THE argument on elected mayors has surfaced again with George Osborne’s comments about a possible ‘Boris Johnson for Leeds’ (YEP, August 6).
There is an important constitutional aspect of the debate.
If one has an executive mayor, one has to have a legislature to maintain the democratic balance.
This exists in London but would not exist in Leeds or elsewhere.
If an elected mayor is simply grafted on to the present structure it would be a recipe for frustration and stagnation.
The real problem is the loss of powers in local government and this will not be resolved with some electoral sleight of hand.
In 1948, Leeds City Council was responsible for gas, electricity, transport, water, St James’s Hospital, most social security, all further and some higher education, as well as the police, ambulance and fire services.
All of these have been taken away over the past 60 years. Is it any wonder more people of talent and skill do not stand for election?
Among many highly effective civic leaders over the decades, men such as John Hope Shaw, Sir Charles Wilson, the Rev Charles Jenkinson and Sir Frank Marshall had no need to be elected mayors to accomplish great changes for the benefit of Leeds.
Let us confine the question of elected mayors to the huge issue of the city region and how we can have a democratic body for the whole county of Yorkshire.
After all, it has a greater population than Wales or Scotland and just as much identity.
Michael Meadowcroft, Honorary Alderman, City of Leeds
Give creditors some protection
I NOTE that creditors, more than 100 of them, were owed £900,000 at the time of the collapse of social enterprise restaurant Create (YEP, August 12).
What mystifies me is how they found 114 unsecured creditors, let alone borrowed from them.
Even companies such as British Gas, Yorkshire Water and British Telecom, as well as food and drink suppliers such as Lishmans, Delifresh and Ilkley Brewery were on this rollercoaster wave of loans relating to a company that was founded in 2011 to provide disadvantaged people with work and training opportunities.
As usual, none of these creditors will receive even a penny back.
Is there any chance that our legal system could fund a scheme that would offer some protection to even 50 per cent of today’s creditors?
Or would that be detrimental to their profits?
AE Hague, Harehills
Quality homes for older people
The letter from Michael Voges of the Associated Retirement Community Operators, in which he criticises the ‘lack’ of planning for housing for older people in Leeds (YEP, August 19), grossly misrepresents the council’s position.
The Strategic Housing Market Assessment to which he refers is the basis through which the district’s full housing needs, including those of older people, have been objectively assessed.
From this, a housing requirement for Leeds has been derived and subject to independent examination.
This sets out the overall scale, distribution and type of housing needed in the district.
It includes specific requirements for affordable housing, housing mix and homes for independent living – including the needs of elderly people and those with impaired mobility.
The council is proactively working with the development industry and housing providers to ensure that housing needs are met and welcomes planning applications that provide quality development in appropriate locations which help to meet the needs of elderly people.
It is also leading on a number of initiatives to deliver extra care and sheltered housing in the city.
If Mr Voges would like to make a visit to Leeds from his base in London, I would be more than happy to show him how we are working to provide high quality housing for older people.
Councillor Peter Gruen, Deputy Leader, Leeds City Council
Wilson has been underrated
I NOTE with great interest Royal Mail’s inclusion of Harold Wilson in its set of great Prime Ministers – and no Tony Blair.
I am glad his stature has been belatedly recognised. Yorkshire born and bred, he has not fared very well at the hands of historians, but I believe he has been under-rated.
It is necessary to consider the context of the era in which a Premier had to operate.
Wilson took over a divided party and restored its credibility with voters.
He was faced with intractable problems such as Northern Ireland, Rhodesia and the unions, not to mention the economy.
It is doubtful whether these were soluble at the time by anybody, at any rate from the left. Wilson introduced social reforms and the Open University, which has been a great success.
I am confident that with the perspective of history, his solid virtues will be increasingly recognised.
Don Burslam, Dewsbury
Let’s sit and wait for a GP
I read with interest Geoffrey Cantor’s recent letter about having to wait seven days for an appointment to see his GP (YEP, August 19).
Sadly, it seems nowadays that this can be an average wait.
I have heard of people having to wait two weeks or even longer for appointments.
On my last visit to my GP, I was told I could not be seen for several days.
So on advice from a local pharmacy I went to one of the walk-in centres.
I was seen and left with a prescription within half an hour.
Perhaps the answer is to go back to the old non-appointment system, where we simply turned up at the GP’s on a sit and wait basis.
You knew you would get to see the doctor, whether the wait was 20 minutes or two hours.
Alternatively, we should have more walk-in centres to alleviate the pressure on both GPs and the accident and emergency departments.
Carol Gannon, Barwick in Elmet
Join the Leeds Memory Walk
I AM writing on behalf of Alzheimer’s Society to invite readers to take part in Memory Walk – our charity’s biggest fundraising event.
This autumn, people all over the UK are putting on their walking shoes to raise money for people affected by dementia and their carers.
This year’s Leeds Memory Walk starts from Roundhay Park on September 6. With a gentle 2km walk or a more challenging 10km route to choose from, there is something on offer for everyone.
It is set to be a great day out for all the family with plenty of entertainment on offer, including live music, face painting and a children’s entertainer.
Walk with us to celebrate someone special, and to help fund research to find a cure once and for all.
To sign up to this year’s Leeds Memory Walk, please visit http://memorywalk.org.uk/leeds.
Ju Lee, Community Fundraiser, Alzheimer’s Society