SIR – I take issue with the comment (June 9) “Well-run zoos are not villains”. It depends how you define well-run – as profit-making enterprises or as proper custodians of potentially wild animals.

A very good programme on the radio recently came to the conclusion that zoos – any zoos – do not fulfill any of the criteria they claim. The only educational role is teaching that we have a right to confine other animals for our entertainment.

Why is it assumed that only large animals suffer from being confined? I have seen a poor lone meerkat slumped at a local petting zoo venue when it’s well-known that they normally live in family groups, and there were several other instances of indifference to the animals’ welfare.

Peter Newman suggests that “the land in question appears utterly worthless” – to humans perhaps, but I bet there’s plenty of wildlife making use of it.

Roberta Balfour


Buses vital to community

SIR – Back in January 1966 the Beeching cuts savaged the Cotswold Line with no less than eight rail stations closing – five of those in Worcestershire – and including Fladbury and Wyre.

Exactly 50 years later those same communities – now much larger villages – are being isolated by the latest round of bus cuts.

Lack of consultation with users and lack of publicity has been roundly condemned but then under present arrangements the only obligation on the operator of a commercial service – in this case First Midland Red – is to give 56 days’ notice to the Traffic Commissioners.

This has all too often resulted in regular upheaval to local services – often owing more to operational convenience rather than meeting the needs of the customer – when what is needed is greater stability in bus service provision to restore faith in and usage of our local services. Bus services need not only to be maintained but to be positively developed to cater for the massive increase in housing growth planned and already under way in South Worcestershire.

Worcestershire County Council has now launched a long overdue investigation into the devastating effects of halving the level of annual bus subsidies and it is now vital that there is proper and ongoing consultation with existing and potential users of our bus services. These services are not only vital to our local economy affecting usage of shops and local services but also the withdrawal affects health and well being of many who feel isolated in their local communities.

Julian Palfrey


Could you foster a child?

SIR – In the West Midlands last year, there were 9,370 children being looked after in local authority care. Your readers may not be aware that most of them were being cared for not in children’s homes but in the homes of families like theirs – and like mine I am a foster carer with children’s charity St Christopher’s in the West Midlands. They’ve been around for nearly 150 years and have lots of experience working with vulnerable young people.

As a carer I play a vital part in supporting looked-after children to stay safe, happy and achieve their full potential. Helping a young person build their self-esteem and watching them grow into an adult is one of the most rewarding things you can do. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else now.

However, there is a shortage of foster carers. The Fostering Network estimates that 9,000 more are needed across the UK. I would like to ask each of your readers: Could you help change a young life for the better? Could you foster a child?

St Christopher’s is looking for potential carers who have a spare room and the skills and patience to look after a vulnerable child. They provide full training, 24/7 support and a competitive allowance.

Readers can find out more at

Linda Blount

St Christopher’s Fellowship

Outcome of horse’s injury

SIR – Sam Cone of Arena Racing Company which manages the Worcester Racecourse told us how the racing industry takes the welfare of the horses very seriously, but he failed to mention what happened to the horse Fear the Dark who was injured in the first race on Ladies Day.

The horse was taken away in the ambulance. Many horses don’t die on the track but unfortunately are put down afterwards because their injures make them unable to race again. Lets hope that Fear the Dark was not seriously hurt and has made a full recovery. Can you let us know Mr Cone?

Max Burgess


Why can’t we recycle label?

Sir – Can anyone tell me why the plastic labels on the plastic drinks bottles are not recyclable? The bottle is recyclable so why not the label? How many people take of the label?

What happens to the bottle if it still has a non-recyclable label on it when it gets to the sorting area?

John L Reynolds

St John’s, Worcester