MATTHEW LAVERACK’S letter of January 29 was deliciously ironic. While complaining about hate-mail, he simultaneously proceeded to misrepresent me. Let me set the record straight.

I am not anyone’s mouthpiece and last time I checked, I have my own independent mind. I did not speak about his letter to Coun Simpson-Laing, much less written it on her behalf. Besides which, I am pretty sure she can speak for herself.

I did give a yes/no response to Mr Laverack’s question, although it was edited out in the published letter. For clarification, I said “the items you mention are not indispensable”.

Describing me as a hopeful “Labour candidate” is entirely hypothetical.

At no stage did I indicate that a lack of sufficient tobacco or alcohol constituted an impoverished state. What I said is that an income of £71 per week leaves no spare cash for anything but the barest essentials.

By all means let’s have a vigorous debate, but Mr Laverack should pay the common courtesy of not making crass supposition or distorting what was said.

Richard Bridge, Holgate Road, York.