orderForm.noItems Facts, not opinion please

I HAVE only just read theAugust edition of Downs Mail, and Iwanted to thank you for mentioning the blatant bias of the BBC (Mail Marks). Since before Brexit, they appeared to be allowing their journalists and reporters to provide their own opinion rather than the facts, and this then seemed to stretch into what I considered to be almost brain washing. As far as Brexit is concerned, they are not

able to report a full bulletin, however positive it may be, without a negative to finish. Between the BBC and Mark Carney (Bank of England) they have demoralised the country entirely and appear desperate to talk us into a downward spiral, when they should perhaps be lifting us up. But most of all, they should stick to reporting the facts. I no longer have any faith in their reporting and have also turned to ITV in the hope of finding an unbiased report. I thought Iwas the only one who had noticed it! It's always good to read something that fits with our own view, especially when it's so RIGHT, so Iwanted to thank you for puing my concerns so clearly and succinctly into words. KimWest, Bearsted

Balance usually achieved

YOUR regular columnist Dennis Fowle makes a now-familiar charge of bias in the news reporting of the BBC. Yet the former chief political correspondent and current Radio 4 Today programme presenter, Nick Robinson,was once chairman of the Young Conservatives. Similarly, when hewas presenter of Newsnight, Jeremy Paxman admied that he considered himself to be a One Nation Conservative while his successor Evan Davis wrote neo-liberal papers advocating the privatisation of the NHS when hewas at Oxford University. Aren’t these strange appointments for a supposedly Marxist-inclined broadcaster? In their detailed and exhaustive analyses

of BBC news bulletins, the Glasgow University Media Research Group showed that, if anything, there is a pro- Establishment bias in BBC output. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere

between these two viewpoints and that the BBC usually aims at, and mostly achieves, some sort of impartiality. K Banks, Maidstone

Forced marriage fears

FOR most children, the summer holidays mean fun and time with their family. But for some young people, the long break

is when they are most at risk of being taken abroad and forced into a marriage. In 2016/17, Childline provided 205 counselling sessions to girls as young as 13 about forced marriage–a12per cent increase from 2015/16. The same year, there were 6,099 visits to the Childline forced marriage page. Children told counsellors theywere frightened of being taken out of the country for marriage and reported emotional abuse by their parents, because they believe resisting the marriage would bring shame and dishonour on their family. In some instances, children may have been

told that they are going on holiday and do not realise that they are heading to their wedding day with a complete stranger. Once they are abroad they may find themselves isolated and find it difficult to raise the alarm and halt the marriage. No child should be forced into marriage

andwe must be clear that, regardless of cultural expectations, this is a crime and an abuse of human rights. The secretive nature of forced marriage combined with feelings of loyalty to family and community can mean it is difficult to grasp the true scale of the problem. To help us break the cycle the NSPCC is

urging anyone – including potential victims – to speak up, so thatwe can step in and stop a child being bound into something that they would never ask for. Adults can call the NSPCC helpline, 0808

800 5000. Children can call Childline on 0800 1111 so they can be given support and measures can be taken to stop them from being forced into marriage. Colin Peak, NSPCC, regional head of service, London and South East

Cable work shoddy

THEAugust edition of the Downs Mail contained a report in the Thurnham Parish News section in relation to work instructed by Virgin Media. The report is timely, as it exactly echoes

our experience in Grove Green – disruption; surface finish to the trench deteriorating; surface finish not being level with adjoining pavement. Additionally, heavy equipment used by the contractors broke the road surface in one street, with the hole created

expanding alarmingly. I wrote twice to KCC Highways to point

out such shortcomings, without the courtesy of a reply. I then contacted Cllr Paul Carter, who did respond, and assured me that not only do the works have a two-year guarantee but, in addition, KCC personnelwere inspecting the works. Iwalk through Grove Green every day

and have to say I have never seen anyone reviewing or monitoring these works. To be even-handed they could, of course,

have undertaken this work at night. I hope the outcome from viewing the KCC monitoring logs can be shared with your readers. GraemeWyles, Grove Green

Slaughterhouse reforms

THE Green Party has been calling for mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses for decades and the UK's membership of the EU has never prevented the introduction of the measure – France introduced it earlier this year. So while the Government's announcement

iswelcome, the pitching of the policy as a “post-Brexit reform” is cynical and opportunistic nonsense. As for the policy itself, the devil is in the

detail andwe've yet to see any. To help prevent the cruellest treatment of

UKfarm animals the Government needs, as a minimum, to ensure cameras are placed in any area of a slaughterhouse where animals are handled, held and killed. The footage must also be held for a reasonable length of time and made available for independent viewing and monitoring. At the same time, urgent steps are needed

to improve and monitor on farm animal welfare standards too. At the very least, the Government must urgently ensure existing EU safeguards are strengthened and maintained. The House of Lords EU commiee

warned only last month that leaving the European Union and rushing to sign Britain up to post-Brexit “free trade at all cost” deals will pose the biggest threat to farm animal welfare in the UK. Ultimately, it's also worth remembering

that no amount of legislation or regulation can ever make the slaughter business truly cruelty-free. Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for the South East

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