First published in The Felixstowe Flyer, March 2021.

The Grenfell fire tragedy
It has taken 3½ years for there to be any government action on the flammable cladding that led to 72 deaths in the Grenfell fire tragedy. Even now the government is not intending to help buildings below 18m. A public enquiry found evidence that some contractors knowingly installed substandard cladding on high- and medium-rise blocks of flats. Labour leader Keir Starmer spoke of the “enormous” mental health burden placed on thousands of people living in homes made unsafe by flammable cladding. People are facing crippling bills to make their homes safe.

Vaccinate teachers
Keir Starmer had proposed that teachers should be vaccinated over half term, however Prime Minister Boris Johnson rejected this! School classes include teachers and assistants. If any are Covid-positive then the whole class must quarantine for two weeks. In secondary schools, pupils meet with various teachers throughout the week. Many classes have been sent home and lost valuable lessons as well as meeting up with friends. Other countries have had the sense to vaccinate teachers so that children can be in school and class closures reduced.

Closed borders
The Scientific Advisers said on 21 January that only mandatory isolation in government-provided accommodation for all travellers arriving in the UK could come close to preventing the import of new strains. Delays allow the disease to spread. Mutations are dispersed along multiple paths. However, the new rules to quarantine for 10 days only apply to 30 countries designated as particularly high risk. Boris Johnson said it is “not practical” to completely shut Britain’s borders to protect against new coronavirus variants – delay allows the disease to spread. However, an estimated 10,000 travellers arriving in the UK from “higher-risk countries” every day will avoid hotel quarantine. Labour has called for the government to follow the Scientific Advisors. “This government system is not going to work”, Keir Starmer said. “We now know that there are variants in countries that aren’t on the red list. It makes sense not to bring in new kinds of virus, meaning new vaccines could be needed. It’s now a race between the vaccine and variants. The only way is to buy time with a comprehensive system of quarantine in hotels, wherever you come from. This partial approach by the Government isn’t going to work”.

Rising sea levels
Research has found that melting ice caps across the planet is accelerating at record rates. The melting of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica is accelerating the fastest. It has now reached the worse-case scenario as described by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A leading researcher has warned that this would have very serious consequences. “Sea level rise on this scale will have very serious impacts on coastal communities this century”. About two thirds of the ice loss was caused by the warming of the seas. About half of all the ice lost was from land, which contributed to global sea-level rises.

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