Choices must be based on greater good

HOWEVER hard we might try there will always be an element of bias in our views as to where public funding should be focused.

Parents of young children might argue that money should be concentrated on improving schools.

Older residents, on the other hand, may think it should be spent increasing pension or winter fuel allowance payments.

Such differences in opinion are the reason we elect paid politicians to make those hard choices for us.

Our expectation is that they will decide where money should be spent based on an objective appraisal of need.

It is therefore concerning to hear accusations that Labour chiefs are agreeing to spend millions of pounds on insulating homes in the city in order to retain the support of two green councillors whose backing is necessary to keep them in power.

Labour says such claims are a "desperate attempt to mask the depth, pace and damage to local authorities."

True or not, with the local authority bracing itself for cuts totalling 90m it is essential that every pound is spent for the right reasons.

That means targeting spending where it can do the city most good, not simply to protect the interests of a particular party.

Paying off

THERE is a general assumption that community service is an easy option for offenders.

So we hope our account of a day spent undercover with a Community Payback team in Leeds helps to dispel that myth, along with a few others.

What's clear is that those who take part in the scheme feel a strong sense of achievement. Who knows, it might just convince a few repeat offenders that they are capable of making a contribution to society and cause them to change their behaviour.

As for being the easy option, working outside in all weathers doing jobs no one else wants to do for absolutely nothing is a lot harder than sitting in prison.

Then there are the benefits to us and the places where we live.

People sentenced to carry out work in our communities complete 450,000 hours of unpaid labour a year.

With councils facing severe cutbacks, that's a valuable 2.6m worth of work we're getting for free.

All in all, the arguments in favour of Community Payback add up.

Jimi's honour

TOMORROW will be a special day for the family and loved ones of Jimi Heselden.

The late business tycoon and philanthropist will be made a Freeman of Leeds, the first person to receive the award posthumously.

No one could deny he's fully deserving of the honour - Jimi's business brain may have made him a millionaire, but his heart and soul stayed firmly in Leeds.

Granting him this status recognises the enormous contribution he made to our city.

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