Working together to crack crime

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MAY I congrat-ulate you on your recent coverage of crime statistics in neigh-bourhoods across Leeds.

This has provided your readers with a fascinating insight into how crime varies across the city and the impact that it can have on the lives of individuals and communities.

Whenever we ask people what their priorities for the city are, crime and antisocial behaviour are never far from the top of the list.

Your investigations highlighted some of the positive ways that communities are coming together to fight crime, but it also makes clear that we still have a lot of work to do, This is particularly true on burglary, where Leeds’ performance does not compare well to similar cities.

That’s why the Safer Leeds Partnership and Leeds City Council’s executive board have recently agreed a new Burglary Reduction Strategy – £1.3m will be invested over the next two years as we looked to get burglary in Leeds down to its lowest ever recorded level by 2013.

This will require all key partners pulling together to help us get crime down. We will be aiming to attack this problem from all sides, looking at offender management and criminal justice at the same time as improving security in homes and looking to disrupt and reduce the stolen goods market.

Of course, the courts also have a key role to play in crime prevention, so I was reassured to read your article “Good time burglar sent back to prison”. This shows that if criminals repeatedly fail to change their ways and profit by stealing from others, magistrates will be prepared to use the full force of the law and send persistent offenders to prison.

I can’t promise that these efforts will solve all our problems with crime, but I am confident that with every organisation tasked with tackling crime working closely together, we can begin to make our streets and homes safer than ever before.

Councillor Peter Gruen, chair of the Safer Leeds Partnership, executive board member for neighbourhoods, housing and regeneration

Train link hopes

I WANT to congratulate Harrogate Chamber of Trade on their recently announced, highly imaginative and innovative scheme to electrify the Leeds to York line via Harrogate, using surplus but refurbished London Underground trains, thus greatly increasing both frequency and capacity.

The plan involves electrifying the track but not putting in overhead wires. This is the system on most of the Merseyrail network.

A number of new stations, such as a park-and-ride station for the airport and one near Pool, to serve Otley, would be opened. Rather than purchasing new trains, stock from the Underground, to be replaced after 2014, would be used. The scheme would give us in Horsforth a minimum four trains an hour into Leeds during the day and a doubling of the evening service to two trains hourly, as well as increasing the number of available seats by 50 per cent.

Once electrified, the line could feed into the scheme I frequently advocate for Leeds central area: rail tunnels, with new stations at Leeds University, Dortmund Square/Merrion Street to serve the Arena and Leeds City Square. Later the tunnel could be extended to Holbeck and connected to lines to Bradford and Halifax to the west and Castleford and Goole to the east, which are also relatively self-contained, like the Harrogate line. A northern single track extension to Ripon and Northallerton might be feasible.

The Harrogate scheme, sponsored by the local business community, has received all-party support, given the benefits that would be brought to Harrogate’s conference, tourism and retail sectors. It would also greatly benefit residents of Horsforth who could effectively see a doubling in the number of seats offered. The cost of £100 million is relatively modest when seen in the light of the social and economic boost that could be derived from such a fundamental improvement in the quantity and quality of the local rail infrastructure.

Will it happen? Remember that this is England and that, in contrast to a range of countries including Germany, France, Australia and the USA that understand the benefits that come from investment in rail services, the UK Treasury seeks to dilute beyond recognition all worthwhile rail schemes requiring substantial public investment. So I won’t be holding my breath. But, for once, there’s something exciting on the local rail scene.

James Bovington, Horsforth

Bleak outlook

I HAVE just realised how to slash unemployment: give all the unemployed jobs as weather forecasters.

From watching them on TV, it is clear that no skill is required to do this job since there is always a 50 per cent chance of getting it right – it will be either hot or cold, wet or dry, windy or calm.

The real beauty of the job is that it does not matter how many times you get the forecast wrong, you never get the sack.

There is only one other job I know of where you can be completely useless and not get the sack and that is as a top banker. In fact, bankers get millions of pounds in bonuses for being useless at their jobs.

Sadly, the unemployed have no hope of getting such a job as all top banking vacancies are reserved for the ‘old school tie’ brigade. That is why senior politicians have turned a blind eye while the bankers get bonuses – they hope to get directorships with the banks through the ‘old boy’ network.

Martin J Phillips, Tinshill Lane, Cookridge

Vicious circle

THE letter “Sporting chance” (YEP, July 13), revealed some of the reasons our children are overweight but why is West Yorkshire worse than most of England?

Is it because we are closing sports centres down instead of encouraging more to use them? Is it because their parents can’t be bothered taking their children to such centres, or for a walk at the weekend to our famous places like Temple Newsam or Roundhay Park or Adel Woods etc?

Taking children to school is not doing them a favour, it’s only encouraging them for be lazy and starts a vicious circle.

A Hague, Bellbrooke Grove, Leeds

Raising a smile

BETHANY HARE’s fundraising efforts for Martin House are amazing and I wish her every success with her “Walk of Smiles”.

My family and myself support Martin House and one of my granddaughters has recently done a sponsored mountain climb on their behalf.

Keep smiling, Bethany.

Mavis Harrison, Saxton Gardens, Leeds

Powerless MPs

MR Clark’s unctuous praise for his MP (YEP, July 19) is misplaced and undeserved.

No MP behaves selflessly and in the primary interest of the country and his constituents. They are handsomely rewarded and multiply privileged for preserving an obscurely-fashioned system of deceit, pretence, secrecy and patronage.

There is no point, no honour and no value in their fanciful, self-important professional posturing.

They travel and talk ceaselessly, yet are powerless to effect social or economic trends, unwilling to truly represent people’s concerns (housing, transport, cost of living, unemployment) and are opposed to any devolution of power.

As for “speaking in the House...promoting the area...and helping people with problems”, whom do they speak for? What comes of their promotions? What problems do they ever solve?

While they make train-makers unemployed, these train-riders and laptop loungers will be there when it hits the buffers.

Westminster should be emptied and MPs invited to apply for jobs as tourist guides, car park attendants and cleaners. Then given a 300-mile ASBO.

P Kilroy, Spennithorne Avenue, Leeds

Free to destroy

UNLIKE V Wood (YEP, July 15), I am not sceptical about the uproar over the antics of sections of the print media. For years I have been critical of the intrusive, corrosive and destructive attitude adopted by many journalists under the catch-all phrase “Freedom of the Press”.

Freedom to do what? Destroy lives and reputations on a whim? Have no thought or care for the children of their victims?

There is a huge difference in exposing wrongful and criminal actions and what the Murdoch people have been doing.

R Pearson, Brignall Garth, Leeds

Legal loophole

WHEN the Arndale Centre in Headingley was being altered some years ago, I was caught in a similar parking situation to G Waite (YEP, July 14).

I was so annoyed I wrote to an MP and she asked a question about it in Parliament. She discovered that the DVLA sells lists of car numbers and owners to companies.

Shock horror from MPs but it seems they didn’t change the law.

How much money does this make and what is it spent on?

D Brazier, Leeds 16

Need for speed?

RECENTLY, reading a motoring review for a particular new model of car, the correspondent stated that it cruises beautifully at 80 miles per hour. Forgive me if I am wrong but I always believed the maximum speed in this country was 70 miles per hour. Am I wrong?

J Shedlow, Fir Tree Vale, Leeds

YEP Letters: October 19