Letters: Readers share their thoughts on the Ipswich buisness zone, alcohol limits and fire cuts in Suffolk

How much is too much?

How much is too much? - Credit: PA

Ipswich Star readers are keen to share their views on the hot topics of the week through out letters page.

Here we bring you a round up of the best letters of the week.

Tony Green, of Ipswich, wrote to say:

As ever, when pontificating about drinking (No safe level for drinking alcohol – Star, January 8), the government has ignored the fact that not all alcoholic drinks are equal when it comes to their effects on our health.

What the science shows is that “what” you drink matters every bit as much as “how much” you drink. For example, a 2011 paper in the European Journal of Epidemiology showed that if you graph beer and wine drinkers’ mortality from cardiovascular disease, it dips quickly as their consumption increases, until reaching its minimum when drinking about 18 units of wine (31% lower risk) or 37 units of beer (42% lower risk) per week. And as consumption increases, the graph only rises slowly so that drinkers are shown to benefit even when drinking significantly more than those amounts, when compared to teetotallers.


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Spirits drinkers, on the other hand, get no protection against cardiovascular disease however much they drink. In addition it’s well documented that mouth and oesophagus cancers are overwhelmingly associated with drinking spirits, and cirrhosis of the liver is also far more likely for spirits drinkers (with brandy having been shown to be especially dangerous).

And of course, if you’re drinking beer or wine, the sheer volume makes it far harder than with spirits to drink enough to cause acute alcohol poisoning and end up taking a trip to casualty.

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No sensible person would try to deny that too much alcohol is dangerous, but what constitutes “too much” depends on what you’re drinking. Rather than producing “one size fits all” advice and ignoring the different effects, the government should at least take account of what the science tells us about different types of drink. And if they’re serious about the “real” risks of alcohol, perhaps they should reverse the huge relative drop in the duty on spirits that Gordon Brown oversaw as chancellor to benefit the Scotch whisky industry. This took spirits from being a relatively expensive treat to a cheap way to get very drunk very quickly. Meanwhile, I’ll be enjoying a few pints of delicious real ale with my friends, happy in the knowledge that not only is it making my life more enjoyable, but it isn’t doing me anything like as much harm as the Nanny State would like me to think.

John Harvey, of Nacton, said:

Having attended Endeavour House last week in order to hear the case for cuts in Ipswich fire cover I left with the following conclusions:

1. Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service respond to an average of 5,000 calls a year with a compliment of 47 appliances.

2. Ipswich respond to 2,000 of these with five crews, that’s 40%.

3. Princes Street answers 1,485 of these (most recent figures), that’s 30% of all Suffolk’s calls with just two full-time crews and one on call, and that could doube easily if plans to answer medical emergencies come to fruition.

4. The plan is to cut Princes Street to one full time crew. Ipswich East will have one full time and one on call, and I add that one on call firefighter said the quickest the Ipswich East on call crew can respond to station is 10 minutes, they then have to get to the incident.

5. The plan apparently is to use outlying on call stations to cover Ipswich, despite many of them being unable to get a crew during the day.

It was then explained full time personnel could be sent out to reinforce on call crews so they have a better chance of getting a crew so they can back up the shortage in Ipswich where most of the responses take place. There is a fundamental flaw in this plan, can the readers spot it?

In the past Ipswich, under Government standards of fire cover, had to have one appliance to the town centre and docks within four minutes and two more within eight and 11 minutes. This was abolished leaving Suffolk to set their own standrd of 11 minutes, but currently this is only met 64% of the time.

I sympathise with Mark Hardingham, who has a mission impossible regarding financial targets, andwith Matthew Hicks, he needs to speak to the people in the plain yellow helmets with the soot grimed faces. The fire service nationally is under its worst attack since 1940 and it has ended badly elsewhere, and it will in Suffolk. I urge the public to write to Suffolk County Council and object in the strongest terms, then perhaps common sense will prevail.

Mark Ling. of Greater Ipswich Org, Ipswich said:

We have been working to enlighten business leaders in our £8billion Ipswich centred economic zone, about devolution. We have attempted to raise awareness through e-newsletters; targeting 150 top business and community leaders. We have had responses from around 50, and the honest feedback suggests that many have no real clue about devolution, what it means, what is happening, or how it will impact. I think that the public are equally in the dark.

The alarming fact is that Greater Ipswich economic zone has no direct equivalent business grouping, or answer, to “Cambridge Ahead” or “Shaping Norfolk’s Future” (which is Norwich centric). We do not enjoy the same level of representation as Norwich on the New Anglia LEP. We have no single vision, voice, direction, or single set of objectives or priorities for Suffolk’s biggest economic zone.

One business leader said that they “had never seen a list of priorities drawn up for Ipswich & SE Suffolk”; another “it was unclear whether the Norfolk dominated LEP or just individual MPs were pushing their own agendas”. Another said that Greater Ipswich “never seems to be prepared or ready with a list of top schemes when central government money is available”.

Almost all have no understanding as to who is politically responsible for what, based on the current two tier local government structure. When in 1974, Ipswich entered Suffolk County Council in a three way stake-holding, we had had absolute control over the higher aspects of county governance for the town (including strategic direction, highways, infrastructure planning, economic development and tourism).

Today, we endure large spells when Suffolk’s greatest town and regional centre has no say or direct representation at all on the county cabinet.

Ipswich has languished under this arrangement, and an enlarged devolved region without a balance of political and infrastructure power will only magnify the existing inefficiencies and problems.

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