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Tribute to Paddy

The late, former Lib Dem Leader, Lord Paddy Ashdown was a frequent visitor to North Wiltshire. In fact, he was the guest speaker at our annual dinner held in Malmesbury Town Hall just a year ago.

We chatted when I had the pleasure of driving him to the event at Malmesbury and later back to Swindon railway station to catch a late train to London. He was catching an early morning flight the very next day.

Paddy inspired me and many others to join the Lib Dems. A Liberal to his core, he was a person of great integrity, courage and ‎compassion. A man who loved this country.

A former Royal Marine Officer and member of the elite Special Boat Section (SBS), who saw active service in the Far East and Northern Ireland, Paddy knew and understood the difference between true patriotism and narrow nationalism.

For Paddy, patriotism was about working for the common good. Where nationalism seeks to blame others.

This is why Paddy, like me, passionately supported Britain remaining a member of the European Union. We also shared a strong belief that there should be a People’s Vote to decide whether Mrs May’s current deal, or James Gray’s “no deal” is better than the deal we already have inside the EU‎.

Paddy will be greatly missed, but his legacy lives on in the Liberal Democrats he was so proud to lead.

My thoughts and prayers are with Paddy’s family, his widow Jane, their children and grandchildren. Our lives were all the better for being touched by this great man.

Dr Brian Mathew, Liberal Democrat Prospective MP for North Wiltshire

Keep pets safe

For humans, 31 December is a night of celebration and festive cheer, but to animals, the thunderous New Year’s Eve fireworks can make it seem as if the heavens are falling.

Every year, countless companion animals disappear after fireworks displays send them running in fear of their lives.

When startled, dogs can panic and try to flee. They may leap over fences, and some have even been known to jump through plate-glass windows in an attempt to get away from the terrifying sounds. Many cats, dogs, and other animals are taken to animal shelters with bloody paws and torn skin after running and breaking through wooden fences. Lucky animals are reunited with their families, but others are never found. To avoid such upset, make sure that you stay indoors with your animal companions. Close windows and curtains to help muffle the noise of the fireworks, and turn on a TV or radio to help drown out the sound. Make sure that your animals are wearing a collar or harness with an up-to-date identification tag – just in case.

Jennifer White, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), London

Movement essential

I am sure the environmental experts in Euclid Street have put on their thinking caps and will soon arrive at a compromise position with regard to the issue of air pollution on Kingshill Road (SA 24 Dec).

However, I hope they will not use the inappropriate hypothesis that reducing vehicular travel by 50% will result in a corresponding drop in pollution levels. If the science was that easy I suggest it would already have been auctioned.

The reality is that vehicle emission standards as laid down by the government required a ‘more than’ 50% reduction to be achieved.

As a result of the wholesale cheating by vehicle manufacturers, those limits have been more strictly enforced (with the result that manufacturers are having temporary difficulty supplying cars) and will result in cleaner engines and less pollution.

A spokesperson for SBC is reported as suggesting that “very large vehicles are not the problem as they don’t use Kingshill Road that much”.

Sadly this ignores the very sensible 80/20 rule which may well suggest that 80 per cent of the pollution is caused by the 20 per cent of ‘very large vehicles’ of which most are likely to have higher level polluting engines.

Perhaps it would be better for the planners to consider how to ensure traffic is ‘kept moving’ on Kingshill Road as it is known that car engines idling create more pollution than they do while moving.

Des Morgan, Caraway Drive, Swindon

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