East Lothian Courier – 18 April 2024


The Royal Mail Horizon scandal rumbles on. The hero of the whole tragedy, the sub-postmaster Alan Bates, was as impressive in real life as he had been portrayed in the TV drama. Quiet, unassuming yet steely determined. There has to be much more than just this expose through the enquiry. Action must be taken against those who knew and connived to allow innocent people to suffer.

The corporations who profited at the expense of the little folk whilst milking profits need to be punished severely. That should mean eye watering fines in the tens of millions. Equally, though I’ve spent a lifetime seeking to reduce prison numbers severe action is needed against those who conspired to allow misery to fall upon so many.

At now £50,000 per annum to incarcerate someone, I’ve always argued that custodial sentences should only be for those who are a danger to our communities and from whom we must be protected. But also, for those for whom no other sanction is appropriate in our society. Rob an old lady of her savings and you must go to jail, violently assault someone likewise. It seems to me that such lines have been crossed here. Corporations and individuals must be appropriately punished. Justice demands that.

An issue that affects many in the rural parts of the county is concerning many and that’s the ending of the installation of woodburning stoves. Now I fully accept that they’re doubtless as inappropriate in high density urban areas as are four by fours and other Chelsea tractors. But in rural parts where there’s no access to the gas grid and heating can be a real issue, they’re essential. It’s not an emergency backup but vital additional heat in winter; even in cold snaps as we’ve just experienced. They don’t impact on neighbours and are part of the local economy with wood cutting an offspring from the local forestry. Manufacturers and installers also make and service the stoves, providing local jobs.

This is yet another supposedly green policy thought up in leafy city parts with no consideration for the practicalities of rural life.