Letters, Thursday, May 14, 2015

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It is a disgrace homes are empty

RADICAL plans are needed to get almost a quarter of a million empty homes back onto the market and help ease the housing crisis.

 The properties stand empty despite 1.4million people being stuck on waiting lists for council houses and homelessness rising.

 Yet the housing crisis could be eased by bringing the 218,000 long-term empty homes – those unoccupied for more than six months in England – back into use.

 To get those empty homes on the market quicker, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR North), the UK’s leading progressive thinktank, proposes letting local government decide their own taxes and funding programmes for empty homes and cutting from two years to one the qualifying period for taxing empty homes.

 It’s totally unacceptable to think that while thousands of people are homeless, we have nearly a quarter of a million properties that stand empty.

 With a better tax and funding system, we can bring more homes onto the market, and encourage those holding empty properties to fund the costs of those who don’t have a place to call home.

 More fundamental changes are needed to address the housing crisis – mainly a massive increase in house building – but bringing empty homes back into use can ease the strain faced by people at the sharp end of the housing shortage.

Bill Davies,

Research Fellow at IPPR North

Highlight issues of mental health

THIS is Mental Health Awareness Week, an annual event which has my full support because it highlights an area of health, which, I believe, fails to receive the funding and publicity it deserves.

 It is basically the Cinderella of the NHS because mental health issues may not be as obvious as physical ailments, but the reality is they are just as important and debilitating.

 They cause anguish for the sufferer and their families who deserve all the help they need from health professionals but funding shortages mean they face long waiting lists.

 This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue, we have all read of those who have taken their own lives while waiting for help.

 Mental health services must be properly funded for the sake of those afflicted as well as society generally.

Jonathan Arnott,

UKIP North East MEP

Fears over African migrants dilemma

I HAVE been watching Sky News regarding the African migrants.

 It is now going to be too easy for the whole of Africa to settle in Europe.

 No checks of any kind are being made on individuals. Who are some of these people? Where do they actually come from in Africa? Are they criminals – murderers or rapists? Do they carry diseases?

 We have no knowledge at all as to who these individuals actually are.

 Yes, the majority will be law-abiding people but some will not, and here we are giving new identities to all and sundry.

 There is also the question as to why allow hundreds of thousands into Europe? We are already overcrowded.

 Can we afford to keep all these people and their children?

 It will only bring more problems to our communities.

Dave Rogers,

Pallion

Children as young as 10 smoking

WHAT is happening to our children when they are allowed to go to school smoking.

 Some are as young as 10 years old.

 Do parents know what their children are doing when they are out or don’t they care?

 When I was young, I had to be in the house for 9pm.

James Watson,

Sunderland