5 JANUARY 1974, Page 4

Christmas lamentations

Sir: One may well contrast the pursuit of economic growth with the Christmas message, as you do (December 22), but I feel that while what you say is largely justified, there is one important reservation to be made. This is that the cutting down of oil supplies, will, if continued, of itself lead to a real improvement in genuine prosperity, and I can explain this by citing my own experience of past growth, which is that of millions.

After living in Highgate since before the war, I was suddenly told that my property-dealer landlord would like me to leave my flat, and simultaneously I saw the Government plan for making Archway Road five (sic) times as wide as it is now, which would make life impossible for me and thousands of others. Whereas I could easily have bought a house or flat here in a less affected part of the district three years ago, .growth has meant that there is nothing to rent or buy at any price I cobld consider, and all I could see for the.luture is moving to Germany or America. That is what growth has meant for me, and I am not an old fogy but rather a fairly young and well qualified statistician and computer expert. I suggest that many in my position and millions who are less fortunate have been even more hardly dealt with by growth, with its associated automotive racket and property racket.

The happy and providential intervention of Sheikh Yarnani has already meant several weeks of good sleep for me for the first time in years, and the hope that Highgate will be spared the motorway bulldozers. How many others must there not be who if they think of the•matter clearly will not bless the name of the oil sheikhs?

Man needs good housing, unpolluted food, clean water, and air and peace and quiet. The single reform of eliminating the car and lorry would bring us far along that road, as well as probably causing the collapse of the interests which would have pulled down all London and all England in another decade. We do not need the swindle-growth and the swindleprosperity to which all that makes life worth living has been sacrificed. For the first time in twenty years I can wish you a Happy New Year without feeling that this year will be worse than the last.

G. J. A. Stern 6 Eton Court, Shepherds Hill, London N6