As an ex-Swindon councillor, Mr Mallinson displays a pitiful lack of understanding the democratic functions of a Trade Union in the public sector, (Adver, November 4).

To describe the costs associated with releasing council staff to carry out their trade union duties as a ‘levy on public funds’ is plainly ridiculous.

Trade Union officers and representatives have an absolute legal right to time off with pay to carry out their roles. If Mr Mallinson is challenging that principle then he better be prepared to face the weight of the law and the anger of our members.

Our Unison officers and reps in the council carry out important functions which are ultimately of benefit to both Unison members and the council.

Thousands of council staff are represented individually and collectively by the union as they are legally entitled to.

If such activity didn’t take place then the costs to the council, in terms of dealing with consultations and negotiations on an individual basis, would far exceed the figure which Mr Mallinson quotes.

Managers in the council understand this, but Mr Mallinson seems to have missed this point.

Perhaps he should also quote the costs of supporting elected members of the council in terms of fees and expenses which are also paid by the taxpayers of Swindon. It’s all part of supporting the democracy of local government in this country.

Unison members in the council are the ones who deliver the services which the people of Swindon rely on. They are also at the forefront of trying to defend services in the face of the financial cuts imposed by the Government.

Yes, they are also exercising their democratic right to defend their pensions by taking action.

Mr Mallinson describes this as ridiculous. This says more about the mindset of Mr Mallinson than it does about working people making a stand, and by the way Mr Mallinson, it was the Government which set the timing by its refusal to negotiate properly during the summer months. CHRIS HOWE Regional Organiser Unison South West

Royal part-timer

In recent months I have incorrectly, and unjustifiably, been called both sexist and a racist. Now, by criticising a much admired member of the Royal Family, I shall no doubt be labelled as anti-royal. This certainly is far from the truth.

To me, the Queen and members of her family are amongst the few things which hold our country and great British Commonwealth of nations together.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, will sometime in the future, make a great king and to criticise this very popular royal leaves me open to abuse.

My beef however, is not about him as a person, but about his so called service in the Royal Air Force. Much money has been spent on his training as a search and rescue helicopter pilot and having spent almost 24 years in the RAF myself, I am well aware of the importance of this job.

It is however, and should be, a full time job but he seems to spend as much time on other duties as he does in RAF service. In my opinion, he should devote himself full time in his role as a pilot and serve a complete two year tour without interruption. When completed he could then return to full royal duties. The present situation is not good enough, as there are plenty of Royal Family members to fulfil public engagements.

I am a dedicated monarchist and I am proud to be so but in this instance, Flt Lt Wales, as he is known, should either serve full time in the service or resign and concentrate on his royal duties. He should certainly not be a part-time pilot as he seems to be at present.

R W Selway Burden Close Swindon

Stop sick trade

I’m writing to raise awareness to your readers about the great work Network for Animals do, particularly their hard work to fight the barbaric and cruel trade of dog meat in the Philippines.

Much-loved pets and stray dogs are snatched off the streets, muzzled with twine and then thrown into crammed cages. What happens to man’s best friend is horrific. The suffering these beautiful animals have to endure is absolutely disgusting. They are then killed and eaten in restaurants, particularly in the capital of the Philippines, Baguio.

The Filipino Government agree that it is wrong and sickening, but many restaurants still illegally participate in this ugly trade.

If you would like to help fight the illegal trade of the dog meat industry and keep up the pressure on the Government to convict traders, please visit and sign the petition.

Already with donations Network for Animals has prevented over 4,500 dogs from ending up on someone’s dinner plate. Please help them continue their work.

Laura Hobbs Stone Lane Lydiard Millicent Swindon

Malta calling

Calling the Maltese of the south west of England and south Wales. Are you interested in joining a new and exciting group for Maltese people living in the south west of England and south Wales? If so please consider joining the Maltese Heritage Group.

We will be holding events throughout the year and, at the moment, membership is free.

You can contact us by emailing malteseheritagegroup@ or by going through our web site at default.html. Or you can write to us at the address below. Maltese Heritage Group 50 Saint Matthews green Bridgwater Somerset TA6 3RP

Stamp approval

I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has sent me used postage stamps which enables me to raise money to donate to The Guide Dogs for the Blind.

I am always in need of all types of postage stamps, including foreign and Christmas.

And I would be grateful if you could pass this message on to your friends and contacts at home and abroad so that I can continue to raise funds to help support The Guide Dogs for the Blind in forthcoming years.

If you are able help I would be grateful if you could cut the stamps from their envelopes (leaving a 1cm margin around the stamp) and send them to the address below. Myrna Chave PO Box 91 Virginia Water Surrey GU25 9AR

Final return?

As we approach Remembrance Day and remember those brave men and women who gave their lives in two world wars and other more recent conflicts, we tend to think of those who died being laid to rest in a foreign field, but I wonder how many are actually buried in an area of France or Belgium from whence their ancestors originated?

Many names that are common today have their origins in what is now France or Belgium therefore instead of being laid to rest in a foreign land their final resting place may actually be closer to home.

Sheila Mitchell Westlea Swindon

Nice patterns

Could I please thank your lovely readers for all of the knitting patterns they kindly sent out to my daughter after my letter was printed in your paper. Thank you.

Mrs Jacqueline Fisher Pickhill Thirsk

Call it all off

BT have recently announced that they are doubling broadband speeds in the town.

They tell us that this has developed due to successful trials by them and the approval of the relevant authorities. Openreach, BT’s local network business, is investing “£2.5bn to make fibre broadband available to two thirds of UK premises by the end of 2014”.

Well, I’ve just had the so called superfast fibre broadband installed, and all l can say is if you are tempted to do the same, don’t bother!

There are no site visits to your home to see if your IT and situation of PC is appropriate. The Outreach engineer just turns up on the date specified, after making the required adjustment to the remote telecommunications junction box, proceeds to tell you that you can’t have the hub/router in the place you’ve always had it and that it MUST be put in a place that might not be suitable as a location.

Even if this obstacle is overcome, you will find that the superfast broadband speed you were expecting may well be faster, providing you can get the explorer page up without it constantly dropping out! And if it works at all, it will only be at intermittent times of the day.

Ringing the BT helpline (based in India) will get you talking to an adviser who will suggest you try all sorts of different combinations of tasks, but the problems will still exist.

Looking at the online BT website helpline (providing you can get on it!) there are a number of reviews from people all over the UK who have been experiencing the same problems.

So, if you are tempted to become one of BTs superfast internet surfers, perhaps you might like to think again!

John Beale Wigmore Avenue Swindon