Wales is not a priority for Labour
SIR - Tuesday's article on how "Wales and the regions" could lose out on £2.8bn to London as a result of the 2012 Olympics can hardly have come as a surprise. However, the Labour Government in Westminster continues to bury its head in the sand, reassuring those of us that live outside London that "steps will be taken" to redress the balance.
On the same day, we are told that the Welsh Commonwealth Team will leave for Melbourne having received just £25,000 of a £150,000 grant from the Labour Government in the Assembly, leaving the governing body to search for a loan to cope with a huge cash-flow problem. It is clear from these two stories that Wales is not top of Labour's list of priorities in either Westminster or Cardiff Bay.
It is also understood that with the concentration of lottery funding on the London Olympics in 2012, funding to Wales will be cut by a half from 2008 onwards. This will be catastrophic for bodies such as the Welsh Sports Council and it is high time that the Labour Assembly Government explained how this massive setback will be overcome.
OWEN JOHN THOMAS AM
Shadow Minister for Culture, Welsh Language and Sport
SIR - I am truly amazed at the response of our Assembly members to the recent Council Tax rebanding inflicted on Wales. Of all the UK regions, poor Wales has been the subject of this iniquitous process. You would thought that our regional leaders would have been "up in arms" at the unfairness of the scheme.
Instead we have heard the following lame justification:
a: it is the Law( but not in England or Scotland)
b: Council Tax in Wales is 20% lower in Wales. (If so then please explain why my Band H property costs £2,040 pa compared to Band H in Westminster of £1236)
c: it is a re-distribution of the Council Tax burden(Perhaps the Assembly could have forgone the £50m extravagance of a new debating chamber and really helped the poor of Wales - maybe it could even have been put to a People's vote! )
Like many others, I feel betrayed that our leaders operate with double standards and seem to have no real interest in the welfare of the principality which they are supposed to represent. They acquiesce in a completely unfair piece of legislation because it provides more money to splatter in an irresponsible manner.
Assembly Members of all parties should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this situation to occur.
If they will not stand up for their electorate then the people must make a stand on a matter of principle.
Park Street, Bridgend
SIR - The Royal Mail must operate the biggest rip off con ever. I'm referring to the standard one pound handling fee if an item is to be delivered with deficient postage.
Last week I was notified by the local sorting office, that they had a letter for me which had a deficient postage of a massive five pence with the handling charge.
I had to pay a total of £1.05.
All of these decisions are made at main areas sorting office.
This rip off handling charge must generate thousands of pounds annually.
If any of your readers are asked to pay this deficient postage demand that they weigh the item in your presence.
I had a similar experience last year when I was told that I had to pay £1.75 deficient postage. Asking them to weigh the item in my presence, it was found that it had enough postage and it was a human error by postal staff.
This sorting office tried to con me for £1.75, and I would urge people in similar circumstances to change their human errors it will save you money.
The same Hain?
SIR - I was surprised to read the letter by your correspondent Peter Hain MP. Is this the same Peter Hain who campaigns for democracy and minority rights in far flung parts of the world?
The implications of his comments are astonishing. Opposition party offices to be closed and funding favoured for the government party - for a moment I was beginning to wonder if I was reading about the politics of Zimbabwe! With the Labour hierarchy having spent much of the summer filing bogus complaints about an opposition AM on maternity leave we can now look forward to them discarding the red flag at conference in favour of the waving of red herrings.
It could be argued that the "Clwyd West Question" of having opposition offices in constituency seats held by the government was solved by the rather fortunate loss of the said member for Clwyd West in the general election!
The purpose of devolution is to transfer more power from Westminster to the Assembly not from the Assembly to the desk of the Secretary of State. The targeting of the opposition is a side issue to the real debate surrounding the Government of Wales Bill which is how workable the law making proposals will be when Mr Hain has left for another place?
Lord Richard marked the proposals as 'B+'. With a Tory Secretary of State from Chesham, Worcester or Wokingham they'll become 'B' unworkable.
Heol y Bont, Aberystwyth
SIR - When it comes to repairs to your home Rhondda Cynon Taf council is a proper shambles.
The council leader promises such wonderful things in the media but when it comes to repairs he is left with egg on his face.
Let me give you a few examples.
The wife and myself applied for a new sink unit. When the inspector called he said I can only give you the bottom half of the sink unit because the top half is not dented and it have not turned rusty, so we must wait for the top half to go rusty then we will get a new one.
For six months we tried to get our toilet plastered. In the end they said they are short of plasterers and could we put fillings around the toilet wall instead.
For more than eight months we have been waiting to have our shower repaired. Each time we phone the same excuse is trotted out they are chasing the plumber and he will be with you soon, but of course he never arrives.
As for the toilet we had to have a private plasterer in to do the work.
SIMON ROBIN ST CLAIR
Bryn Hedd, Gilfach Goch, Rhondda Cynon Taf
Counting on decline
SIR - The reference (Western Mail, December 14) to the use of the decimal system of counting was no surprise but was further evidence of the decline of a specific Welsh culture among Welsh speakers.
The vigesimal system of counting with twenty as a base was I believe the traditional Celtic method as it was with 10% of North American Indians in 1913!
Evidence of Madoc? One of my personal Welsh dictionaries published about then only uses that system for fifty for which half a hundred is also given.
I use the vigesimal system (except for half a hundred and under twenty) in speech and in personal dealings in the bank and for writing cheques and am understood, as my other Welsh dictionary published in the 1980s gave both methods.
I am wondering for how long it will be possible as modern popular Welsh dictionaries may begin to use only the decimal translation in this century.
Another definition which still surprises me is the naming elementary, rudimentary, mathematical process namely arithmetic, algebra and geometry which are no longer described as such but are all called mathematics!
J WYNNE LEWIS
Nant Bychan, Moelfre, Ynys Mon
Pity the English
SIR - The report (December 14) of the Oxford University team investigating the benefit that might accrue to basic mathematics learners by using modern Welsh numbering must surely strike a cord in all who have ever been in such a teaching position.
The discovery by ancient Egyptians that a pebble (a calculus) moved into the adjacent column multiplied or divided its value by ten was a stroke of genius.
How much more might have been achieved during the many centuries of Roman numbering if it had been adopted more widely!
Thankfully the columnar method is with us today, though I expect most of your readers will remember being taught that to add a nought to a numeral makes it ten times bigger, two noughts a hundred times and so on.
Of course, it does nothing of the sort.
It is moving that numeral one place to the left and filling the empty space with a nought that effects it.
If only parents and grandparents trying to help their little ones realised it, how much easier it would be.
Using the Welsh system must take the columnar structure of such basis importance, even easier to understand.
So pity the poor English speaking child of limited ability who not only has to cope with an antiquated numerical system but a largely illogical spelling system also.
How on earth we get WUN from one and TOO from two is anyones guess - leave alone eye or what or some etc!
It is surely no wonder that Britain is near the bottom of the educational league table.
When will authority recognise the fact?
Pentrefelin, Llandeilo, Carms