Show solidarity with taxpayers

I READ Paul Cockroft's letter 'Scrap this feast' with some bemusement. Maybe in these austere times Leeds councillors could show some solidarity with the public and scrap the May AGM dinner.

Indeed they could take their lead from Green Party councillors David and Ann Blackburn who, in all their years serving Farnley and Wortley, never once attended the dinner on principle, believing it was wrong to use public money in this way.

In fact all the other Green councillors who represented that ward over the years refused to attend too, and to be fair there are a few councillors from other parties who also take this stance.

However this money will be a drop in the ocean compared to the savings being proposed.

The real villains are the cowardly members of this despicable Coalition government who have dreamt up these unnecessary and ideological cuts, then expect local authorities to do their dirty work for them.

Leeds City Council faces cuts of 150m over four years, 90m in the first of those. If these are introduced it is inevitable that services and the public will suffer.

I do not envy those at the council who will be forced to introduce these cuts. This is not down to economics, it is down to political will. The Government chose to hit the most vulnerable in society rather than look to their friends in the banking industry, and the businesses that avoid or evade around 120 billion a year in taxation.

As a nation we must choose to either defend what public services we have, ensuring they are adequately funded to remain at the point of need, or go the Government's way which I believe will lead to a system more akin to the USA where if you need something you pay private firms operating for profit, and if you can't afford you just go without or rely on overstretched charities.

Fine if you are an Old Etonian millionaire, dreadful if you are an ordinary resident of Leeds.

A M Pointon, Beeston

Held to ransom

PENSIONERS beware. If you own a car and have it comprehensively insured, new or old, make sure you check your renewal insurance fully.

The insurance companies have gone mad and greedier and it's all legal, because of course, it is mandatory that every driver young or old, has to have car insurance.

I am in the process of renewing mine on a new, small car. A run-of-the-mill hatchback, bought in July 2009 with maximum no claims bonus (nine years plus) with an average mileage of less than 5,000 per year. I tick all the boxes of what they and I need to keep the cost at a reasonable level for security and care of the car.

I did get a fairly good price in the change of the car for part of 2009 and an acceptable price in 2009/10 but my renewal for 2011/12 has an increase in price of around 33 per cent, so I thought I would ring round and see what other people were going to charge.

Three other insurers, catering for the elderly, have priced my new insurance with a 200 per cent increase.

It's an unbelievable situation in a period when the UK is at stagnation point and people are trying their best to get by and live with all the changes being made.

It's time for the Government to check the position in law that gives insurance companies the right to charge just what they want. At this time they just hold motorists to ransom.

D Birch, Cookridge, Leeds 16

Failed idea

Although I sympathise with Cherril Cliff's grandchild's plight, the Educational Maintenance Allowance was just a crude mechanism, at the taxpayer's expense as usual, to disguise New Labour's abject failure in creating the right economic conditions where employment for our young people could flourish.

Before that, it was the crackpot idea that at least 50 per cent of children must attend university – and look where that's left us. With many graduates unable to get jobs anyway, educational "apartheid" on tuition fees between England and the rest of the UK, and the taxpayer again burdened with the unaffordable costs involved.

Unless this country gets back into the habit of making or building things again, there will never be enough jobs for the mass of ordinary people, nor will there be enough tax revenues generated to fund welfare benefits.

D S Boyes, Rodley

Fingers crossed

THANK you so very much for posting my message on my plight in finding Andrea Gilliam Rafferty. The response has been overwhelming. Hopefully, after all these years, I will finally be capable of getting in touch with my long lost friend.

Nancy Prouse Lewis, Mt Airy, North Carolina, USA

Wise counsel

IT WAS touching to read your article about the death of the former head of Lawnswood High School, Miss Hilda Longworth (YEP, December 24). I can testify to her wisdom and kindness.

Once, I was late for school, and as punishment had to go and see the Headmistress. I waited, terrified, with several others, outside the big oak door to be summoned into her office. When the call came, I walked across seemingly acres of patterned carpet to Miss Longworth's desk. She asked me gently why I had come to see her.

"Miss Longworth, I was a bit late for school yesterday, and it's silly because I only live round the corner."

A slight agonising pause, and then:

"Well, that's all right now, Liss. Even those who live close to the church are sometimes late for the service."

And, with that, I was allowed to leave and returned with a much lighter heart to the classroom.

I have never forgotten her words.