Troubling side of the 24-hour city

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AS Labour councillors in Leeds bemoan the way that our city has been blighted by alcohol abuse, don’t they realise who is to blame?

Not the supermarkets but the Labour Party itself, whose policies at both national and local levels have created today’s nightmare scenarios of drunken and violent behaviour.

Who but a former Labour leader of Leeds City Council called for Leeds to be a 24-hour city, then actively promoted Leeds nationwide as a venue for binge drinking, exacerbated by allowing more and more food takeaways to open all hours?

Which government gave in to the lobbying of the alcohol industry and allowed sales both in bars etc and off-licences up to 24 hours a day, over seven days a week on demand? New Labour, because it was greedy for associated revenues of duty and VAT.

Not only that, but Labour abandonded Sunday hours for sales of alcohol in supermarkets, previously restricted to noon to 2pm, presumably to underline its secular approach to everything, at least where Christianity is concerned.

Alcoholism and obesity are two major health issues of the 21 century and the blame for these lies firmly with Labour’s flawed policies.

D S Boyes, Rodley

Unfair fine

I WAS wondering if any of your readers had come across Excel Parking Services. I did on March 17 at Crown Point.

I had accidently put my disabled clock on the dashboard not the disable badge. An easy mistake as both are blue and the same size. In addition, because I am having treatment for bone cancer, my mind was slightly distracted and I did not check the badge when I put it on the dash board.

I pointed this out to Excel Parking Services when I wrote to them regarding the parking ticket they had given me. I also pointed out to them (because I photographed it) the van in the disabled bay next to me that had neither a parking ticket nor a disabled badge or clock.

The fact that no other car parking at Crown Point has to display a ticket or badge only those using a disabled bay made feel discriminated against – another point made to Excel and ignored.

I have begged Excel Parking Services by letter, as I do not intend telephoning them on their 090 telephone number, to take me before a judge to let them decide if the parking ticket should be cancelled – but Excel are having none of that and next for me, if I do not pay the ultimate £100 ticket, they will refer me to their debt collectors.

It is disgraceful that Excel Parking Services can bully vunerable old age pensioners like me with cancer who made a simple human mistake.

FRANCINE LEVI, Shadwell

Sharks bite

IN April, Adrian Byrne asked in a letter about MPs’ views on the issue of loan sharking. High cost credit is a serious issue in Leeds West. There are a range of high cost credit providers, which outnumber banks in the constituency. They charge extortionate interest rates of up to 4,000 per cent APR to lend the money many customers need to make ends meet.

The vote that Mr Byrne refers to in Parliament was a watered down amendment of a Labour Bill to cap the cost of credit – Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs would not support the tougher motion demanded by Labour MPs.

Last year I wrote a detailed submission to the Government on loan sharks in our area. It cannot be right that they can legally charge enormous interest rates, taking advantage of local people. I believe that we need strong action to prevent families being trapped by loan sharks – starting with a properly managed credit cap, but also emphasising Credit Unions, a living wage and responsible banking practices.

Rachel Reeves, Member of Parliament for Leeds West

Breast unit plea

IN February this year, my mum, who is 86, was admitted to the LGI Breast Unit to have a cancerous lump removed. She was in the Infirmary for eight days. I visited every day and saw at first hand the dedicated and lovely people who work on Ward 75.

If the unit is moved to Bexley Wing at St James’ Hospital, where I assume it will be, it is obvious that the staff there will be just as dedicated to their patients. Having said that, the unit at the LGI needs to stay open because of the one-on-one care that the patients receive. This small unit has a family feel about it and surely this helps its patients who are going through a very bad time.

The staff also kept me informed of my mum’s progress and since her leaving the LGI we have had to return to Ward 75 because of a related problem and they once again put her at ease.

I hope the LGI unit is left alone and allowed to continue quietly with its work.

Mrs L A Swatman, Leeds

Park litter

I ENTIRELY agree with David Hudson’s letter about the discraceful sea of litter in Roundhay Park (May 3) and would like to add another reason.

It is hardly surprising that dogs are hard to control on or off the lead when the ground is littered with food, including dangerous chicken bones, which my dog found last Sunday.

May I respectfully suggest that Roundhay Park has a designated picnic area with tables and benches and bins so that dog walkers do not have to be on the receiving end of screams and abuse from unexpected picnickers strewn across the park. Dog owners are constantly told to bag up dog mess, throw it in a bin, take it home or be subject to a fine – shame that doesn’t apply to non-dog owners too.

Hillary Miller, Leeds

AV confusion

IF the AV system is accepted, how are we supposed to arrange our choices in order when we no longer receive any information about local candidates? Not that many years ago, all candidates would at least push manifesto leaflets through our letter boxes, so we had some idea who we were voting for and their policies, but that doesn’t happen now.

Once we have six or seven candidates to choose from how can we sort out the wheat from the chaff with no information at all? It’s too late to try to make a decision once we’re in the ballot box, when faced with a long list of names.

At least with the present system I know who the main candidates are and can ignore the rest but if I’m expected to know all about every single person on the list I feel I’ll probably give up before I start.

A Ward, Foxwood Rise, Leeds LS8

Debt crisis

MR Shedlow (Letters, April 27) is right to criticise the government for lashing out vast amounts in overseas aid whilst still borrowing heavily, but few people truly appreciate the depth of the financial hole we are in.

In 1997 public sector net debt stood at £352 billion; after 12 years of Gordon Brown’s financial incompetence it had more than doubled, and by the end of the last financial year had reached £876 billion – that’s about £14,000 for every man, woman and child in the country.

Many reputable economists believe that the current government cuts don’t go far enough, but even with them the debt will still go on rising, if we were to follow the policies favoured by Millipede and co it would be rising even faster – in fact Alistair Darling’s 2009 budget planned for further borrowing of £709 billion from then up to 2014 – that is the economics of the madhouse.

Even after the planned cuts, by 2015 we will be spending £67 billion per annum just in debt interest, equivalent to 10 per cent of all tax receipts. This simply can’t go on, and the sooner people realise that the better, we may criticise some government policies, but if this problem is not tackled now we’ll be following Greece, Portugal and Ireland down the pan.

J R Wainwright, by email

Fuel price anger

ALL fuel costs will have been falling in Europe and the northern hemisphere as the demand falls after the winter period.

There can be no justification for our prices in the UK being so much dearer than elsewhere in the world, affecting many of our manufacturing and delivery costs.

George Osborne did not do us the very great favour he made out in his last budget. He had already had his pound of our flesh and more, due to the many pump price increases following on from his increase in VAT to 20 per cent and since. But nothing is being said by Osborne to acknowledge all these extra billions being raised by this and where this money is going, to save some cuts.

This government is once again failing to control the massive greed of the global fuel companies etc whilst maintaining its own excalating tax on tax (fuel duty plus VAT).

North Sea oil and gas availability is not what it was but this should be giving us some advantage on others and not the massive disadvantage we have.

I know that the global oil market is priced in dollars and so a poor pound-sterling has an effect but it cannot have been any worse than the euro in recent times is or has been.

So what is the excuse for prices increasing by over 33 per cent since late last year? We have some of our own oil, gas and the refineries that produce many other products. Other than fuel for road vehicles and planes, plus oil for production, heating and gases etc but in this latter group bearing the brunt.

Again, as usual prices were very quick to rise but why are they still being held at this very high level and still continue to rise. There is trouble in the Middle East but this is only a small source. Don’t they, or won’t they, talk to Opec anymore, as was always done in past times of troubles, to stabilise global oil production and prices?

Instead, they are allowing market speculators, who manufactured the financial meltdown, to dictate and control prices in our country.

Again, the super rich get richer. They may already have their electric cars etc, to hell with the rest of us in the country.

The only increase in manufacturing in this country is the manufacturing of prices for all our commodities, any small excuse is greatly exacerbated.

Brian Hepworth, Belle Isle

YEP Letters: June 13