Public libraries are life-affirming | Letters

Judith Daniels thanks her council for her wonderful local library, Keith McClellan looks at the role they play in democracy, and Keith Martin argues their closure is breaking the law

I could not agree more with your leader (Editorial, 18 June) and the wonderful, life-affirming institutions that are public libraries. While sitting in my local community library writing this letter, I am surrounded by myriad activities including a well-attended jobs fair, people browsing shelves, and a cafe stocked with delicious food.

It is a sad indictment that our libraries are being decimated because local councils are being starved of the very necessary funds to keep them alive. Every generation from a child in arms to a centenarian can feel at home in a library’s multicultural, inclusive atmosphere. Loneliness is the scourge of our disconnected and alienated world, so libraries help to solve a real mental health problem by opening their doors to everyone. I agree too that helpful, knowledgeable staff and volunteers are the lynchpin that ties it all together. I am very fortunate that in Norfolk we have not lost this educational, vibrant, inclusive mine of information. I could not be more grateful to our far-sighted county council.
Judith Daniels

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Rank disrespect for our democracy | Letters

The House of Lords represents another world to most of the public, writes Darren Hughes of the Electoral Reform Society, shame on Christopher Chope, writes Tamsin Dunwoody, the daughter of the longest-ever serving woman MP, Gwyneth Dunwoody

Anyone who believes our politicians should be representative of the entire UK will have been astonished by the list of applicants seeking to fill a vacant seat in the House of Lords. There are 19 candidates for 31 voters in this hereditary peer “byelection” – where aristocrats decide from an exclusive list who can vote on our laws for life. From Lord Snowdon, 19th in line to the throne, to Lord Bridges, the Queen’s personal solicitor, it represents another world to most of the public.

This “election” makes a mockery of our democracy. But the whole house does: new research on the Lords has revealed it is dominated by ex-politicians and peers living in and around London, while the north and Midlands are far underrepresented. Almost 39% previously worked in politics, while just one peer’s main background is manual or skilled work – half the number who worked as royal family staff. The Lords is well overdue an overhaul. Let’s scrap the absurd hereditary byelections – and push ahead with a real reform agenda to establish a fairly and fully elected second chamber.
Darren Hughes
Chief executive, Electoral Reform Society

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'Harsh' criminal record checks hinder rehabilitation, court told

Supreme court hears claim that DBS system prevents ex-offenders from moving on

The government’s “harsh” system of criminal record checks prevents people with minor past convictions from applying for jobs and moving on with their lives, the supreme court has been told.

Several unnamed claimants in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have brought a challenge against the system, claiming that it hinders rehabilitation.

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Eurydice Dixon: how one woman’s death put focus on ‘male rage’ in Australia

The alleged rape and murder of a comedian has sparked anger about attitudes to women

When Eurydice Dixon finished her comedy gig at a Melbourne bar last Tuesday she was reportedly in high spirits, sharing a drink with her boyfriend before heading home.

She bought some food and walked through an area she knew well: Princes Park in an affluent northern suburb of the city. Just before midnight, she sent her boyfriend a message: “I’m almost home safe”.

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Supreme court sidesteps ruling in partisan gerrymandering cases

  • Maryland and Wisconsin cases sent back to lower courts
  • Democrats and Republicans each alleged partisan districting

The supreme court dodged a decision on whether it is constitutional for political parties to redraw electoral maps to gain a partisan advantage.

In two cases, one in Maryland and one in Wisconsin, the court on Monday found procedural reasons not to issue a ruling on gerrymandering.

Related: Gerrymander 5K: run highlights absurdity of Republican redistricting

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