I NOTICE in your paper that the Monster Raving Loony Party candidate has had the guts to address another very controversial issue: the charity shop. He commented on the ever increasing amount now open in St Ives. While I am not quite sure if he was seri

I NOTICE in your paper that the Monster Raving Loony Party candidate has had the guts to address another very controversial issue: the charity shop.

He commented on the ever-increasing number now open in St Ives.

While I am not quite sure if he was serious regarding his comment on neutering them, I am.

We have too many. Before I am dragged to the ducking stool for my heretical views, please allow me to elaborate.

I opened the very first charity shop in St Ives in 1970. It was an Oxfam shop, and it was in Bridge Street (where Armando's Hairdressers is today) and I am an avid second-hander, be it charity shop or car boot. I have nothing against charity shops and, in fact, applaud the great job they do in raising much-needed cash for a wide variety of very worthy causes.

It is the number of charity shops in St Ives that is the problem. What we need are not more charity shops but proper shops, dare I say things like a greengrocer or fishmonger or would that suggestion be too heretical?

I have happy memories of Bet and Jim's greengrocers and the delights of the deli that was on Bridge Street.

While I have your good readers' attention, I would also like to ask how does one define a charity shop? I always thought it was a shop that sold things given to it by the public and, because they sold second hand and donated goods, they got cheaper rates and other financial benefits. Well now most charity shops sell a large amount of new goods, jewellery, foodstuffs, books, postcards, clothing etc.

I am not sure, if I were a small shopkeeper struggling with rising costs and falling customers, that I would be too happy seeing my business going to a shop claiming charity status selling new goods. That's not fair competition.

I think that, once a shop starts selling new things, it is no longer a charity shop but a business and should be treated as such. As to Sir Toby Jug, I raise my hat to you for your fundraising activities. It's a shame we don't see other politicians doing as much for the local community. Could it be they are too busy with their new moat plans or re-painting the designer duck house? Still, rest assured we will see them soon when this creaking parliament finally gasps its last breath. Having made free with our money, they will then be after our vote. Nothing new there, then.

One last observation, I do believe it was the Monster Raving Loony Party that first mooted the idea of votes to 18-year-olds, which was not taken seriously at the time if I recall.

LYNN DAVIES

St Ives