YEP Letters: August 20

Blackpool, 2nd October 1968

Labour Party Conference.

Miss Alice bacon MP replying for the government in the education debate.

Blackpool, 2nd October 1968 Labour Party Conference. Miss Alice bacon MP replying for the government in the education debate.

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Not all destined for life down pits

Ron Munton, Normanton

Re Rachel Reeves comments regarding former Leeds MP Alice Bacon and the poor opportunities for boys in Normanton who failed their 11-plus exams.

The children attending Normanton Secondary Modern School were given second chances to attend other schools. Three of my friends later attended Whitwood Technical College at Castleford and later had successful careers. In the late 1930s, there were several large engineering firms in Wakefield and Normanton boys could find apprenticeships, and other jobs there, as well as at local authorities. By no means were all boys destined for life down the pits. Incidentally I attended Normanton Grammar School from 1939, and a large proportion of the boys there were sons of miners.

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Cycle highway more like white elephant

Clive Newsome, Harrogate.

IN the last year I have watched (and endured) with interest the construction of the so-called cycle superhighway from Leeds to Bradford.

I am writing from the standpoint of a cyclist who has now cycled well over 300,000 miles all over Europe and continue to cycle to work two to three days in the week via Ilkley, Guiseley and Kirkstall.

I had assumed that the powers-that-be knew what they were doing and would consult with cyclists such as myself to get feedback prior to spending millions of pounds (over £30m I hear) to create an unusable crazily designed cycle road for people who do not cycle.

Although the scheme looked to me ‘as mad as a box of frogs,’ I thought I would give the benefit of doubt to the myriad of builders and designers organising the construction.

I assumed they would know what they were doing, clearly not.

I work in Bramley and have a good knowledge of the number of people who cycle along Stanningley Road.

You can count the number normally on one hand in a whole day, it is just not going to be used.

However, the cycle lane has fundamental flaws. There are cycle traps/dangers everywhere – kerbs, narrow sections, cars stopping and starting, cars in the way, shop furniture, sections missing, street furniture, junctions, incomprehensible directions, pedestrians. I can go on and on. The whole thing is utterly and truly impractical.

Cars joining Stanningley Road do not see the cycle lane as part of the road and pull right up to the main road, completely ignoring the fact that cycles will run straight into the side.

How does a cyclist turn right? He has to stop and push across two lanes of traffic rather than indicating right pulling over and simply turning right as normal. A dangerous and ludicrous situation.

I have consulted quite a number of cycling colleagues, all they wanted was a clearly identified cycle lane which was smooth, ideally painted a different colour with a dashed line separating from the main carriageway that clearly identified to other road users that cyclists are present.

This could have been done at a fraction of the cost and would have saved this dangerous and unnecessary debacle.

I suppose it is too late now to do anything about it (ideally remove it and go back to simple cycle lanes) but for God’s sake Leeds and Bradford, please, please, please consult the cycling public prior to building any more white elephants.

Keep it simple, clean and clear that is all we ask.

Housing crisis nothing new

DS Boyes, Leeds 13

THE present housing crisis is nothing new in Leeds, only the scale of it.

My parents, married in World War Two could have been homeless in 1946 when dad returned from overseas service, but for kindly relatives allowing us to share their three-bed council home which with four adults and three children was very overcrowded. Then though, social housing was the lifeline, with the offer of a Quarry Hill flat in 1948 by Leeds Corporation quite a prize!

But today as Councillor P Gruen says, the right to buy and other restrictions has decimated social housing provision, plus the other half of Mrs Thatcher’s double whammy, assured shorthold tenancies, took away most of the rights previously enjoyed by tenants in the private sector condemning them to the buy-to-let jungle of today.

That so many potential new homes, i.e. with extant planning permission are not being built is down to the greed of developers who prefer only to build executive houses to order, rather than affordable ones on a speculative basis which might bring prices down.

Although many young people today have neither the wages nor job security needed to buy anyway.

Also, years ago many of these with mental and/or physical disability were cared for by institutions like Meanwood Park or Menston etc, those also closed by Mrs Thatcher, replaced largely again by expensive executive style homes. Care in the community something of a failure.

But the biggest problem affecting housing is the uncontrolled population growth fuelled by legal immigration, from the EU plus the illegals.

Unless stability returns, no government or local authority can plan for effective future housing provision - as even if Leeds built on every bit of green space left, including Roundhay Park etc, there would never been enough homes.

A couch potato culture

Terry Maunder, Kirkstall

May’s government stands accused of avoiding confronting certain business practices that contribute to obesity by not clamping 
down on promotional activities.

This is not surprising on the part of Tories who also avoid/sidestep criticism by stating they don’t want to tell people how to live.

We live in a couch potato culture in which there are people who do need to be told how to live.

I see children being taken to school every day with crisps and fizzy drinks in their hands for breakfast: apparently one in three obese children will die young as adults.

These parents (who are frequently obese themselves) need leadership not indulgence.

The gap between the current and future cost of obesity to the NHS is seriously higher than the investment in services.

Sociologists argue that the obesity “epidemic” tag is just demonising a vulnerable group of people in order to blame them for this problem and not politicians.

They are thus stigmatised in the same way mentally ill people are but the stigma often leads to an increase in the “deviant” behaviour (the so-called self-fulfilling prophesy).

Psychologists focus on self esteem issues.

If there is truly a social problem then May, Hunt et alia need to be proactive about people with the problem and not let businesses off the hook for their part in it.

More judicious spending is the answer

David Johnson, by email

So the government expresses concern about the rise in obesity in the young people of the UK,

The NHS are forecasting spending £1bn in treating diabetes which can be attributed to obesity and Wakefield district has been identified as one of the highest percentage of the population with poor diet, high obesity levels and health problems.

So what do Messrs. Box and Co do, they withdraw the wellbeing funding given to the NHS South Western Area NHS Trust which has the direct effect of making 39 people directly responsible for improving the health education of people with dietary problems, be at risk of redundancy.

Please councillors involved don’t trot out the usual mantra and clap trap about this being due to government spending cuts at the 
council.

Maybe more judicious spending of available funding is the answer, and not some prestigious projects such as the Pontefract/Skinner Lane link road, known locally as the ‘Road to Nowhere’, the Eastern Link road in Wakefield and the depositing of plant pots in Carlton Street.

Perhaps they should consider the merging of district wards, thus reducing the number of councillors needed as one way of saving money?

YEP Letters: April 26