for the red squirrel in mind?

The island could be a real saviour for this beautiful little animal which is overwhelmed by its competitors in other areas of the British Isles. What an attraction their presence would be for visitors. They would be an asset in every way.

Lesley Jean, Port St Mary.

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Cigarettes in cars is private matter

Even as a lifelong non-smoker I am surprised at the apathy of Manx smokers over an intrusive and pointless law which restricts personal freedom without tackling any perceived social problem.

I am even more surprised at the apathy of Manx advocates towards the same law, when it threatens to redefine the concept of private property and creates the future possibility for any public employee to prevent rational adults pursuing private pleasures at home.

And all this just because some swivel-eyed puritan thinks they should not?

The new law purports to prevent adults smoking in a private car if children are present, even though the ‘problem’ is an urban folk myth.

I say this being one of many civil libertarians who, out of idle curiosity, bothered to look for evidence to the contrary.

The single academic survey on record was about a decade ago at University College Dublin. Several students spent three hours monitoring cars passing through a busy Dublin junction.

They counted 1,000, and two separate monitors recorded in total two possible instances of children present in a car with a cigarette being smoked. Neither researcher was confident beyond reasonable doubt of the example, nor could they rule out that both separately recorded the same car.

Other than this, there is no academic attempt to find if this old wives’ tale has substance.

Until there is, this myth is just cheap emotional fascism to forward censorship of private behaviour with no rational purpose.

If child protection was the real aim, there are already far better ways for us, as good neighbours, to let the police and social services know about seriously bad parenting and for such professionals to take effective action.

UK police forces have indicated that a similar law there is a complete waste of police time and resources, and totally impractical to enforce.

Therefore they have not bothered and not a single prosecution will follow.

But recent freedom of information requests have revealed that Public Health England and other taxpayer funded pressure groups are now seeking an extension of the law to all smokers in all private vehicles.

This is alarming, because it chips away at the understanding that our cars, like our homes and gardens, are private property and that government employees need a warrant to disturb us there or censor our private interests and pleasures.

What would be the legal position of, say, someone smoking alone in a mobile home?

What if, in future, other cranks and puritans with other perverse prejudices seek to, say, censor the playing of Tiddleywinks on health and safety grounds, the reading of serious literature or the practice of a minority religion within the home?

We urgently need a root and branch review of the legal and governmental failures which led to this fiasco, and for further attacks on civil liberties based on similar fairy tales to be ruled unconstitutional before they even begin. We now need proof that those framing Manx law have some basic understanding of legal concepts, and an ability to research perceived social problems objectively which exceeds that of the average National Enquirer reader.

Stuart Hartill, Walpole Road, Ramsey.

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We do not need this roundabout

I am in complete agreement with Ramsey Commissioners over our new market place car park, especially Dr Allison’s comments about the ugly plant containers, they should disappear.

We also have a stupid roundabout that we did not need or want.

If I had my way I’d take away the posts outside the sweet shop and let the traffic turn left as it used to.

I’d paint over the roundabout and let the traffic run both ways as it used to past St Paul’s Church.

Take away the centre pavement that is of no use what so ever.

Plant the very expensive trees somewhere else where their leaves will not clog up drains or block roof gutters.

Take away the dangerous square planters before someone walks into them and gets hurt, then we will have a reasonable car park, but of course not as good as it used to be or as easy to use.

Now here’s the worst problem as I see it. I voted against any alterations to the car park except possibly retarmac the surface. Now your commissioners are crying over what they have ended up with. I have not heard a good word from the public said about their wonderful new car park.

It’s alright saying the government paid for it, but where did government get the money? It was yours.

I will be standing for election to Ramsey Commissioners again in April.

Wilf Young, Ramsey.

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Answer through gritted teeth

I do hope the government hasn’t brought in the new ‘complainers’ policy’ just because of Mr Cowin, our loveable voice of all things transparent (Examiner), because that would make them cowards, and gaggers of democracy and freedom of speech.

Most people make complaints or requests because they feel they are legitimate, so who is someone else to say they aren’t?

Challenge and persistency can and does make positive change despite the perceived annoyance factor.

If you have nothing to hide why would you be worried about answering questions from outside sources?

Just answer them, between gritted teeth if necessary.

That is after all why government employees are called ‘civil servants’ is it not: as in there to serve civilly?

But if they are genuinely trying to save money and can prove that to a substantial amount they may have a case.

However I think they would be better off offering Mr Cowin a consultancy job and get him on side!

Name and address supplied

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