The Real Cost of Brown's Economic Policy

Article excerpt

Poor Gordon Brown! He lifted up his hand and ordained 3.5% growth ( and lo! the economy refused to obey him.

Still, all is not gloom and doom. You and I may gaze, appalled, at our bank statements, trying to work out how to avoid eating into our retirement savings (or, if we're helping to provide the country with its money supply by going into debt, how to squeeze out a living after we've serviced our loans), but never fear!

Here is Gordon waving the Retail Price Index, and promising us that inflation is under control!

The problem is that this averaging-out of price increases has little to do with the basic cost of living.

Mr Brown, apparently, hasn't realised that the cheap electrical goods which his RPI so proudly features are not the essentials of life.

Nor are low-cost, high-fashion clothes from low-wage economies.

Food, water, heating, council tax, household maintenance and travel costs ( all subject to rapid inflation ( are: not to mention house prices, which have more than doubled over the past 10 years or so.

Even those cheap electrical goods aren't all good news.

Planned obsolescence and the need to keep prices down mean that poor quality and frequent replacement are the norm.

Here in the real world people switch to the cheapest ( and frequently least nutritious ( loaf on the supermarket shelves and take to patronising the charity shops and cut-price stores mushrooming along our high streets.

Meanwhile Mr Brown fixes his eyes on far, theoretical horizons, ignoring the tides of debt-driven inflation that lap about his feeta

GILLIAN SWANSON,

Whitley Bay,

Challenges ahead for energy planners

BILL Ricalton of Longhorsley recently had an interesting letter published comparing the windmills at Soutra with Torness nuclear power station.

He calculated that it would take an area a third of Northumberland National Park of similar-sized windmills to produce an equivalent amount of electricity.

This would be correct if all produced electricity at their full rated capacity.

It is more likely that the windmills will operate at about a third of that of a nuclear station and that in reality the whole of the national park would be needed.

However, to produce the same amount of electricity from wind would also require careful siting of the same sized plant in another area in which the wind blows when it does not blow in the national park.

It would also need to blow at the same speed.

All types of electricity production need back-up capacity.

The real problem with wind is that variable wind speeds all over the country make it extremely difficult to provide a reliable output when compared with fossil and nuclear fuels.

GORDON ADAM,

Killingworth.

A good strategy for dealing with waste

THERE was a time ( when Newcastle Council incinerated most of its rubbish ( that I would have happily joined Mr James in criticising the council for its waste strategy (Letters, December 6).

In the last three years, however, the council has introduced a range of measures aimed not only at improving the city's recycling record but also at reducing the amount of landfill tax paid by the city's council tax payers.

These initiatives have included the rolling out of kerbside collection services across the city; the introduction of recycling facilities to 46% of the city's flats; increasing the range of items that can be recycled using the black box scheme; a pilot green waste collection service and a number of other education and information initiatives.

Perhaps the recent launch of a new pounds 1,000 prize draw for residents who use their black recycling box may help Mr James to recognise that waste is not simply waste.

Recycling preserves our precious resources, creates jobs and saves energy. …