YEP Letters: August 16

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IN VIEW of the increasing number of independent retailers that are being forced to closed, shouldn’t Leeds City Council reconsider its rent and overhead charges?

Many shops are situated in the beautiful arcades and their loss not only deprives visitors and shoppers of a pleasant atmosphere and visual experience, but the chance to buy unusual items.

Wasn’t the same short-sightedness and greed responsible in part for the disappearance of much of Kirkgate Market?

The other factor is the shopping centres with their homogeneous, overpriced bleakness.

How can the city centre sustain eight of these without there being a detrimental effect on small retailers?

Is there a contingency plan for when Briggate and Commercial Street are affected and we see boarded-up premises?

As a goodwill gesture, 80 of our councillors should be found work laying tarmac drives and clearing autumn leaves, creating a £2m annual saving. This would provide a fund to support concessionary charges for small businesses.

One tobacconist, bookshop, cafe or vintage bric-a-brac shop is an irreplaceable feature in the city landscape, contributing character, charm and charisma.

How do we think our own Marks & Spencer, Asda and Burton started?

Paul Kilroy, Lawnswood

Underground’s the way to go

Congratulations to Rev Robin Paterson for his letter lamenting the lack of a modern transport system in Leeds, which he attributes to a conspiracy on the part of the Headingley ‘mafia’ (YEP, August 4).

Something has indeed gone badly wrong in Leeds and historically it’s characterised on the one hand by lack of ambition and confidence among the city’s transport planners, and on the other by a failure to recognise plans that are in the best interests of the city and reject those that turn out to be misguided.

The closure of rail links into the city 50 years ago is a clear case in point. In Manchester such links form the backbone of the tram network.

If the line from Otley was still in use there would be no need to build a massive car park at Bodington in the (possibly unrealistic) expectation that drivers from towns to the north west will spend time parking up to join a queue for the next trolleybus, which will take almost as long as the existing bus service to get into the city centre.

While I have no time for nimbyism, I can appreciate the frustration of the Headingley ‘mafia’ at the sacrifice they are expected to make for so little gain.

The time spent crossing the centre of Manchester by tram makes it clear how seriously hampered this network is by the abandonment of the 1970s plan to connect the main stations underground.

And it’s an underground system we should be looking at for Leeds. The streets in both the city centre and suburbs are simply not wide enough to accommodate a fast public transit system and provide space for the private car.

Expensive? Yes. But if the job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

Carl Brooke, Leeds

Market building is a Leeds gem

I can agree with DS Boyes that market traders are having a hard time (YEP, August 9), but I’m astonished at his statement regarding Kirkgate Market.

Built in the Edwardian (not Victorian) era, the market hall building is probably the most impressive and ornate in the city, attracting many overseas visitors taking photographs.

If he is referring to the post-1975 fire section then I agree that this is not the most prestige build. However, this was the outcome of getting the market trading again as soon as possible after the fire.

To return the traders who had been burnt out in just 10 months was a colossal achievement by the council.

As far as how much taxpayers’ money has been spent patching up the building, he is obviously badly informed. All expenditure on the market has been paid by traders in the form of service charges.

The costs of the post-fire rebuild and fish market were repaid by the traders through an increase in rent, which was never returned to the original amount.

The post-fire build was a temporary structure with five-year planning permission that has lasted 38 years and is still standing.

I have been connected to the market from first working there in 1955 to the present day and can remember the speed of the build and can understand why the main services need to be reconstructed.

Hopefully Mr Boyes will take more notice of his surroundings when he next visits the market and looks up to the roof from ground level.

He may then change his mind and decide it’s not quite the wart that he refers to.

Arthur Ramsden, Ramsdens Fish, Kirkgate Market

High spending on roof work

The council recently sent a gang of sub-contracted scaffolders to a house near me.

They put up a scaffold from one end of the house to the other which took two men five hours to complete – all to put on one ridge tile.

Three weeks later, the scaffolding is still up and the tile is still off.

I’m not surprised Leeds City Council have no money.

F Lennon, Beeston

Hilary Benn is better than dad

I take issue with Malcolm Nicholson’s view of the offspring of Labour politicians (YEP, August 11). Not all of them should be tarred with the same brush.

Hilary Benn is an excellent constituency MP for Leeds Central and was an even better minister in the last Labour Government.

He’s also far and away a better politician than his aristocrat father, Tony.

Mel Smart, Farsley

Problems with healthy recipes

WHENEVER I tune into a ‘healthy eating’ cookery programme, it’s with the hope of finding some good recipes.

But unless you have a window sill full of fresh herbs, a variety of vinegars, various low fat ingredients and an expensive pestle and mortar, there’s no chance.

Mavis Harrison, Leeds

Two weeks for term time hols

The time to settle the pros and cons of taking family holidays in school term times is long overdue.

The lower cost of holidays at these times is often quoted as being a major factor for parents.

But while it’s certainly a consideration, the powers that be seem incapable of appreciating the fact that many employees can only take holidays in order of seniority or on the grounds of practicality.

This is the case with the police, fire brigade and other service industries.

In order to partly solve this problem, how about allowing a grace period of two weeks each year?

This would mean parents wouldn’t have to suffer draconian consequences for breaking what appears to be a ridiculous and inconsiderate rule, which delivers fines for those who can least afford them.

Recent cases quoted fines of over £200. It smacks once again of George Orwell’s Big Brother. Where will it all end?

Ernest Lundy, Beeston

Adel Church, Leeds

YEP Letters: April 28