Will deputy PM join fight for heart unit?

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IF Nick Clegg is really against the current proposed NHS reforms, as he says he is, what is his position on the Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery Unit?

As this unit also serves the people of Sheffield and the South Yorkshire region, is he prepared to assist these people in retaining this very important facility for them and us?

We need to know where Mr Clegg and all the other MPs in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Humberside stand.

How many more MPs can we get on side by writing to them?

We need a straight answer, unlike David Cameron.

Mr Cameron has said that he believes in people power, but will he ignore or will he let over half a million, and growing numbers of people, have their say?

I have stated previously that a county the size and population of Yorkshire, plus the people of Lincolnshire and Humberside, deserves these vital and excellent facilities to stay in place.

It is wrong to close this unit and create this void in vital services, resulting in babies and young children, plus their families, in our counties travelling up to hundreds of very dangerous miles, in all weathers to gain the treatment they may urgently require.

We have always been told, many times that delays in treatment costs lives, or is this not true any more when it suits their purpose?

Don’t Cameron, Lansley and co care that our children’s lives are more important than saving our money, especially on their ridiculous cuts?

Any loss of service in our region can never be twisted into being seen as any improvement and benefit, to the millions of population involved. No matter how large, or good, the services and facilities are elsewhere, distance and untroubled travel is of vital consideration.

BRIAN HEPWORTH, Belle Isle

In defence of councillors

IN HIS ongoing vendetta against city councillors, P Kilroy is living in the past.

For at least 10 years, city councillors have been paid fixed allowances which have to cover phone calls from home and on personal mobiles on council business and all travel within the Greater Leeds area. Expenses can only be claimed when councillors travel outside the city on council business. There are no longer expenses for attending council meetings.

P Kilroy’s alternative to the system of elected councillors is full of holes. He states street level concerns are properly the business of council officers. Just ask the residents who have tried and failed to get action by council officers via the call centre. There is a glass wall somewhere which city councillors deal with on behalf of their ward residents. The existing system of parish and town councillors has almost turned from democratically elected into volunteering, as of the 39 such councils in Greater Leeds, only six needed to hold elections in May, with some having unfilled vacancies.

So where will P Kilroy’s “community-based volunteers” come from? Possibly from the eccentrics who frequent the letter pages of local newspapers with diatribes based on unchecked and inaccurate information? The mind boggles.

VALERIE KENDALL, Leeds 6

Value for money

I WOULD not want to create a beauty contest for Leeds parks, but I’d like to add the following reflection.

I visited a fine country park this week, as I do each and every day of each week. The country estate has extensive grounds, well-kept gardens, rare breeds of sheep and cattle, nature trails, a children’s play area, cafe, and at its heart, a national museum of furniture in a fine example of an 18th century house.

The cost to my family for visiting this estate is £3. For this I have a daily ticket which entitles the whole of my extended family to visit the park as many times as we like throughout the day. £3 a day gives me unlimited access to one of the most beautiful and beautifully kept country estates in the country.

Additionally, and for the same £3 a day charge, I receive the following benefits:

l rubbish collected from my house

l free access to libraries

l street lighting across the city

l my elderly relatives cared for

l my disabled friends and neighbours cared for

The list goes on and of course these are subsidised by national government as well, but my annual council tax of just over £1,000 seems exceptional value. I’d pay a £1,000 a year just to visit Leeds parks, never mind the other services. As we complain about our council tax bills, criticise our local council for waste and inefficiency, we should conduct our own mini-audit of just what we get for our money.

Adrian Strain, by email

Struggles of a jobseeker

I DON’T understand how the government has got the cheek to say that people on benefits don’t go out looking for jobs when we do.

The government doesn’t even look into people’s claims, they leave it up to the Jobcentre and this is why no-one is getting anywhere.

I have been on benefits for nearly five years now and I really think it is ridiculous because I still can’t get a job anywhere as every time I apply for a cleaning job it’s always asking if you have had previous experience and no, I haven’t (why would you need it when you grow up cleaning?). Then they say they cannot offer you the job. It’s really pathetic.

I have tried to apply for colleges but cannot get in due to a change in the government. They say they want people off benefits and into work but how are you supposed to as my partner claims for me and himself, as he is on sick, and now the Jobcentre will not help me into any courses or help finding work. What am I supposed to do?

I think this is out of order, how the Jobcentre can’t give us the help we need. All they are bothered about is getting paid themselves as they have already got a job. The majority of the times when you phone up the telephone customer service people are very arrogant and rude as they want to hurry you off the phone and keep passing you on to different benefit lines – and still you don’t get anywhere.

Me and my partner have a four-year-old daughter who is going to start primary school very soon and we really want a job by the time the summer holidays are over. I don’t understand why we should have to go to the papers for something to get done about it.

I think now should be the time we change our government again as this has messed everything up in Britain. We need Labour back!

Carly Allotey and Shane Mitchell, Beeston

Ignore Mr Balls’s ‘plan B’

A HAND-WRINGING group of left-wing economists, led by Ed Balls, begs George Osborne to think again on spending cuts.

Mr Balls, a key player in the Labour team, thinks that bankrupted Britain urges the Chancellor to find a “plan B”.

The International Monetary Fund backs Osborne on his “plan A” strategy.

Who would be the country rather believe, Mr Balls, whose fiscal incompetence landed Britain with £1 trillion of debt or the IMF, with no political axe to grind?

Mr Balls and his colleagues were very good at getting the country into this mess. They still don’t have a clue how to get us out.

Rather than listen to these clowns, George Osborne might as well take economic advice from the Chuckle Brothers.

M Nicholson, Barwick in Elmet

Our duty to help those in need

I HAVE to wonder if, as a young woman working in the munitions factory to help this country while at war and afterwards working towards making Britain strong again, my mother thought that in her later years, when she needed help, her residential home could be taken from her.

Leeds Adult Social Care say they want the best care – well, in that case leave Westholme in Wortley alone. It is an extremely good home.

We, or the council on council tax payers’ behalf, spend millions moving travellers on when they move on to land illegally, why is nothing being done to stop this, as again these travellers move on to land in Gildersome and yet again Leeds have to start the legal work to remove them.

I also wonder if any of the MPs can tell me how much it costs for translators to help foreigners who get into legal problems here. I know it is probably paid from a different source but it is all tax payers’ money.

My mother lost family and friends in the war and now she fears losing her home.

Shame on this government for the treatment of our elderly who gave so much to be treated so appallingly.

We continue to give foreign aid – not a problem if the country can afford it – we can’t.

Time to look after those who gave everything for their country as their sense of duty. It is now our duty to care for them in their final years.

I believe some elderly will just give up if Westholme closes. What a way to repay them.

Time to get our priorities right.

J CAMPBELL, Pudsey

Consult widely

REGARDING speed humps on Owlcotes Road and Cemetery Road.

Leeds Council Highways Department have written to residents on the above roads outlining proposals to install speed humps (traffic calming measures) on these roads.

I calculate that between Galloway Lane and the end of the cemetery there will be 15 humps.

Hundreds of people live in roads and estates (Hillfoot and Inghams) off Owlcotes Road and Cemetery Road and they have not been notified of these proposals.

I take the view that all residents should be consulted and views obtained before any action is taken.

CHARLES YORK, Owlcotes Garth, Pudsey

Double jail terms

WITH reference to sentencing burglars, they appear to have got the arithmetic wrong, i.e. double or treble the time that they would spend in the nick and you would reduce the number of burglaries.

This could also apply to drug pushers.

G RUANE, Horsforth

Phyllis Bentley with her novel Inheritance

YEP Letters: March 25