Local streams all flow into the river of history

Kisrsty Williams is correct in pointing out the value of local “histories” when the youngest children are being introduced to the subject.

However, this is only of long-term value if it leads those children into an understanding of the history of the wider community, and this can be a major problem if the necessary resources are not available, recommended and accessed.

Clearly things have altered since I first began my school career in 1942.

The kind of cross-curricular links being recommended for the new curriculum today were automatic then, and history teachers had no difficulty in using local examples to illustrate the national flow of events.

If I had only attended one school, then I could assume that I had been fortunate in that one, but I went to four secondary schools, in London, Coventry, Birmingham and Llanrwst, some large, some small. One of them later produced David Beckham and Harry Kane, so their breadth of scope is not in dispute.

That apart, as someone who has had a lifelong interest in local history, as a researcher and promoter, I can only hope that adequate connections are built up between the schools and local societies and institutions.

The current pressures on teachers – not to mention the demands of Health and Safety – leave them little or no time to search out and contact these very valuable resources unless such contact is built into the curriculum.

In the end history, Welsh, British, European or beyond, is what ties the “histories” together and makes the lead-miner’s son from Mold kin to the coal-miner’s son from the Rhondda, to the stonemason’s daughter from Hackney and the farmer’s child from the East Anglian Fens.

Diversity should mean sharing, not separation.

SR Jones

Port Talbot

Credit where it’s due to Transport for Wales

On January 21 you published a letter of mine complaining about the telephone service provided by Cardiff Central’s train inquiries office.

That same morning I presented myself at the tickets desk and could not have had a more polite and helpful experience from the young man who took my application for the tickets. Even without my asking, he drew my attention to a more convenient train back from Fishguard Harbour to Cardiff Central that did not entail any changes and the journey went without a hitch.

As for the quality of and reliability of the trains, the downward journey as far as Swansea High Street Station was a sparsely filled modern GWR express.

From Swansea to Fishguard and back to Cardiff the following day the trains were much cleaner and more comfortable than those I had experienced last year.

Let’s hope that Transport for Wales has turned the corner once you step on the train and that it might make its telephonic communication system much better for people like me than the one which prompted the foregoing letter of January 21.

Derek Griffiths

Llandaff

Early tests for bowel cancer can save lives

Latest research and figures show that only 55.7% of men and women in Wales take up the offer of screening when invited, and early testing is essential.

I am pleased the Assembly has committed to expand the programme to include men and women aged 50-59 by 2023, as bowel cancer increases sharply from the ago of 50,

A number of people have spoken to me concerning this matter, and I am happy to talk to anyone on a confidential basis in regard to symptoms, having recently had surgery to remove a tumour on the bowel, and the process involved.

Kevin Etheridge

Blackwood

Wales’ railways are in a downward spiral

In October 2018, the Wales and Borders rail franchise passed to Transport for Wales (run by Keolis/Amey).

Despite their bold promises, nothing has changed in the successive 15 months. In fact, things have gotten worse.

Just this month, TfW was fined £2.3m by the Welsh Government for poor performance and there seems to be no sign of improvements. Wales’ railways are in a downward spiral and TfW continues to jump from scandal to scandal.

Last year, staff shortages meant that a large number of train services were cancelled around the festive period, leaving families stranded.

They should not be running the trains with a skeleton crew. A railway network needs a full complement of staff on hand to help and I am baffled as to why there was a staff shortage in the first place.

Upon taking over the franchise, TfW should have begun a major recruitment drive. It would have stimulated growth in the national economy and some of the roles would have connected nicely with the Welsh Government apprenticeship scheme.

The dreaded rail-replacement bus services have become commonplace and the introduction of new trains has been repeatedly delayed.

Due to the Disability Discrimination Act, all of the “pacer” train-sets were supposed to have been withdrawn by December 2019. In 2020, they are still running after the Department for Transport granted a temporary extension to their service life.

This is unfair, as all public transport should have been made accessible by the new decade. People with disabilities rely on train services and marginalising their needs is an absolute disgrace. Besides the infamous pacers, TfW’s other trains are in dire need of a refit.

Because most of them are going to be withdrawn and replaced in three years, TfW seems reluctant to improve the condition of the fleet.

Most of the units are still in the former Arriva Trains Wales livery and are becoming increasingly filthy.

Although these trains may only have a few years left, a small refurbishment should have been undertaken. This kind of gesture might have alleviated concerns among passengers and allowed TfW to cover for future delays as their current stock would have been recently overhauled.

To conclude, TfW needs to take responsibility and improve the level of service. There has also been criticism aimed at the company’s disregard for the Welsh language, which concerns me greatly. Despite its name, Transport for Wales does not feel like a Welsh company. It feels soulless, corporate and insensitive. It is very much detached from the people it serves and passengers are beginning to notice.

If all goes according to plan, Keolis/Amey will be in charge of the franchise until 2033.

We cannot continue like this and I hope Transport for Wales realises that change is desperately needed.

Michael Harvey

Mumbles, Swansea

Memories of growing up in Cardiff’s docks

I was interested in your article on the historic Windsor Esplanade in Cardifff, as I often visited my uncle’s house there in the 1930s.

We used to catch a tram from Roath Park to Pier Head for one penny, then played around on the sea wall with my cousin and friends.

My aunt’s father was a well-respected channel pilot, Lewis Dawkin-Jones, and a book written by my aunt, Winn Anderson, gives a graphic account of living there in her book “A Rather Special Place: Growing up in Cardiff Docklands”, copies of which are still available.

Mrs D Wilks

Llanishen, Carifff

Council helps spark a transport revolution

I’m delighted that electric vehicle charging points will be installed at 11 car parks across Caerphilly County and will be available for use by April, 2020.

This initiative, following funding from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), will undoubtedly help persuade more motorists to ditch their petrol or diesel vehicles for a more environmentally form of power.

If the change to electric-powered vehicles is to gain real momentum, then it is crucial it is made easy for people to charge their vehicles

It is to their credit that Caerphilly Town Council was fully behind this Caerphilly County scheme and provided £5,000 of match-funding from its Community Infrastructure Levy.

Colin Mann

Leader, Plaid Cymru Group, Caerphilly County Borough Council

A vote for hatred?

How can the Labour Party even consider Rebecca Long-Bailey as future Prime Minister of this country, when she has already stated that she hates over a third of the electorate (everyone who voted Tory)!

Brian Christley

Abergele