SIR - Peter Black's statement (in Martin Shipton's article of September 8) that decisions regarding the reorganisation of sixth forms have been removed from local authorities is totally misleading.
Local authorities are empowered by the School Standards and Framework Act to make proposals for sixth form or whole school reorganisations within their areas and to determine those proposals themselves if there are no objections. I, as Minister, only become involved in the determination of such proposals if there are objections to the proposals after they have been published by the local authorities concerned.
Indeed, this remains the most likely way in which proposals affecting sixth form provision will be made in the future.
Elwa's power to propose changes to sixth form provision under the Learning and Skills Act covers circumstances in which such reorganisations may embrace more than one local authority or involve a foundation or voluntary aided school or a further education institution. Such proposals would be beyond the powers of any one local authority to decide; but they would still need to be made with the support of the local authorities concerned if they were to have any realistic prospect of being approved.
This will continue to be the case when this power is transferred to the National Assembly next year. I, as Minister, will consider any objections to such proposals in exactly the same way as if the proposals had been made by the local authorities themselves. I will not be involved in the preliminary stages of bringing forward or consulting on proposals: this will be handled by Assembly officials under formal delegation arrangements and in co-operation with the LEAs and other local stakeholders.JANE DAVIDSONEducation and Lifelong Learning Minister, National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff
Boys saw 'kickings'
SIR - I am so angry to say this, but after attending the Wales v England soccer match on Saturday I find myself almost embarrassed to be Welsh.
As a WRU debenture holder I was fortunate enough to get hold of four tickets for the game, so I took my nine-year-old son and two of his mates to the match as a birthday treat. Both of the lads are English as I live in Stow on the Wold, although I originate from Pembroke Dock. I am in the RAF so I always end up living away from home. Unfortunately as a Welsh rugby supporter, I was naive enough to think that it would be safe to bring three nine-year-olds along to watch their footballing heroes. How wrong I was. The atmosphere was so hostile that two of the lads were in tears after moronic Welsh supporters decided to give a few English supporters a good "kicking" after England scored. This happened no more than 50ft from us and was one of at least four fights that broke out in the surrounding area.
The question I want to ask all Welsh football "supporters" is how do I explain to a nine-year-old who loves his football, that the sport is infested with a moronic yob culture that defies belief? It was not just the fighting that we witnessed in the ground and in the streets afterwards that proves this. We were surrounded by men and women of all ages who verbally abused every English player who touched the ball, every decision that the referee made and to cap it all off actually believed that John Hartson could play football.
The mood was typified not only by the appalling reaction to the British National Anthem, but by the fact that the so-called supporters did not even have the ability to sing the Welsh anthem and at best could only hum and clap along to Men of Harlech. Call yourself Welsh? Every person who booed the anthems and could not even sing their own anthem is a disgrace to the Welsh nation.
The Welsh public need to know that the moronic and hostile actions of many, (and it was not just a few) football supporters are just not acceptable.
As I was consoling my son and trying to explain to him that he should continue playing soccer for our local team, he asked me "Dad. Why was everyone so nasty?" My answer was "I just don't know" - there are just no words that can explain or justify the hostility that emanated from Cardiff that day. Those who say it is just a minority were not in Cardiff last Saturday. I will never attend another international football match and I am sure that my son and his two friends will think twice.
I was truly ashamed and angry and frightened.
Stow on the Wold
SIR - I must disagree with the comments made by your columnist that those who booed the English national anthem during the Wales v England game should be ashamed of themselves.
I believe that fans booed because of the negative connotations that come hand in hand with the anthem God Save the Queen. To many Welsh people the anthem represents the negative aspects of British imperialism and the monarchy.
Many of us believe that Wales should be a socialist republic free of monarchic rule, therefore we do not want to be reminded of the royal family during every sporting occasion or claim that we are "British" come national events, and that we must claim God Save the Queen as "our own" national anthem!
As a young person in Wales, I believe that the monarchy is out of date and archaic, and it is about time that we modernise and properly invest our money into the education and health services as opposed to funding the exuberant lifestyles of the royal family. After all, the next generation of royals a la Harry and his Nazi costume outfit is hardly a role model for the youth of today!
Youth Organiser, Plaid Cymru Youth Movement
Call that inspired?
SIR - I was interested to read that David Beckham felt that the booing of God Save The Queen was inspirational for the England team.
Whilst I in no way condone the booing, if that was an inspired performance by England I would hate to see an ordinary one.
£1 a litre is here
SIR - The expert from the Petrol Retailers Association who doesn't think "£1 a litre is on the horizon in the short term or even this year" (Western Mail, September 5) should visit Llandrindod Wells.
Diesel here - at the only garage in the town- has been £1 a litre and unleaded petrol is £1.03 since yesterday! Use public transport? In rural Mid Wales?
After the flood
SIR - The flooding disaster that the southern states of the USA is experiencing is unprecedented in modern times, for the simple reason that the devastation has affected so many people and the widespread infrastructure of a forward-thinking society.
The area of New York affected in 9/11 disaster was limited to mainly office accommodation and a transient commuter population.This disaster differs in that the police officers, paramedics, fire officers, doctors, nurses and national guardsmen are also victims as they along with their families live and work amongst the devastation. They have little option but to continue to do a professional job whilst being unable to undertake the recovery of their own personal lives.
This is quickly turning into an humanitarian disaster on a grand scale - surely the UN, more used to dealing with such events in third world countries, should now be mobilised to assist in the New World.
Emergency Planning Officer, St John Ambulance (Wales), Cardiff
Missing flag cringe
SIR - Why did the Celtic Manor replace the Welsh flag with the Union flag for the EU summit?
I know that Germans do not hide their regional flags in shame when entertaining foreign guests, so why should we? If Mr Blair and his friends cannot bear the sight of our flag, perhaps they should spare us the expense and disruption of their junkets in future. Shame on the Celtic Manor for this pathetic colonial cringe.
Clifton Road, Abergavenny
SIR - I agree with your editorial comment on the impact of hurricane Katrina on the southern states of America. Will the world be asked to help or will the so-called richest country decide to "go it alone" in the mammoth clear-up task which lies ahead?
The images so far show despair and desperation, along with anger at the woefully inadequate response to an unprecedented situation in modern times.Disasters never fail to strike in areas where there is already poverty and deprivation.
As people wait, they will need the basic supply of clean water, food and shelter to maintain life for months to come.
I noticed that President Bush has aged considerably since this happened, and I wonder if he now recognises that his failure to sign up to the Kyoto agreement has brought a salient and swift reminder of what climate change and global warming can do.
Leaders and governments around the globe, who still wear blinkers on these issues, might just about decide to remove them. President Bush needed the mighty assistance of Katrina to remove his.
Meadows Road, Cross Hands, Llanelli