Readers' letters - January 16

A correspondent says referees must be able to be criticised
A correspondent says referees must be able to be criticised

We must be able to criticise football referees’ decisions

For more letters:

We all have opinions on a huge range of issues and we pride ourselves in being able to express them, don’t we? Yes, within the bounds of humanity and decency.
So we can call out ministers, we can criticise the churches and we can even have a view about the Royal Family. We can speak out about the NHS and comment about people’s driving skills.
But there is one taboo subject that is close to our hearts and minds, where criticism is not only discouraged, it is actually penalised.
Guess what it is?
Let me get you closer.
We can shout out about the managers, the players, the owners and even the state of the pitch and the facilities for supporters. Yes, it’s our great game of football. And what we can’t do is have our managers and clubs criticise the performance of referees.
So let me concede upfront: they have a difficult job and need to make tight judgements. However, we don’t need to treat them like an endangered species.
They can miss offsides, wrongly award or deny penalties, they can book the wrong players, they can decide when a hand ball is not a hand ball and why one tackle
deserves a yellow card, when an almost similar one does not. Or why this one is a red card or not.
And so points can be lost,
managers can be sacked, players left out of teams or sold on and, in the extreme, clubs can be relegated or miss out on promotions.
But referees remain untouchable, they cannot be criticised. Managers can be told to ‘behave’, banned from the touchline and be fined for suggesting a referee’s performance might not be up to scratch.
It surely boils down to this: top league referees are not volunteers, they are professionals, handsomely rewarded. It is their living, and like the rest of us, they should front up to their good days, and their not so good days.
Peter Gruen
Address supplied

What is the endgame here?

I love trees and forests.
News of the so-called Northern Forest should fill me with joy then, right?
A primeval forest in the making, it is not...
Saplings will be rammed on to wasteland on the edge of motorways and on roundabouts.
Whips will be squashed on the sides of shopping centres or junctions.
Many of them will be vandalised and choked by fumes.
Others will probably die off in a few decades’ time when this ‘initiative’ is forgotten.
Hardly something that will fill us with wonder.
I suspect though the real reason for the Northern Forest is somewhat more similar. It is a ruse to allow rural development to take place more easily – particularly fracking.
Green field development could be permitted as long as the developer offsets his encroachment into the country by buying a few scrawny trees for a section of hard shoulder.
After all, when was the last time a Government, especially this insidious collection of political minnows, ever do anything just for the good of the people or the environment?
What’s the endgame here?
Richard Tandy
via email

Continuation hospitals

Re: NHS bed shortage.
I’m an ex-nurse from the 60s, 70s and 80s and the obvious answer to this horrendous situation is to open up continuation hospitals.
And for the elderly, who are blocking beds in the general hospitals, the answer is to reopen geriatric hospitals, so they can be nursed until they are able to go home.
When I worked in
hospitals, I remember taking patients to sitting ambulances to be transferred to a local continuation hospital until they were well enough to go home.
Some were post-operation patients.
Someone in their wisdom decided that these places were no longer needed.
Absolute madness, and now we are all suffering from their incompetence.
I remember visiting at least two of my elderly relatives at the local geriatric hospital where they were nursed until ready and able to return home, or one of them went into a rest home.
I am so very angry.
How can the people, councils and government not see what these decisions have done to us?
Janette Ellwood
via email

EU debate

Apparently with over 132,000 petition signatures, Parliament will be debating on a request to “Leave the EU immediately”. This parliamentary debate will take place on January 22, for anyone that’s interested.
Not seen a mention on the BBC?
When the debate to
remain in the EU takes place is anyone’s guess, maybe SIR Cleggy could tell us, without lying?
Terry Palmer
Address supplied