We did try to save frontline services

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I READ with interest a recent letter from John McDermott (‘Declaring war on its own people’, YEP, February 28) and was surprised to find that, at least in part, I was in agreement with his views.

Following last week’s budget meeting, the Labour/Green-led administration did indeed commit itself to an agenda of cuts, cuts and cuts. The Conservative Group’s proposals were much less severe than those proposed by the administration and would, in fact, have seen a number of frontline services protected.

These included the Leeds Crisis Centre, the Free City Centre Bus, 20 of Leeds’ much valued libraries, three leisure centres and investment to protect third sector and charitable organisations from the cuts being brought forward here in Leeds.

Of course we face a budget challenge and of course there are difficult decisions to be made, however our proposals in the budget debate would have protected the frontline by making savings in other areas, largely confined to the back office and non-essential budgets, such as stationery, furniture and a £1.8m internet replacement project.

I was therefore astonished when our proposal to keep open 20 libraries was rejected in order to protect £300,000 of investment in information technology.

This type of decision-making is just plain barmy and it is bitterly disappointing to see the proposals we brought forward rejected in such a short-sighted manner. While I don’t agree with many things Mr McDermott says, we are certainly in agreement on one thing – we should protect frontline services wherever possible.

Councillor Matthew Lobley, Conservative Group Chief Whip, Leeds City Council

Council priorities

OUR fabulous council leader, Keith Wakefield, has claimed that Leeds City Council will “work against the tide of financial pressures” to deliver a budget that prioritises and protects services for the most vulnerable people.

This is despite the fact that the council plans to close down the Leeds Crisis Centre and Vale and Stocks Hill day centres for very poorly and mentally-ill people.

The budget cuts planned by Leeds City Council will lower the standard of service delivery for those people with the greatest needs and this seems wrong to me.

Please be honest with the people of Leeds, Mr Wakefield, and try to give us some answers to these questions:

1. How much did the councillors spend on the lavish feast enjoyed by the ward councillors at the council AGM, which was held in May last year?

2. How much will it cost the taxpayer to provide sandwiches at the full council meetings this year?

Is this a case of Leeds City Council cutting frontline services, whilst keeping themselves in a life of luxury and the free food which they have become accustomed to receiving?

P Cockroft, Tingley

Keep bus running

REGARDING the cancellation of the Leeds free bus service, I think this would be a big mistake. This service has proved invaluable to the older people, disabled and parents with young children to get to the LGI and centres such as the Merrion Centre, museums, libraries etc, which are too far for them to walk to.

The answer must be to keep the service running, with a charge of 50p, which I am sure people could afford and would pay the driver’s wages and the upkeep of the buses, as these buses are always well used and very busy.

B Kitchen, Leeds 15

UK is too soft

WITH reference to ‘Refugees lose out on cuts’, I would have thought the unions would be more concerned with the people of this country losing their homes and jobs, the state of the NHS and our own charities to support.

We also have vulnerable people who need help. All these will suffer because of the cuts imposed on us.

This country cannot now afford to support everyone coming into this country claiming torture or persecution. We are far too soft. We must tighten our belts and our hearts.

Mrs B Gillat, Moortown

Protect trees

I WAS pleased to notice a few people have written about the felled trees in front of the Art Gallery.

Trees are one of our Earth’s beauties and need preserving whenever possible, yet our council can’t wait to pay for them to be destroyed and when they are gone, they are gone forever. It’s the same with bushes and shrubs, where all you see now are the ugly stumps or roots left.

Like many of our old buildings, it seems that preservation is now a thing of the past.

A Hague, Bellbrooke Grove, Leeds

Thanks, Ronnie

I FEEL I have to write this letter to say a big “thank you” to Ronnie Fisher and his wife, Maureen, for the photo exhibition they held in the Arndale Centre, Cross Gates, of local and professional footballers. The photos stretch back decades.

The amount of hours Ronnie must have spent blowing these photos up and colouring them, and the amount of tea and coffee Maureen had to make for Ronnie to keep him going, was tremendous.

It was great to hear many youngsters who were looking suddenly say: “Mam! look there’s my grandad on this photo.”

So, once again, on behalf of many people who say the exhibition a big thank you, Ronnie.

J Cooney, Halton

More memories of ‘King’ Cole

IN answer to ‘Was Nat on the bill at the Odeon?’, it was 1963, the great Ted Heath band and the one and only Nat ‘King’ Cole. For one night.

Many artists appeared on stage at the Odeon (now Primark) – the likes of Roy Orbison, the Beatles, Shirley Bassey, who I saw with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, this was 1962.

Oh happy days.

KEN GODWARD, Leeds 9

l My wife and I saw Nat ‘King’ Cole at the Odeon Cinema. We believe it was 1962-63.

We were front row circle which cost one guinea – one pound, one shilling.

The best singer who ever lived.

RONNIE SMITH, Batley

Simple pleasure

RE the ‘Cash for heating’ letter (YEP, February 26). Doesn’t this reader realise that many older people live alone and actually go to bingo to meet friends and to keep warm in a pleasant atmosphere, and also to save money on their their gas and electricity? Let them live a little, please.

I am a pensioner, so is my husband. We worked all our lives and we have always paid full rent etc. We do not get any benefits from the state except the heating allowance, which is a big help, but we don’t get £25 per week when the weather is freezing and we don’t beg for it.

We don’t drink or smoke, we have done in the past, but I go to bingo and I really enjoy the company of many good friends.

I am sure most people would enjoy this atmosphere rather than staying in on their own, with no-one to talk to except perhaps a treasured pet. It is a lonely life and all too soon they could become housebound because of their health. I don’t believe they all fritter their money away.

My sister, at 70, has just had a massive stroke and depends on nurses for everything. She is in a home now and would dearly love to go to bingo. The older people I know don’t squander their money. They have lived in times when there was very little of everything to go around. Have a heart and don’t begrudge these senior citizens of the little pleasures they have.

Mrs M Beddow, Horsforth

Get facts right

IN reply to L Ramsey’s letter (YEP, February 26), he or she wants to get their facts right.

All pensioners do not get the extra £25, that is only for those on benefits who qualify and I am not one of those.

A large percentage of today’s pensioners started work at 14 and lived through the Second World War, so if there are any perks being thrown about, nobody deserves them more than the pensioner, as we have put into the pot. Both my husband and I paid taxes for over 50 years. I take the fuel payment with pleasure.

We do not play bingo etc. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, L Ramsey.

J Sowerby, Bramley

Charity windfall

I WOULD just like to say a big thank you to Morrisons at Hunslet and Asda at Morley for being so helpful and courteous when I was collecting money for Help The Heroes. Both supermarkets provided a table and chairs for me, along with cups of tea, and all staff made me so very welcome.

I have already collected £3,000 for this worthwhile cause and, now that I have a new guide dog, Rosie, I would very much like to recommence fundraising in the future.

Thank you once again to these supermarkets and, of course, a big thank you to the generous shoppers who gave their cash.

IVY NEEDHAM, MBE

Danger island

I WOULD like to thank D J Wilson for bringing to our attention the death trap, sorry the new island, sticking out on Meanwood Road. Unfortunately it came too late for me.

Two weeks ago I was coming from town towards the new island when a motorist swerved without warning on to my side of the road to avoid the island, causing me to take evasive action to avoid a collision. In doing so I hit the pavement edge, causing damage to my car which cost me £200 to repair. One wonders who thinks up these crackpot ideas...

Malcolm Shedlow, Alderton Rise, Leeds

High price of tattoo removal

IN the YEP there was an article about tatoos. One reference stood out: “with removals costing the NHS a staggering £40 million a year”.

Why should people, who have chosen to decorate themselves in this fashion, have them removed at our expense? How can this be? Something wrong somewhere, I think.

M Whitehead, Norfolk Mount, Leeds

YEP Letters: August 18