Letters: France must face up to its failure to stop migrants crossing the Channel

Letters to the Editor
·9-min read
Seized boats in a compound in Dover - gareth fuller/pa
Seized boats in a compound in Dover - gareth fuller/pa

SIR – It is all very well for Emmanuel Macron to lecture Lebanon’s leaders on how to run their country. He ought first to make sure that his own house is in order.

The French government’s failure to stop illegal migrants making the Channel crossing from Calais to Britain is scandalous, and it is high time President Macron’s ministers got a grip on things.

A Gallic shrug is simply not on; what we need to see is action to stop these crossings once and for all.

Martin Nuttall


SIR – Paying the French to stop migrants crossing the Channel would be a complete waste of money.

They clearly have no interest in preventing the boats from leaving their shores for Britain.

Sandy Pratt
Storrington, West Sussex


SIR – In the grand scheme of things, the £30 million demanded by France is not excessive.

Consider the costs of looking after migrants, investigating claims, possibly returning them to France and patrolling the Channel.

As the number of people making the crossing rises, it won’t be long before France’s offer starts to look like a good deal.

Christopher Lambert
Tadworth, Surrey


SIR – What we need is an agreement with the French that, whenever illegal migrants are picked up by one of our boats in the Channel, they will be automatically returned to France.

Right now, people are entering our waters, with the prize is that they will be treated as asylum seekers, even though the law says that they should have claimed asylum in the first safe country they came to.

Unless things change, this process will continue and sooner or later there will be another tragedy. As long as the people smugglers succeed in getting people into Britain, the boat crossings will not stop.

Diane Alder
Godalming, Surrey


SIR – The Government must explain what the purpose of the Border Force is, if not to fulfil its role as a “law-enforcement command… responsible for front-line border control”.

If we cannot return illegal migrants once they have crossed our borders, do taxpayers really want to fund a force that is effectively just doing the job of the RNLI?

David Taylor
Everton, Hampshire


SIR – Many of those seeking sanctuary in Britain have endured terrible persecution in their homelands.

It is to be hoped that, when they arrive, they will be treated with compassion and consideration. We who are already here have only the shallow claim that we got here first.

Michael Armitage
Cromer, Norfolk


Free the young

SIR – You report that young people in Preston have been urged to follow Covid-19 regulations in order not to “kill granny”.

The young have already put numerous aspects of their lives on hold to keep granny alive. Speaking as a potential granny myself, I would much rather they had the chance to get back to normal.

If universities and colleges were allowed to get on with the great germ melting pot of freshers’ week in September and October, and granny took special care to socially distance or even shield for a few weeks, a satisfactory level of herd immunity could be achieved. Older members of staff could be similarly vigilant.

It is no longer acceptable to require large swathes of the population to limit their lives on so many levels with no apparent end in sight.

Julia Sharpe
Salisbury, Wiltshire


SIR – When is all this nannying and fretting going to stop?

I cannot take my son swimming because we must use a lane each. He is a poor swimmer and has Asperger syndrome, and needs me with him.

I do not wish to buy clothes if I cannot try them on in the shop. I do not wish to go to the cinema and have to sit in a mask for two hours. Would I be allowed to take the mask off to eat my popcorn?

I am healthy. I do not need someone else to keep me safe from a virus that I almost certainly won’t catch – and, even if I did, would only give me mild symptoms

Life is full of risk. I drive a car and climb the stairs and use knives. There are bacteria and viruses all around us, and there always will be. I want to live my life freely – not spend it being “protected” against my will.

Karen Gwynn
Bromsgrove, Worcestershire


Inside the Titanic

SIR – Recent letters (August 7) have discussed the plans to salvage the Titanic’s Marconi radio set.

There is no need to salvage it. In Chelmsford Museum we have a replica of the wireless room. Chelmsford is the home of Marconi, and the work of the volunteers who produced this replica in time for the 100th anniversary of the first wireless broadcast is greatly appreciated. It is part of the collection of Marconi artefacts on display.

Leave the wreck in peace – and, as soon as the museum is allowed to reopen, come and celebrate the genius of Marconi.

Cllr Roy Whitehead
Ramsden Heath, Essex


The best Holmes

SIR – Philip Porter (Letters, August 8) is right. Although I did enjoy Jeremy Brett’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, Douglas Wilmer captured the character best.

However, there were much better Watsons than Nigel Stock, who made him bumbling rather than doughty, which Holmes would have abhorred.

Estelle Townsend-Smith
Narberth, Pembrokeshire


SIR – I never saw my favourite Sherlock Holmes, since he performed on the BBC Home Service.

The actor was Carleton Hobbs, whose voice combined a suave intellect with a gentle acidity, to me unequalled by any other Holmes. I can picture the detective even now, though I have no idea what Hobbs looked like.

Anthony Weale
Frome, Somerset


Getting to school

SIR – Much has been said about children returning to school in September, but there has been no discussion of how they will get there.

I don’t know how many pupils use buses, but I expect the number is high. Last September it cost £600, paid up front, for my two grandchildren in the South East to use the bus. They have now missed more than a third of the school year, but the local council is only reimbursing £50 per child – nowhere near a third. Families where parents have been furloughed or made redundant cannot absorb this.

There is also the matter of safety. Some bus companies are not putting on extra buses – which is worrying, given that on some routes there is standing room only. One of these companies, I hear, is only going to allow half as many children on its buses. How will that work? Once it is full, will it simply drive past children waiting at bus stops?

Children are to be schooled in bubbles, but I don’t think this is feasible with buses. Some schools have large catchment areas. Working parents do not have the capacity to take their children to school and in any case, not all families have cars.

How are these problems going to be solved? We have three weeks.

Glen Peddar
Stone, Staffordshire


Who’d be a priest?

SIR – As a former churchwarden, I wholeheartedly agree with Michael Gillingham (Letters, August 7) about the church hierarchy and its cavalier attitude towards extracting large amounts of money from hard-pressed country churches.

He should count his blessings, however, that his church only has to share a priest with two others. In the village where we lived, the rector was expected to serve no fewer than nine. Small wonder that people aren’t exactly queuing up for the job.

Jasper Archer
Wilton, Wiltshire


Rabbit rules

SIR – As a retired chef now cooking for sheer pleasure, I have to take issue with Gill Meller’s recipe (Saturday, August 8) for Welsh rabbit.

Haddock has no place in this dish, whose key ingredients are cheese, beer and béchamel. What Mr Meller describes is a version of Canapés Ivanhoe.

David Brooks


Don’t plant trees if they won’t be kept in trim

 pruned plane trees outside Tate Britain in London - alamy
pruned plane trees outside Tate Britain in London - alamy

SIR – My old comrade on the North Herefordshire Conservative Management Committee, Robert Jenrick, wants more tree-lined streets.

However, trees require careful and knowledgeable maintenance. Here in Herefordshire, the county council has no spare money. I live on a 20-year-old development, which has superb green spaces – but the hedges are overgrown and the trees are out of control.

We get the lawns mown once a month in the summer. That’s all. When the council’s contractors do arrive, they are very nice but, by their own admission, untrained. They will hack away at a tree that has been the subject of a complaint, often doing more harm than good.

The only reason we can still access our green spaces is because some residents have taken it into their own hands to trim, chop and cart stuff to recycling centres. Yet this has proved divisive, as one resident tries to impose their own vision of gardening, regardless of what anyone else might want.

Mr Jenrick’s idea is brilliant – but totally flawed.

Mary Baxter
Former chairman, Ledbury and Old Gore Conservatives
Ledbury, Herefordshire


Patients left in pain as hospitals fixate on Covid

SIR – I feel so fortunate that I was able to have my shoulder replacement before lockdown – unlike Jennifer Dean (Letters, August 8), who has had her operation cancelled, with no future date in sight.

Before my operation I was in such pain, unable to do everyday things like brushing my hair and putting my shoes on, and living on painkillers. Now I am pain-free, playing golf three times a week and not taking up NHS time with visits to my GP. I have had a new lease of life.

I hope that patients who have had their operations postponed or cancelled will be treated soon.

Patricia Essex
Hedge End, Hampshire


SIR – A good friend whose hip operation was rescheduled has been left unable to walk and wracked with pain. Meanwhile, I have visited my hairdresser, had three fillings done by my dentist and seen my chiropodist. I also have an eye test scheduled for next week.

Why can’t all the consultants and surgeons get back to work?

Jennifer Graeme
Shaldon, Devon


SIR – There is no sign of the NHS being on pause in Winchester.

I had a biopsy early in the year and a small operation scheduled for early May. This was put on hold, but took place a week ago, only 12 weeks later. I was, however, told they were doing the urgent cases first – which makes me wonder if I should be worried.

Geraldine Guthrie
Winchester, Hampshire


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