YEP Letters: December 2

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Is it not strange that Sheffield manages to spend £300,000 on renovating a sports stadium, £18 million on a new market and thousands on a botanical garden, yet Leeds – supposedly more prosperous – neglects the Temple Newsam track, reluctantly commits £1.5m for next year on its historic market and can only run to a couple of crocodiles at Tropical World?

Further out of orbit; Manchester borrows £500m from the EU to extend its tramway, yet evidently manages to maintain its levels of public service and staffing.

We must make millions per year from retail rents, business rates and council tax, yet constantly contemplate cuts (eg bin collections, street lighting etc).

We should urgently enquire about other cities’ management strategies and priorities and their negotiating methods and tactics.

Further I propose we journey to the planet Manupitor, to collect samples of gold-dust and learn how they survive the showers of notes and their magnetic funding-field.

Paul Kilroy, Leeds 16

Memories of Max’s early life

Thought you might be interested to hear of Max’s early life before he became a Golden Acre Park icon.

He was born in 1998. We already had a pair of cats, but as they were approaching the end of their days we wanted another two as well for our young daughters to ‘pet’.

Max and his sister Millie came to us via the Cats Protection League from a litter in a house in Butcher Hill. Amusingly, their mother Nelson had been assumed to be a neutered male!

The pair of them were delightful from their arrival and lived happily with our other two existing residents. Around late 2002 Max disappeared and we feared the worst, only for him to return safe and sound after a few days away.

This pattern of disappearing and returning continued over the next few months, but increasingly with him away for much longer periods and spending only brief time back with us. Once we were contacted by some people at Golden Acre who found him wandering there and I went to fetch him back.

We live in Holt Park so his journeys to and fro were about a mile each way. It soon became clear that he preferred to live in the park rather than with us, and at this stage we became acquainted with Alistair Muir, the gardener, who advised us of Max’s alternative life.

So, since 2003 he lived in Golden Acre, chasing rabbits in his early days, but latterly just posing in his greenhouse.

We visited him regularly and like to think he remembers us, albeit he was probably just as friendly to one and all. A lovely creature.

We appreciated reading the earlier article on him as well as your ‘obituary’. We had heard from Alistair’s wife of his demise and all the family and various friends were sad, but also happy for the old boy.

For the record his sibling Millie died a year ago. Very sadly missed. And you may recall that my daughter sent you a picture of Max and Millie circa 1999 at the time of your previous piece.

Thanks for an enjoyable article which provoked many fond memories.

Bruce Hetherington, Holt Park Grange, LS16

Hypocritical on benefits abuse

I am watching a news item about Cameron saying that people in the expected tidal wave of immigration about to engulf us from, for example, Romania will not be allowed to abuse our benefits system.

Strange that, given there have been three separate documentaries recently about one English family who have been living on benefits for over 10 years, living in a knocked through council house.

They’re proud of it, apparently. Yet nobody, such as the DWP or the local JobcentrePlus, seems to do anything about these “celebrities”. Just like they do nothing about the people who live around me, who haven’t done a day’s work in six years but can afford to buy two carrier bags worth of lager every day and expensive “street” style clothing, trainers at least £90 a pair for example! The word hypocritical comes to mind.

R Kimble, by email

Funding boost for NEETs

I write regarding the recent Government funding announcements that will help to tackle the problem of young people not in employment education or training (NEETs) and that will boost facilities and opportunities at a popular Leeds college.

Firstly there was news that the Leeds City Region has been granted £4.6m to help create 1,000 jobs for young people aged 18-24 in our region. This was followed by another boost with £8.9m of Government funding allocated to Leeds City College’s £9.9m scheme to improve their Printworks site on Hunslet Road.

These funding boosts will really help us tackle the problems of youth unemployment and inactivity and show that the Government has a continuing commitment to young people and children in Leeds.

The funding for Leeds City College will help them build on the good work they already do. It will boost vocational skills training to deliver employment opportunities in fields as varied as engineering and hair and beauty. It is really important that young people can access courses that offer a real prospect of employment and this funding will help Leeds deliver that.

There are currently around 23,000 young people who are claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in our region, this is much too high and the £4.6m for the City Region will help to tackle those that have been out of work the longest and who need more support to fulfil their potential.

We have gone through a difficult time economically in recent years but as the economy recovers, it is exactly this type of funding that will help young people take advantage of improved economic conditions and get the skills and training they need to succeed in the future.

Coun Alan Lamb, Shadow Executive Board Member for Children’s Services

Letter writers are in the know

WHEN I turn to Readers reaction, I am always reminded of a comment made by the late comedian George Burns.

He remarked “how is it that the people who know how to run the country are either barbers or taxi drivers?” I think in our case it is the people who write to the newspapers.

Mrs M Whitehead, 
Chapel Allerton

Dangers of plain packaging cigs

I HOPE HM Government takes a step back from the brink and considers very carefully before making any decision on compulsory ‘plain packaging’ of tobacco products, because a great many highly skilled and well paid jobs in printing as well as the viability of those companies depend on that business – some in Leeds itself.

Not just those putting ink to paper as it were, but the support services making gold blocking and embossing, carton forms etc would also be at risk.

People will always smoke, in spite of the health hazards being known for 50 years, or the very high taxation of cigarettes. etc.

Other social evils eg obesity, alcoholism or gambling, even payday loans don’t attract the same controversy over packaging or advertising of those products, yet do just as much or in some cases more harm, yet no one suggests plain white labels or boxes for beer, wines and spirits, burgers, fried chicken, pizzas etc.

Although a balance needs to be struck on public attitudes to smoking, maybe calls for plain packaging could do more harm than good, especially in economic terms across the whole of society.

D S Boyes, Rodley Lane, Leeds 13

YEP Letters: October 19