There's so much work to be done, but it won't come cheap

Can I congratulate the Lib Dems on the questionnaire currently being collected in the Hampstead and Kilburn area? I was impressed by how simple everything will be when they are elected (perhaps if is the right word?). All that was missing was a question

Can I congratulate the Lib Dems on the questionnaire currently being collected in the Hampstead and Kilburn area? I was impressed by how simple everything will be when they are elected (perhaps 'if' is the right word?). All that was missing was a question along the lines of ''would you like to be rich and live forever''.

The sad thing is that I share many of their concerns, but they cannot just offer bland and, ultimately, meaningless solutions; they have to face the realities of our complex world. Few of the issues they raise have simple answers.

For example, I don't support the closures of post offices, police stations, or even the Gaumont State cinema in Kilburn; but that is not the right question. It should ask: will you pay more taxes or higher prices to keep these facilities open?

Likewise, I don't like the dominance of supermarkets over small traders, but I do like good quality food, at a price I can afford, brought to me by organisations which try hard to meet the needs of their suppliers as well as their customers.


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We cannot wind the clock back 100 years, when most shops were individually-owned and supplied by Old MacDonald's Farm. In any case, people were not better fed in those times, were they? And even if we could go back we would see a massive increase in the cost of food, as well as the disappearance of much of what makes our world better (such as fruit, veg and meat we can all afford!). Just compare farmers' market prices with local supermarkets to see the difference.

The questionnaire is especially weak when asking about the cost of living. Yes we have all been faced with increased costs but pollution taxes and local income tax will not do a thing to reduce t hese costs. In fact the extra levels of local bureaucracy for income tax collection are likely to increase the cost of raising taxes, and shifting tax from consumption (VAT for example) to pollution won't reduce taxes either.

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The biggest question of all, though, is on climate change. I am sure we are all against it, but I fear no government will be elected that puts forward hard measures on energy use. And, to take the one part of this issue the Lib Dems highlight - nuclear energy - I doubt if anyone could come up with a consensus on this so, again, someone will have to make this tough decision along with all the others needed to give us a secure, affordable supply of energy.

Let's not be too hard on this attempt to make us more aware of what needs to be done, by us as individuals and by government on our behalf. But, please, face facts, the choices outlined all come with a cost attached, nothing is free.

As I said, I share many of the aspirations outlined in this questionnaire, but if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Perhaps that's the answer to the transport question at least: more horses; but that won't mean less manure!

David Reed

Eton Avenue, NW3

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