I didn't criticise
SIR - I was concerned to see the misleading headline "Auditor criticises spending" on the front page of your newspaper on May 11. It is misleading because, as Auditor General, I can have no opinion about the Welsh Assembly Government's policy decisions on public spending.
Whilst it is true that public spending has almost doubled since devolution, the point was made to provide a context for our work and not as a criticism. The Wales Audit Office strategy that I launched in the company of the First Minister sets out how I intend to work with public sector bodies to ensure that services improve and that people in Wales benefit from accountable, well-managed public services that offer the best possible value for money. The First Minister has made it clear that he absolutely shares and supports that objective. The public sector in Wales has, indeed, secured a remarkable degree of commitment to working together in the interest of making best use of its resources.
Auditor General for Wales
SIR - In the early 1980s, I participated in discussions on the likely effects on the environment of a tidal barrage in the Severn estuary. The group concerned comprised representatives of various statutory bodies, including a representative of the then Welsh Office.
We identified a number of problems which could arise.
They included significant changes in water quality and sediments up and down stream of the barrage as well as major effects on birds and other animals living and feeding in and around the estuary.
Another concern was the effects on fish living in the estuary and passing through it. Some of the rivers flowing into the estuary have very important and valuable salmon fisheries and the impact of a barrage could be disastrous.
Only a very few tidal barrages have ever been constructed and significant environmental problems have been experienced at all of them. The construction of a barrage in the Severn would change that estuary for ever.
The "re-emergence" of this scheme has been generally welcomed in the press and in other quarters. In view of the facts, this enthusiasm must be tempered by realism and great caution.
Dr W ROSCOE HOWELLS
Formerly Director of Scientific Services, Welsh Water Authority, Llanelli
Out of touch
SIR - Why aren't Labour members up in arms at their money being spent on making sure Cherie Blair has a decent hairstyle at election time?
There are people in Wales that are not on £250 a week and they have a family to support. Labour have moved so far away from us in Wales; they keep on about Bevan and their party being the ones to bring us the NHS, but now it is they who are bringing it to its knees.
SIR - I am the representative from Stonewall Cymru that N Plaisted referred to (Letters, April 24).
On Good Morning Wales (BBC Radio Wales) I spoke about the need for schools in Wales to address the issue of homophobic bullying. We are still hearing from young people who have to deal with name calling, verbal abuse and even physical attacks on a daily basis. N Plaisted questioned why the presenter agreed with my comments.
Surely, N Plaisted, most sensible people would agree that verbal and physical bullying in schools ought to be tackled?
Policy and Public Affairs Officer,
Stonewall Cymru, Windsor Lane, Cardiff
SIR - Peter Hain's desire to eradicate alleged abuses of democracy with the National Assembly's regional electoral system reflects more on the failings of the Labour Party to secure a majority than anything else.
The current system is a result of a compromise that relates more to past and ongoing Labour turmoil over the concept of devolution itself rather than to any desire to give meaningful power back to the electorate within Wales.
The failure to deliver the Richard Commission recommendations, which would have replaced the current Additional Member System (AMS) with Single Transferable Vote (STV), was largely down to Westminster- based Labour MP's self-interest.
So much for putting the needs of the people of Wales first! Once again Labour is guilty of putting its own interests first, well before those of the Welsh people!
JONATHAN T CLARK
National Assembly Candidate for Monmouth Constituency,
Voters fed up
SIR - I read that the Institute for Public Policy Research wants us to be forced to vote in elections and that several Cabinet members are in favour. As much as I would love to see more people turning out on polling day, this is the worst possible answer.
There are two main reasons why turnouts have slumped.
People are fed up with seeing the political parties constantly at each other's throats instead of working together for the good of the community or the country and they are fed up with all the lies, the sleaze and the hypocrisy that disfigures government at all levels. Herding us to the polling stations (where like as not there'll be nobody worth voting for) won't change any of that one jot.
SIR - Whilst I am in favour of large events in Cardiff, some of the comments about the Test match rely more on high emotion than reason.
Brian Morgan of Cardiff Business School said there would probably be 100,000 overnight visitors. The ground capacity will be 15,500.
Even if there was a capacity crowd for five days, the total attendance would be 77,500. Most supporters travel to and from home. The only exceptions are media personnel, some rich, retired types who can afford to stay for the whole match and travelling supporters of the visiting team. This is not likely to exceed 2,500 in total, or 12,500 overnight stays.
Rhodri Morgan said he could not imagine anything better to raise the profile of Wales in cricket-playing nations. Most people outside the UK think Wales is a part of England. England playing in Wales and supported by locals will only reinforce that view.
From the time that the England and Wales Cricket Board was set up, the emblem and name of its team should have reflected the fact that two nations are represented. Unless this now happens, then whilst I will probably go to the Cardiff Test, I will not support the supposed "home" team.
Cowbridge Road West, Cardiff
SIR - John Whitehead recalled of a number of government slogans from the past, with kudos awarded to the Tories but the evidence was somewhat convoluted (Letters, May 2). To redress that, see below:
The Wilson governments of the 1960s had to deal with the result of 1950s "never had it so good" Macmillan years that prolonged profit taking at the expense of investment in UK industry which gave other countries bringing new technology and factories on line a huge advantage.
The early 1970s was the time of the Ted Heath administration when inflation and interest rates rocketed to some 30% per annum.
James Callaghan's untimely "what crisis?" referred directly to the industrial unrest in the late 1970s, a reaction by ordinary workers to restore earnings value following the reckless economic strategies of Davies some years earlier.
Regarding the economy handed over to the Blair government, Mr Whitehead conveniently overlooked the "boom and bust" policies of Thatcher and Major culminating in "Black Wednesday"1996.
Labour restored stability with control of inflation over the last nine years resulting in a stable environment for business success, record levels of employment and a huge increase in resources for education; health and social care services.
I conclude that Mr Whitehead, like many anti Labour contributors, views the past through "blue hued" spectacles but whatever errors this Government has committed, the alternative hopefully will be unacceptable to most voters.
Dyffryn View, Bryncoch, Neath, West Glamorgan
SIR - Following recent correspondence regarding the lack of a choice of English during S4C's rugby coverage, it was instructive to learn that S4C do not own the rights to broadcast a commentary in English.
A good many moons back I watched coverage of the World Sevens from Twickenham. The whole tournament was covered on ITV's second digital channel, but intriguingly, during the lesser pool games, where no home nation was involved, no commentary was available. All we had was the crowd noise, as if sitting in the stand.
Also, via the red button, we could add the referee's comments on top of the crowd noise. It was wonderful, and I opted for this even when commentary was available (the occasional graphic showing wind direction and speed, along with no replays during live play - it's very annoying hearing the crowd roar and not knowing why - would have been even better).
So come on S4C, get that monkey off your back with a "crowd only" option