Letters, Wednesday, November 20, 2013

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Don’t take chance on striking it rich

MY heart bleeds for the folks finding things tough at the moment due to high taxes and low benefits.

 How will people manage when winter sets in? Well, I have a plan, the result of a study by myself.

 The idea is to consider the way people spend their hard-earned cash and suggest better ways of managing. Of course, everyone is different so my methods will not apply to all.

 I have decided that, on top of income tax, Value Added Tax and the dreaded bedroom tax, there is another tax – the betting tax.

 I come face-to-face with it when I go to buy my newspaper on a Saturday.

 My local newsagent has a queue a mile long with clients clutching their Lottery tickets. Everyone is paying this ‘voluntary tax’.

 I can understand that the poor regard the Lottery as their only chance of escaping their plight, but if they study the odds of success, they will soon realise it’s a hopeless task – almost impossible. You have more chance of someone you have never heard of leaving you a fortune.

 Next in my search for savings, I nominate the betting shop, where the danger is not the horses, but the one-armed bandits. They take from the poor by providing hypnotic screens that many cannot resist.

 Believe me, you can lose pounds, literally in seconds. Gambling is an addiction and many women lose housekeeping they cannot afford.

 I know, as I see it every day, though I rarely bet myself.

 Finally, bingo and I must offer second-hand evidence as I never play, but family and friends say, once again, the financially embarrassed chase the “pot of gold” there as well.

 So there it is, one of the reasons why I believe so many people will either “heat or eat” this winter.

 I trust that the facts on gambling laid bare will help many gamblers to consider the joy of being gamble free.

 Let’s hope so.

Allan Wilkinson

Royals work hard

I TAKE great exception to the attack on the Royal Family by Ged Taylor, of Barnes (November 12).

 He writes that “they have never done a day’s work in their lives”.

 Let me tell him, The Queen at 87 puts in the hours that would put many much younger to shame.

 Even on the day of Prince George’s christening in St James’s Palace, she just about fitted it in, having undertaken two hours of paperwork and numerous audiences and briefings.

 After that, she went on to host a reception at Buckingham Palace.

 To mark her 21st birthday in 1947, she broadcast from South Africa that whether or not her life be short or long, she would dedicate it to the service of the country and Commonwealth Family.

 This she has done and more for the last 61 years. She is an important protector of our Constitution for while she occupies the throne, no dictator can assume a dominant position.

 As for Prince Charles, his charitable foundations have created about 400,000 jobs and his work supporting unemployed youth has been adopted as a model for job creation by the Department of Work and Pensions.

 Before Ged Taylor makes more ill-informed comments, he should be sure of his facts.

Michael Gray,

Thornhill

Costly marathon

NOW that the Marathon of the North has been put on hold for next year, I hope the city council – always looking to save money, we are assured – insist that the 10K and half marathon races are self-financing through the entry fees.

 Last year the 5,000 runners paid £140,000 in fees yet a Freedon of Information inquiry by Echo reporter David Allison revealed that the council shelled out an extra £76,000 – subsidising the participants (who each paid between £22 and £36) by £15 a head.

 May I suggest that Steve Cram’s company, which organises the events, is instructed to make sure that next year’s fees cover the entire costs so that the council is not required to pay any subsidy.

 Many North-East athletic clubs, staging fund-raising road races, charge far more modest fees yet still manage to make a profit.

 It seems strange that the council-run events cost so much more to host.

 What is the explanation for this?

Frank Johnson