Readers' letters - January 31

The 1940s were a good time for children to play safely,' says a correspondent
The 1940s were a good time for children to play safely,' says a correspondent

We could play safely on the streets in the 1940s

Living in the 1940s, parked cars were non-existent because nobody could afford to run one. Passing motor transport down the street was infrequent – the regular user being the horse-drawn brewery and coal carts, together with the manual fruit and veg, and rag and bone ones.
In this traffic-free area, the children were able to play in relative safety.
The boys and girls played hopscotch on the pavement, marbles in the street gutters. On the pavement, an intrepid gambler would prop up a 3d or 6d piece at a very low angle. From a distance, challengers rolled their marbles trying to hit the target and win the money – only genuine coloured marbles were allowed, no colourless ‘gobstoppers’.
I remember coming home at the end of the day with a shilling winnings for successful hits, and a pocketful of marbles which I had won from my turn setting up the target. Throwing cigarette cards at the side of house walls was another pastime – nearest one took the card.
We also played whips and tops, and turned skipping ropes across the street in which both girls and boys joined. There were impromptu football games with a rubber/tennis ball with the
passageways as goals.
Cricket was played with the street lamppost as the wicket. Should the soft ball be hit on to a house roof, someone would climb the drain pipe to retrieve it, or, if that was too dangerous, we would improvise a long piece of string with a solid object on the end and throw it on to the roof gutter and try to drag the ball down. There were relay races around neighbouring streets and tag games.
Many of us can look back with appreciation of the community spirit in the 1940s and wish that the children of today could enjoy the fun that we had in a safe environment in our childhood days.
Cyril Olsen
Address supplied

MPs need to live in the real world
It is a disgrace that MPs are in line to receive a pay rise of £1,300, taking their weekly pay to £1,488 – and this after getting a 10 per cent increase in 2015. This not only gave them a more than generous pay rise, it also gave them a massive rise in their pension pot as a large number are still on a final salary pension.
A lot of lower end public sector workers are not receiving anything like the weekly pay of an MP in a month and an extra £100 a month would make a huge difference to a lot of people. In addition to the generous salary, MPs:
n Receive an exceptional pension;
n Sit less in Parliament now than they have ever done;
n Get concessionary
food and drink whilst in
the House of Commons;
n Receive generous expenses.
All this for a job where no formal qualifications or training is required.
These people will never understand what it’s like to live in the real world unless they are treated in exactly the same way as those who actually live in the real world.
Since 2010, all other public sector workers have either had any pay increase capped at one per cent or received no pay increase at all. A nurse on an incremental increase received the increment but no pay rise. In addition, since 2010, most public sector workers have had to pay more into their pensions.
Whenever there is an increase in council tax, energy bills, rail fares or food bills, as is now starting to happen, the normal person has to find the money from somewhere to cover these increases as any pay rise is unlikely to cover it.
However, the MPs are quite happy sitting there, knowing their pay rise will more than cover any general rise in the cost of living –all paid for by the taxpayer.
All other services within the public sector have had to ‘modernise’ over the years or, in other words, make cuts, such as fewer police officers, council workers, firefighters, nurses... the list is endless.
Teachers, doctors and nurses are under more stress, yet the politicians who sit in the House of Lords have only seen increases to their pay and expenses. I believe IPSA, which supposedly regulates the pay and pensions for MPs, has no teeth whatsoever.
We are now expected to spend millions of pounds repairing the Houses of Parliament. This is now a great opportunity to ‘modernise’ our Parliamentary system and build a purpose-built Houses of Parliament
designed in such a way to promote proper debate rather than the current pantomime we see.
At a time when we are seeing nurses skipping meals and other workers relying on food banks, it is now right to end these generous pay rises, expenses and other concessions for the Lords and MPs and treat them like all other public sector workers,
because that is just what they are.
Linking MPs’ future pay rises to what public sector workers receive is more
Whilst one per cent of an MP’s current salary is still substantially more than that of most public sector workers, it may help them realise what financial pressures
normal people face with
rising costs.
Paul Costello