YEP Letters: February 18

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Check out today’s YEP letters.

Utter folly to withdraw free bus passes

John Collins, Alwoodley

Nick Keer (Your Feedback, February 14) still pursues his campaign against bus passes for the elderly.

However, his argument is wrong.

Free bus travel for the elderly was one of the very few beneficial reforms introduced by the Labour government.

First, it was a tremendous benefit to the old, particularly to those who are partially disabled.

It gave them a reason for getting out and about, reduced loneliness, the great burden of old age, and led many to a more healthy lifestyle.

As well as reducing the load on the health service, it benefits the least well-off far more than the wealthy, because the well-off scarcely ever use the buses.

And, as it does not involve the payment of money or a means test, it is comparatively inexpensive to administer.

But the benefits are even wider, because free travel encourages many to leave their cars at home and travel to shopping and leisure activities by bus.

Not only does this mean more parking spaces for those who really need them, but there is an environmental impact of less vehicle pollution.

The bus companies are enabled to continue to run services which would otherwise be uneconomic, which helps us all, but particularly rural communities.

It would be utter folly to withdraw free bus passes.

Such a retrograde step would undoubtedly involve more loss and damage than could possibly be saved.

Mr Keer suggests a small charge. We have seen what happens with that, on the rail service.

It started as just a small charge and within a few years most of the benefits disappeared.

Further, the cost of administering the service if a host of small payments had to be accounted for would far exceed any benefit.

His idea is unrealistic, quite apart from its impact on those – and there are many of them – for whom every pound is needed.

‘Oyster cards for North’ plea

Wanda Kennington, Chapel Allerton

With reference to the letter from Nick Keer (Your Feedback, February 14), over 60s who live in London get Oyster cards which enable them to travel free on buses, trams, tube and some trains.

If this privilege can be given to Londoners, then why can’t us northerners also be given this?

In Leeds, the bus pass is not issued until the state pension is being received, which in most cases is a lot older than 60.

Invidious zero hours contracts

Louis Kasatkin, Wakefield

Of all the injustices being visited upon the electorate during this seemingly unending period of government-induced austerity, zero hours contracts and their proliferation as supported by the major parties is perhaps the most invidious.

Zero hours contracts are a desperate and amoral strategy designed to maximise the impoverishment and destitution of the increasing numbers of people becoming dependent upon them.

Terms and conditions of employment which would once have been deemed unacceptable in the third world are now the norm in our country.

When slavery was the economic issue of the day 200 years ago, tinkering with it and appeasing the slave owners in industry did not get slavery abolished.

Neither will tinkering with zero hours contracts nor schmoozing with the rapacious profiteering staffing agencies rid us of this present day social evil.

‘Vast’ future for our great cities

Councillor Andrew Carter, Leader of the Conservative Group, Leeds City Council

WITH the recent Core Cities meeting in Glasgow and the Government giving clear indications that the devolution of fiscal powers is very much on the agenda there is a real opportunity for a ‘vast’ new future for England’s great cities.

Over the years there have been models doomed to failure such as John Prescott’s plans for regional assemblies.

This, of course, follows on from the virtual destruction of reasonable dialogue between the government and big city local government brought about by the ‘loony left’ in the 1980s.

Now time has moved on. The deal agreed by the Government with Manchester is quite obviously economically sensible based on the view that taxpayers’ money raised centrally is better when it is then spent locally.

The Government’s deals are incremental, in other words, with money and political decision making comes the need for this to be gradually introduced and based on demonstrable success.

There is, however, one fly in the ointment. In some parts of big local government there is still something clearly ‘rotten’, Rotherham being the most recent example.

Like it or not, when fiscal devolution takes place there has to be a new model of elected public accountability which ensures that not only is there strong and capable administration, but strong and capable opposition to hold to account those who will then have been entrusted with billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.

OAP’s poignant father appeal

Maurice Ramsay, Wiltshire

May I please make a plea for information?

My mother, father, brother and I lived at 33 Throstle Grove (now demolished) in Middleton until 1937 when my mother left my father, Edward Ramsay.

Ever since the early 1950s I have hunted for information regarding Edward ‘Ted’ Ramsay, who was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on August 14, 1893.

He was a boilermaker/riveter and later in life a steeplejack. He died in St George’s Hospital, Rothwell on January 26, 1977 and his death was informed by Edna Leonard.

His last address was 24 Kelsall Terrace, Kirkstall.

I have spent most of my life on and off trying to find my father when he was alive and any item of information, no matter how small, about him since his death.

I am now almost 81 so time is running out.

I therefore make this heartfelt appeal to anyone who knew him or anything about him to, please, contact me via the YEP.

It would mean a tremendous amount to me.

YEP Letters: July 21