Sleeping on the streets
Sir: Mark Palmer claims that ‘homelessness is hardly a top government priority’ (‘Home truths’, 1 December). I was disappointed to read this, given the ambition of this government to make rough sleeping a thing of the past.
As I have said previously in this magazine, we are committed to supporting people off the streets and have committed £1.2 billion to tackle all forms of homelessness. We are working tirelessly to end rough sleeping by 2027 and have outlined our long-term plan — backed by £100 million — to get people into a safe and secure home where they can rebuild their lives. We have also dedicated £28 million to the innovative Housing First pilots, and I am delighted to say the first residents supported by the scheme are moving into their new homes in the coming weeks.
But this funding is just the beginning. I have also placed a new duty on councils so that they are legally required to not just provide support for the homeless, but to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place. No one is predestined to spend their life on the street, and the cost in terms of broken lives is unacceptable.
Tackling homelessness across the country will continue to be one of our top priorities as we look towards a future where no one has to sleep on our streets.
Communities Secretary, London SW1
Fear of Corbyn
Sir: Hats off to Ross Clark for his timely highlighting of the perils of a Corbyn-led government (‘The Corbyn effect’, 1 December). For those who remember the 1970s, the spectre of an unreconstructed far-left socialist and his acolyte ensconced as neighbours in Downing Street is a terrifying yet wearyingly predictable scenario. Unfettered by opposition, they would see Britain’s economy as being ripe for experimentation.
Some of Corbyn’s policy pronouncements which are already in the public domain are alarming enough. Even more concerning should be the as yet unuttered thoughts lurking in the corners of Corbynista minds; the authoritarian student politics and divisive dogma. If Corbyn is elected, we can look forward to a huge amount of elaborate tax legislation that will play well to his supporters, but drastically damage the economy. History, as they say, repeats itself. This time around, the consequences could be catastrophic.
Alexander S. Mckibbin
Sir: I really must object to the absurd suggestion in Rod Liddle’s column that anybody would do lewd things at Carnforth station in 2018 (‘Sex in church is fine — just keep the Christians out’, 1 December). It has been beautifully restored and is always sufficiently busy to ensure decorum. For such behaviour to happen it would have to be at Crewe, which is much more up to modern expectations.
King’s Lynn, Norfolk
Women and jazz
Sir: Lionel Shriver in her piece concerning the lack of women in professional jazz reminds me of events 50 years ago in the aftermath of the civil rights protests in America (‘Jazz is dominated by men. So what?’, 1 December).
One of the changes to US laws governing the appointment of players to professional orchestras was that all such bodies were instructed that, by law, they must conduct all auditions for new players anonymously, behind screens, in order to avoid any unconscious bias. This resulted in an unexpected but very significant increase in women players in orchestras across the country. It proved that the most problematic bias among the judging panels was not against race, but against women.
I clearly recall in those days being told by one member of my own (British)orchestra’s adjudication panel that if they heard a man and a woman of equal standard, they would automatically award the post to the man, because he would have a family to support.
Clearly the jazzers need to start auditioning anonymously.
Cwm Pennant, Gwynedd
Sir: James Delingpole is correct in saying renewable energy has many drawbacks, and that decarbonisation should not necessarily take precedence over all other environmental considerations (‘Will no one ever take on the Green Blob?’, 1 December). But since he didn’t go so far as to suggest climate change isn’t real, he presumably accepts that decarbonisation is necessary, just not at all costs?
Perhaps he would have preferred that a nuclear power plant be built in the Wye Valley instead? A nuclear power plant would cause no harm to bird life, would emit no infrasound or shadow flicker, and would produce power reliably, all the while being low carbon — thus resolving many of his complaints about renewable wind energy. It would still ‘blight the unspoilt landscape for miles around’, but I am sure he would accept that as a necessary sacrifice in ensuring we have a landscape to enjoy at all in decades to come.
Cricket on the radio
Sir: While it was a struggle to locate Talksport 2 on my digital radio, I must agree with Roger Alton (Sport, 1 December) that its coverage of the Sri Lankan cricket tour was very good, though I do not share his apparent relish at the ousting of the BBC’s Test Match Special. Its traditions and characters have been cherished by millions over the years, including the cakes, the absence of which he notes. Schadenfreude?