Readers' letters - May 9
Endangered hedgehogs need our help to survive and thrive
I know hedgehogs are around and about as they’ve left evidence on the front lawn and by the back gate.
Until recently I hadn’t set eyes on the culprit(s).
Many gardens are enclosed, preventing hedgehogs having a much-needed thoroughfare for their night-time foraging.
A few weeks back we cut out a hole in the garden gate, created two hedgehog nesting sites, left out food, and waited.
We suspected hedgehog activity as the food had been eaten, dishes upturned, areas in the flower border flattened, and once again there was that evidence, now on the back lawn.
As I stepped out of my back door the other night to investigate, torch in hand, I almost trod on a huge beast of a hedgehog.
S/he curled up and played dead until I went away, and then went about its usual hedgehog business, snuffling and shuffling around the garden.
Our suspicions had been confirmed.
Better still, two nights later, THREE hedgehogs found their way through the hole in the gate into the garden.
We leave out plenty of hedgehog-friendly snacks, clean drinking water, and wait in eager anticipation to see our prickly visitors.
Sadly hedgehogs are an endangered species.
Only with our help will they survive and thrive.
Renovate and use empty homes
Before the facile “build more houses” solution is quoted as canon, let’s just take a look at the empty and dilapidated houses all over the area.
Currently the Government charges VAT on a house renovated from uninhabitable, on top of that, capital gains tax on its sale in a renovated state, plus council tax for an uninhabited property of up to 150 per cent of usual rates when there is nobody living there, even if the property is completely uninhabitable.
This needs a supply side solution.
1: Allow building inspectors from local authorities to certify buildings as uninhabitable and charge a nominal amount – say up to £300– for certification.
This would be for things like missing kitchen, bathroom, boiler, serious structural damage etc.
2: Exempt uninhabitable buildings from stamp duty to make them more attractive to buy.
3: Refund the council tax from uninhabitable certified properties for the period of renovation once it has been renovated (this still charges landlords from keeping empty properties whilst not discouraging renovation).
4: Remove capital gains tax from all sales of domestic dwellings and replace with a progressively dissuasive tax on buy-to-let property to encourage large-scale landlords to sell up.
Exempt social housing associations from the tax.
We need to get empty properties improved and used.
In view of the draconian new fines for drivers caught speeding, and new laws they are asked to observe regarding cyclists, the time to curb the activities of cyclists riding on pavements, ignoring traffic lights, and the like, is long overdue.
One also has to wonder if cyclists who drink a pint or two are, like most other folk, ever checked for being under the influence of drink or drugs while riding.
Furthermore, in view of the millions of pounds spent on cycle lanes, isn’t it time their use was enforced?
Outlawing riding on pavements is perhaps a good way to start!