'Not so smart motorway'

SIR - We’re told that millions of pounds has been spent to upgrade the M5 to a “Smart motorway”.

My recent experience somewhat belies that description.

Travelling south from the Midlands on Spring Bank Holiday Monday I entered the smart section. Having done so so the overhead matrix signs were lit up stating that there was an incident and telling traffic to slow to 50mph.

The variable speed limits changed throughout the smart section from 50 down to 40 then up to 60 and then back to 40. This caused traffic to brake and bunch up as they approached the signs.

Every Matrix sign along the whole length of the smart section kept warning of this incident. Finally I came to the end of the smart section, and the last matrix sign gave the all clear on speed restrictions and the incident warnings were erased.

The fact is there was NO incident at all despite the signs saying differently.

Is it any surprise that motorists take little notice of these warnings when they give conflicting and inaccurate information? Surely this defeats the objectively the exercise.

Now too with the hard shoulder an active lane at busy periods, what about breakdowns, It’s all very well having so called “safe refuge areas”. That’s fine providing one breaks down next to one.

What about a family with small children in a car breaking down on the inside lane on what was the hard shoulder and between refuge areas?

We were always warned that the hard shoulder is a dangerous place to loiter. Quite right too, but not half as dangerous as getting children or elderly and possibly disabled people out of a car on an a live inside lane of a busy motorway.

I accept that stranded vehicles are probably spotted from a control centre, but what about the time lag between the breakdown and assistance arriving?

Any motorway accident is often catastrophic due to speed and traffic volume, the scenario described above is truly frightening and an accident surely waiting to happen and at some stage it will.

There by gods grace go us all. Another hair brained ill thought out knee jerk idea from so called clever people.

Mike Edwards


'Charity is a serious business'

SIR - A small but frustrating whinge. When I was going to work through Crowngate in Worcester, I was ‘stopped’ by a representative for Cancer Research UK, trying to get me to by raffle tickets.

Now I support Cancer Research UK when I can, and appreciate the guy had a job to do, but what I don’t appreciate is someone I do not know firstly commenting on my ‘broad shoulders’ (why on earth he felt I would stop, I’ll never know!), then continuing to talk while I’m walking away!

To my detriment, I got annoyed at this ‘funny’ guy, and felt awkward and exposed, something I should not be made to feel when giving to charity, especially one which has a resonance with me, having lost my mum to cancer 14 years ago.

I later saw an advert for the Macmillan charity, where the message was presented in a sensitive and emotional way that didn’t make me feel pressured to give. T hat is what giving to charity should be like, without crappy jokes and false pleasantries about ones physique!

I sincerely hope the next time I walk throught Crowngate I’m not presented with the same scenario, as it will make me even less likely to give to such an important charity.

Dave Dunbar


'Brexit risk to our security'

SIR - Of all the many foolishly damaging reasons for the UK to break away from the EU, the idea of having different national laws separating countries, must be the stupidest.

International criminals of all sorts, from corporation tax dodgers to drug barons to murderous terrorists must be the ones who will benefit most of all from such changes, dividing and confusing the work of 28 national police forces, law courts, intelligence plus surveillance agencies, and security experts.

Common laws defend us all. The closer the legal systems of all these countries are to each other in shared values, also in their practical application over national borders, and the swift, more efficient cooperation of those courageous police forces to whom all citizens of every nation entrust their lives, then the safer we are.

It defies the common sense of the most jingoistic, nationalistic Brixiteer who has no intention to justify with any logic his shallow emotional desire to keep foreigners at bay.

It is an insane policy, given the present known facts, to create barriers to the efficiency between those who seek to save us.

C. N. Westerman

Mid Glam

'Big car tax problem'

SIR - On a busy street in Worcester, an estate car with a Latvian number plate had been left parked on the pavement with the driver’s door wide open completely blocking the pavement.  This forced not only myself but also a mother with a child in a buggy, to walk out into the road.

 This led to a conversation with somebody who knows about these matters.  Firstly surprisingly he said that this was not obstruction.  He then said that most of these drivers have neither tax nor insurance – apparently in Eastern Europe it’s usual for the driver to be insured rather than the vehicle, so when they come to the UK they don’t bother, although I didn’t think that ignorance of the law was any excuse.  Apparently due to low manpower levels they would be very unlucky if automatic number plate recognition picked them up.

When we had tax discs anyone could identify and report an untaxed vehicle – now specialised equipment is required.  Either by accident or design, this government is therefore conveniently helping these drivers to live more cheaply in this country.

How widespread, I wonder, is this practice not just amongst Eastern Europeans but the general population?  Isn’t the lack of surveillance false economy if it results in a loss of tax income, and doesn’t this betray a lack of joined-up thinking? Are we law-abiding motorists subsidising these people? Are these vehicles MOT tested?  What happens if there is an accident? I’d like to know what others think.

P Young


'I question the man’s sanity'

SIR - The decision by President Trump to withdraw the USA from the Paris Climate Change Accords proves just how unsuitable this man is for the office he has been elected to.

His allegation that climate change is a plot to undermine the American economy hatched by China to make America uncompetitive defies all reason and raises a question over the man’s sanity.

He chooses to ignore the undeniable and overwhelming (and “inconvenient”) truth that a CO2 build-up in the atmosphere leads to global warming. If it continues unchecked, there will come a tipping point beyond which nothing can be done to avert an existential catastrophe, the shape of which we can only guess at.

It also underlines the foolishness of Brexit which will temporarily weaken the EU when we should be uniting with the EU and the near 200 odd nations of the world who have signed up to reduce CO2 emissions.

Peter Nielsen


'A nation of animal lovers'

SIR - A taxi driver in St Swithin’s Street refused to take a passenger with a small pet dog. A second driver reluctantly accepted the fare.

Drivers should accept we are animal lovers and our pets are considered a family member.



'Rescue rats are the best'

SIR - I hope the local RSPCA have managed to find homes for the two rats that came into their care (Rat’ll do nicely! Belle and Pepper need home).

They are both lucky to have been taken in by the RSPCA, because so many rats, and other small animals, are finding themselves “unwanted” these days that rescues are finding it impossible to help them all.

The reason for this sad situation is that far more rats, mice, rabbits, guinea pigs etc. are being bred than there are good homes available for them.

In order to discourage this, anyone wishing to adopt such animals should obtain them only from rescues, rather than from pet stores or breeders.

Denise Garside