Letter to the Editor: Iraq

Peter in Star

Dear Sir,

 

The new tragedies unfolding in Iraq and Tony Blair’s extraordinary intervention have prompted widespread criticism of the decision to invade in 2003. But who are these critics?

The National Press, who almost unanimously were gung-ho cheerleaders for socking it to Saddam;

Labour politicians who voted for the war – led by Jack Straw, who was Foreign Secretary at the time!;

And, typically, amnesiac and opportunistic Tory M.P’s whose votes gave Blair the majority his own ranks denied. Hindsight – aided by self-regarding amnesia – is a shabby gift, dross currency.

Foresight is immeasurably valuable. The Liberal Democrats, who agreed consistently against and voted against the war, were the only Party to evince it.

 

Peter Phillips

 

dear friends….

Dear friends,

A brief note to say that I am (at last!) relinquishing all political activity. It is, if you include school, 50 years!

The great thing about the LDs is that, walking into a room of them, you suddenly find that you are NOT a lone eccentric in your views, and that overwhelmingly, LDs are actually NICE people. Although often quite irritating!

I have become too irritable! But the Party is in government; Ludlow is in great shape; and my own part of Shropshire has progressed from fallow ground to pretty well safe seats.

My most recent task was parliamentary liaison for Ludlow and I have to say that this has proved the most disappointing and unproductive: after 2 months’ leave, no replies have been received from a host of LD parliamentarians (or their SPADs) and frankly this is not good enough. Ministers are particularly poor. (D Laws has not yet come back on a Formal Complaint lodged 3 months ago by 3 of us.)

Anyway, that is the sort of stuff I need to spare you all!

I do wish you well. We are the only rational and compassionate Party in the frame….and many, many thanks.

Best wishes,

Peter

 

Dear Peter

You have given amazing service to the Liberal Democrat party over countless years. So, your sometimes challenging presence will be greatly missed, especially in the Ludlow Constituency, where you have played such a major role in building up the party membership and support.

We will do our best to build on your legacy. Please carry with you our profound thanks for all you have done.

I know I speak for the whole Constituency Executive in wishing you well for the future.  

Highest Regards

Bob, Ludlow Constituency Chairman

 

 

Peter

I will miss you and all your perceptive if sometimes acerbic notes to recalcitrants within the party hierarchy locally, regionally and nationally. You should also know that you are not a lone eccentric. The party would be nowhere without the individual tenacity that you modestly shrug off as eccentricity. I have worked alongside you – at varying distances – for more than forty years and I know you have never wavered in giving your active support to a party that, sadly, has not always deserved it. You will be sorely missed. With whom will I now share my all-too-often despairing moments? I hope you find contentment in your new party-free condition.

Very best wishes

As aye

Jock

Shropshire Schools Closures Complaint Goes to Minister

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Above: Peter Phillips presents Schools Minister David Laws with the formal Complaint at a LibDem event in Birmingham.

A formal complaint over Shropshire Council’s controversial schools closures has been tabled to Schools Minister David Laws. The complaint is being lodged by retired LibDem Leader Peter Phillips, and Shropshire Councillors Heather Kidd and Nigel Hartin.

 ‘Researching all this, I have to say, re-kindled my anger at the disdain and half-truths to which the public was treated by the Council,’ said Mr Phillips. ‘The chances of a ministerial intervention are always remote, but I am clear that there are issues to be looked at – and David Laws has a formidable reputation.’

The Complaint asserts, in sum, that the council failed to comply with Statutory Guidance on Schools Closures.

 ‘I have been involved in two phases of schools closures,’ said Cllr Kidd. The pain, the anger and often the despair was appalling. The very least one could have expected was proper process and clear responses. We didn’t have that.’

 ‘The Council’s assault on rural schools was shameful, said Cllr Hartin,’ There have already been two waves of closures, so it is quite likely that another is being brewed. I hope this Complaint may come as a warning shot.’

 Contact Peter Phillips 01588 650 625

Heather Kidd 01938 561 651

Nigel Hartin 01547 530 400

 The complaint is supported by the Nat Association of Small Schools(Contact: Mervyn Benford.)

Flood defences are not the answer for flood abatement

Dear Editor,

The building of more flood defences is no answer. Their effect is short term, as worse and more frequent storms arrive, and spatially they tend simply to shunt the floods on to places downstream.

What is needed is an urgent, wide-scale programme of flood abatement, whereby water is retained in the ground rather than flowing over it to rivers. There are 2 simple and proven strategies:

One is ‘buffer strips’ alongside watercourses, where there is no grazing. The effect is pretty well immediate. Surface water will be absorbed  into these ungrazed strips as into a blotter.

Secondly, afforestation within catchment areas. Woodlands hold huge amounts of water. Beneficial effects may be observed within a decade or  two. 

The problem is, how is this to be achieved?

In most of England, at least, County Councils have the responsibility of ‘leading’ on Floods but few powers or funds. Clearly,strategies like those above require strong powers of direction, at least, and as a ‘carrot’. compensation to landowners for the loss of grazing(or as an encouragement to take steps.) Yet, typically, no such powers or funds are available. Initiatives are small scale and piecemeal, funds are often through ostensibly other routes –  eg  the Clun freshwater mussel(ask me more!), not for flood abatement.

There have been at least 4,maybe more, ‘1 in 100 years’ floods since 2000. Time is not our friend in answering this threat.