Yeah but, no Vicky Pollards work here
SIR - Deborah Lawson, chair of the Professional Association of Teachers, does a great disservice to the majority of hard-working, dedicated and very professional staff working in childcare. (Western Mail, August 3).
I have no idea what facilities exist in Ms Lawson's home region of Gloucestershire, but to suggest that nursery employees are all "Vicki Pollards" is nothing short of insulting. I am chair of the management committee of a day care nursery in Clydach Vale, Rhondda, and if Ms Lawson would care to visit she would find a very different scenario to the one she paints.
At Sunshine Corner all staff wear uniforms - trousers and T-shirts - with the nursery logo. They certainly do not come to work in "chunky shoes" and while I am sure they enjoy a night out as much as the rest of us they are far too busy looking after the children to spend their time discussing "how hungover they are feeling" as she puts it.
All nurseries are inspected regularly and have to meet stringent standards. Staff are poorly paid for the responsibilities they are expected to take on. In no way is it an easy career option.
I would suggest Ms Lawson should be turning her attention to other problems within the education service, such as the fact pupils will be being taught in many schools by unqualified staff due to the imposition of the workload agreement and the lack of money to cover teachers' salaries.
Now that should be of concern to everyone.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Candidate,
Male nursery staff
SIR - Reading about the reported attitude problems and lack of skills in many trainee nursery workers one is forced to ask whether attracting a higher calibre of trainee could be solved by paying them higher wages and also encouraging more men to enter the profession.
At the moment few males enter this field because of the low pay and suspicion of their motives for wanting to work with young children. Isn't it high time this bias was acted on and more nurseries - both state and private - aimed for a much higher percentage of male staff, or is it just too easy to keep the status quo?
Driving cyclists mad
SIR - This is a letter to the woman in a black Fiesta who shouted abusive language at me as I cycled home last night.
I would like to apologise for the obvious anger and frustration I apparently caused you as I cycled home last night. I was unaware I was doing anything wrong by cycling on the road and observing all traffic rules and would welcome your insight into what it was that caused you such anxiety so I can avoid causing similar upset in future.
I would also like to apologise if it caused you further distress when I was able to pass the queue of traffic you sat in as I cruised home, avoiding the stresses and strains you had to suffer on your journey.
As you are so attuned to the correct way to respond when other road users aggrieve you I would be grateful of your assistance. Perhaps you could advise me of the correct abuse to shout at drivers when I regularly encounter them doing any of the following: turning left in front of me, particularly without signalling or looking in the wing mirror; honking the horn repeatedly purely because I am on the road; opening the car door without looking so causing me to swerve into traffic to avoid being knocked off my bike; pulling suddenly into the bus and cycle lane to avoid queues of traffic; parking a vehicle on a cycle lane; and using a mobile phone while driving.
Failing that, please feel free to suggest a multi-purpose string of abuse suitable to direct at any driver endangering my life as happens on a daily basis.
Stop Israel now
SIR - The bombardment of Lebanon and the continuing occupation of Palestinian land needs to be condemned.
The attacks on Lebanon have murdered more than 300 people, nearly half of them children. Some 500,000 Lebanese citizens have been displaced and a previously war-torn country's infrastructure destroyed.
Israel is heavily armed with £5bn of US military funding being used to deny Palestinian peoples their land rights. This includes the occupation of settlements, the bulldozing of homes and the use of brutal military force on civilian populations. Bush's imperialist agenda of war on Syria and Iran are part and parcel of the Israeli war machine's bid to do the bidding of US military interests.
The entire Lebanese population is being punished for the actions of Hezbollah after the capture of two Israeli soldiers, after Israel has imprisoned or killed thousands of Palestinians.
Article three of the 1949 Geneva Convention for the Protection of Civilians outlaws violence against persons and lives of all those who do not actively participate in military operations.
In order to stop the attacks on Lebanon pressure must be bought to bear on Israel by immediately stopping arms sales from British companies that make vast profits from the killing of civilians. Second, British air bases are being used by America to supply Israel with bombs to attack Lebanon. Economic sanctions should also be applied together with condemnation from the Houses of Parliament and the Prime Minister.
Welsh Committee Communist Party,
Wales in control
SIR - Given the success and punctuality of the completion of the Millennium Stadium and the Millennium Centre and the absolute chaos surrounding the Bath Spa and the ill-fated Wembley Stadium, surely the time has come for England to be ruled from Wales.
J CYRIL HUGHES
Maes y Sarn,
No housing transfer
SIR - A report produced by the National Audit Office revealed that the cost of improving housing after stock transfer was £1,300 per home more than if it remained under local authority control (www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk).
According to the Government, stock transfer injects private investment into housing.
In reality, stock transfer is just an accounting scam that makes Government spending invisible by taking borrowing off the balance sheet.
Although hidden, the costs remain.
Furthermore, the Government spends millions subsiding stock transfer.
In 2004, it budgeted £800m to write off debts after housing stock had been transferred.
Make no mistake, the money is there to do up our homes.
Between us, tenants in Wales pay £450m a year in rent. But the Government robs us of nearly £100m every year as well as the £1.5bn a year they take from tenants in England.
Then they have the cheek to offer this money back to us for the investment we need, but only if we accept the privatisation of our homes.
This is blackmail!
We demand the Government give councils a level playing field, so that all our rent money can be used to provide decent, secure, affordable and accountable council housing.
SIR - So Rhodri Morgan wants my grandchildren to grow up in Wales as part of the middle-class society.
I hope he will not be too disappointed if I pass on to them the advice given to me in 1952 when I was about to leave Gowerton Grammar school to study at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth: "Remember Colin, we are all working class in Wales, it all depends which generation."
I consider myself fortunate to have been brought up in a working-class environment and attended the only university in the UK which had been part-funded by working-class people.
The values I shared with working-class people have stood me in good stead throughout my life.
This experience of seeing at close quarters how the English class system operates was a strong incentive for my wife and I to ensure that our three children should be brought up in West Wales where class consciousness was virtually non-existent. From 1968 until two years ago we were privileged to be part of that classless society.
Perhaps the First Minister could ponder the words of the late Lord Heycock of Taibach (a railway worker by profession but a visionary in terms of education) when addressing a conference which I attended in 1970. He said what we need in Wales is a working-class community with middle-class values.
That, Mr Morgan, is what I want from the Wales I live in.
SIR - I heard the FA Cup final would again be played at our national ground in Cardiff in May.
The two clubs reaching the FA Cup final in this country certainly will not be playing at this ground. I am Welsh and FA to me means the Football Association of Wales.
Nothing shows a greater lack of national consciousness than referring to the body governing England's football as the FA - many other countries have football associations, like North Korea and Saudi Arabia. I wonder what FA means to them.
Maes y Nant,