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Letters to the editor: February 23, 2021

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Columns are thoughtful, eloquent and informative

The grasp of history in Nigel Duce’s letter (Free Press, February 2) might kindly be
described as limited.

He says that history is not ‘static’, whereas, of course, that’s exactly what it is – because what happened in the past, happened; historical events are not a fiction, they are, by definition, fixed facts.

With equal kindness to Mr Duce, I assume that rather than deliberately misrepresenting the Hayes in the House columns, he either hasn’t read them or perhaps hasn’t understood them.

As an admirer of Sir John’s erudition, let me tell Mr Duce that, to my knowledge, Sir John Hayes has written well-informed, and often beautifully expressed, articles on: Holocaust Memorial Day, funeral drectors, COVID-19, military spending, national security, pancreatic cancer, Horatio Nelson, housing and planning, the horticulture levy, communal living, domestic abuse, VE day, disability and the NHS, amongst others, in the last year alone!

You can disagree with those on the right of politics, as Mr Duce – who, to be fair, admits he is on the left, is likely to do, but few could argue that Sir John is anything other than – in writing and in his speeches in the House of Commons – thoughtful, eloquent and informative.

Thank you, Sir John

Andrew Livsey

via email

John Elson's Lincolnshire Free Press cartoon. (44520018)
John Elson's Lincolnshire Free Press cartoon. (44520018)

Funeral directors are on the frontline

Thank you for carrying the recent article by Sir John Hayes MP on the work of funeral directors during the pandemic.

Sir John’s comments are very welcome and provided a real morale boost to our team during this incredibly challenging time.

Make no mistake, funeral directors are on the frontline of this crisis, providing support and comfort to bereaved families who are saying goodbye to loved ones amidst the toughest of restrictions.

On top of this, our staff put themselves at great risk on a daily basis visiting places of potential infection, such as care homes, hospitals, and domestic addresses, to transport people who have died into our care.

Despite these dangers and restrictions, we are committed to ensuring people are able to arrange a meaningful funeral.

Another area of our work involves facilitating viewings in our chapel of rest, to allow people to spend precious time with a friend or relative before their final journey.

COVID-19 aside, our approach has been to ensure families are able to have these important moments – as we only get one chance to get a funeral right and create a positive memory for years to come.

Funeral directors are arguably the final emergency service in the frontline of coronavirus. But at times we feel overlooked.

As Sir John pointed out, our work is done in a quiet and dignified way which is perhaps the reason why we often go unnoticed by the powers that be.

For members of our profession, the pandemic has brought this injustice into sharp relief.

For example, many funeral directors across England initially struggled to get vaccinated due to inconsistencies in the way the vaccine programme was rolled out.

We’ve also faced the risk of being fined if mourner numbers at a funeral service exceed the legal limit under coronavirus restrictions. Yet funeral service venue managers somehow seem exempt.

It should be noted that whilst we go out of our way to ensure families understand the rules, it is not always possible to prevent people from turning up at a funeral unannounced.

We want to work proactively with our partners in the police and local authorities to ensure funerals can continue to take place safely and that the bereaved are treated with the care and respect they deserve.

Thankfully, Sir John has made an important contribution to an evolving national conversation about the role of funeral directors.

And whilst many aspects of life are unlikely to return to the way they were before coronavirus blighted our lives, let’s hope as we emerge from this dreadful period there will be a greater understanding of the work of funeral directors – and the positive impact we have on people at life’s most difficult time.

Mark Forth

via email

Mark Oldrieve's phot of his dog Willow, running happily in Spalding.
Mark Oldrieve's phot of his dog Willow, running happily in Spalding.

Coffin makers deserve huge credit too

I would like to add some comments to those made by Sir John Hayes MP in his column published on January 25, paying tribute to funeral workers.

Where Sir John rightly praises the work of those frontline funeral workers, there is another group who are the first in the funeral supply chain.

These are coffin manufacturers.

Since March last year, there has been a huge effort by coffin manufacturers, and others in the supply chain, to produce sufficient coffins, fittings and soft goods to meet the demand presented by funeral directors who must satisfy their clients’ wishes.

Manufacturers have had to change their working practices, some choosing to move to 24 hour production, buy and/or hire additional vehicles and employing additional staff to successfully cope with the additional funerals brought about by the pandemic.

This work is unseen by the public but, of course, the coffin is the focal point of a funeral.

Let us not overlook their contribution at this time.

I thank Sir John Hayes for his leadership of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Funerals and Bereavement and hope it will continue to be the voice of our critical sector within parliament and to Government ministers.

Alun Tucker

Chief Executive, Funeral Furnishing Manufacturer’s Association

Accept that you won and the war is over

Craig Jackson is not alone in lavishing praise on Boris Johnson and on Sir John Hayes’ contribution in securing Britain’s escape from the European Union with a Quota and Tariff Free Trade Deal

Mr Jackson sees his vision for Britain’s future through the prism of his cognitative bias seemingly oblivious that he has one. His diatribe directed at Ms Maxey clearly demonstrates that for him truth lies in his cognitative bias.

The EU 27 retain their collective agreements.the common rules and standards that regulate the quality of the goods and services sold in their single market, endorsed by the World Trade Organisation.

The UK can freely trade with the EU provided that our goods and tradeable services standards remain compliant with those of the EU 27.

The EU robustly rejects the concept of equivalence , acheiving an agreed outcome using alternative routes.

The world is moving towards agreements coalesing around three sets of product standards based on those of the USA, China and the EU.

Batch production,tweaking your product standards to match those of a potential trading partner disrupts and delays production schedules,incuring additional warehousing costs which push up prices , reducing price competitiveness,stimulating import substitution, eroding profit margins,dividend yields and/or future investment capital

The Bild inewspaper Mr Jackson quotes is a right leaning media outlet that favours Germany leaving the EU. It does not represnt the views of the German media or citizens.

Germany was not buying up and hoarding millions of doses of SARS vaccine. Ms Merkel suggested that rather than a divisive scramble for vaccines the governments should co-ordinate to avoid an unseemly scramble divisive scramble for the limited supply of vaccines

The British government had offerred millions up front to encourage and support reseach development and production facilities on contracts that giving Britain priority in supply if the product proved effective. The gamble paid off.

Mr Jackson claims there has been no Brexit related congestion at the ferry ports. The new digitalised Customs Declaration Service commissioned in 2017 designed to handle more than 260m customs declarations, up from 55m in 2020, was only operational from January 1, untested and many operators untrained, with many businesses unaware of the change over from the old system.

The HMRC software dealing with tariff and VAT liabilities will not be installed until 2022, leaving all tariff and VAT liabilities to be done manually.

These are not just teething problems.Small fishing businesses collectively hire a haulage contractor to deliver their fish to a continental distributer must now each provide separate DCS documentation

and expect physical examination. Regarding the motor trade, Nissan retains the competitive adantages it already had but is to build a battery plant to ensure each car can retain its British Certificate of Origin after 2026.

The Erasmus student exchange scheme is funded by the EU Commission. Out of interest who is funding the global Turing scheme?

Craig Jackson should accept that the Brexit War is over – his side won. He should show some magnnaminity towards those who want to try to renew the social cohesion that made our country great.

A good start would be to tell the truth and challenge his cognative bias and stop denegrating those who don’t see the world through his bias. Through compromise ,forgiveness and some humilty we can build some sort of future for our country.

Paul Walls


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