YEP Letters: February 21

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WITH REGARD to the editorial ‘Prolific burglar is an argument for throwing away the key’ on February 12, I am disappointed that the Yorkshire Evening Post is calling into question the performance of the Probation Service without knowing the facts.

As someone sentenced to fewer than 12 months in prison, Alex Owens was not being supervised by probation at the time of his offence. The re-offending rates for those not supervised by probation are the highest of all and are increasing in contrast with West Yorkshire Probation which has reduced re-offending by 15% since 2005. There is resounding agreement that extending probation support to offenders serving short sentences is a great idea.

In addition the Probation Service is working closely in partnership with the police to tackle burglaries and having incredible success as your paper rightly highlighted (February 13) under the headline ‘Cracking crime in no time’.

Rather than throwing away the key and consigning offenders to prisons where, as your editorial points out, there is no rehabilitation support, shouldn’t we be utilising the skills and expertise of the Probation Service which has consistently reduced re-offending over time?

One great example of this is Steven Ellis, who also featured on page 17 on February 12 (‘Cash boost to support the vulnerable). Steven had also been in and out of prison, but thanks to support in prison and from Probation and partner agencies, he has gone on to study art and is supporting other offenders to turn their lives round, winning a national Butler Trust Award in the process. Surely this is the model we want to follow where offenders are supported to turn their backs on crime and become extremely valuable community members rather than being locked up at the taxpayers’ expense?

The Leeds Prolific Offender Team, West Yorkshire Probation Service, Leeds

There’ll be no green space left

IT SEEMS everywhere you turn, new houses are being built or planned. Many are to be built on green fields, yet we are often told we have thousands of unused Council properties in the Leeds area alone.

In my local area and Leeds 14 and 15 generally, we have seen housing developments large and small increasingly mushrooming in recent years.

Currently, near the old Barnbow site on the edge of Crossgates, two new estates are being built and it seems a further 500 homes are already planned for the site. On the A64 towards Scholes and Thorner a start has been made on another very large estate.

There are plans too in the Redhall/Wetherby Road area for a large development. Scholes village itself is earmarked for hundreds of new houses just in the first phase of development, plus others to follow in both Scholes and nearby villages.

It seems everywhere is being earmarked for unprecedented development. In a few years time will there be any green space left between Crossgates, Scholes, Thorner, Barwick and Aberford? These are just the developments I can see locally but I am sure plenty of readers will also be concerned about their own areas too. It seems we are heading for one mass urban sprawl. Oh, how the developers must be rubbing their hands - but at what cost?

Carol A Gannon (Mrs), Flats Lane, Barwick in Elmet

We need skilled workforce

THE UK economy is just starting to recover, at least in the short term. The lesson has been learned that the economy up to 2008 was out of balance under Labour, depending entirely on the financial sector than anywhere else - except Switzerland.

An imbalance remains, that most jobs seem to appear in the overcrowded South East, and the Government again allowing an increase in household borrowing and rising house prices to generate the usual ‘feel good’ factor.

If economic confidence is slowly growing, there is also a fundamental anomaly in the labour market, that may explain why most people in work don’t feel better off. While unemployment falls, so does output, and hence in real terms, so do incomes.

Outside the financial sector, the UK is heading toward becoming a low wage, low skills, low productivity economy. But there are plenty there already - China, India etc - having to compete with those is a ‘race to the bottom’ - not a promising prospect.

It is not so much a higher minimum wage that the economy needs, as fewer people on it, that is to say, more people with skills 
that add high value to the product.

Britain should learn from Germany - better vocational training geared to industry. Too often employers lament the failure of our educational system preparing the young for the discipline of the world of work.

The bottom quarter of these could be virtually unemployable, and that is not good enough in any recovery.

Brian Johnston, Rigton Drive, Burmantofts

Please clear out street drains

I HOPE someone from Leeds City Council’s can explain why street drains are never cleaned out.

During heavy rain street drains overflowed due to blockages. Where are the machines? Are they locked away somewhere?

J Shedlow, Fir Tree Vale, Moortown

Valentine’s Day card woes

Valentine’s Day!

A card came through my letter box. On it was written “Unfortunately, we can’t deliver your item because there is a fee to pay. The sender did not pay the full postage. Payment due £1.19. Ref red card”.

I did not collect it.

Oh! Unkind Post Office!

Sandra Morris, Highmoor Close, Moortown

Call for ban on smoking in cars

I AM writing about the subject of smoking in cars again.

I heard recently on the BBC news that smoking in cars was not as dangerous as eating in cars. Well, I totally disagree with this comment.

When people smoke their breathing changes, they can go faint and it affects the brain and thinking ability and can also cause coughing fits which is a distraction.

I say get it banned!

Mrs J Thornton, Church Street, Whitby

A betrayal of local interests

THE DECISION to use a Manchester recruitment agency to appoint an overseer at West Yorkshire’s Transport Council is a disgraceful self-indictment and a betrayal of local interests.

How disappointing then, to note the endorsement from a man of Coun Carter’s stature.

I can only think it was due to inter-council rivalry and opposition to the otherwise likely prospect of a Leeds company being chosen.

As for the defence that it constitutes “best value” any payment to a West Yorkshire firm would have been ‘in-house.’

We are, instead, oiling the wheels of the enemy’s chariot.

What if their candidates are unacceptable, unsuitable or insufficient in number? Are they still paid? Then paid for a re-run?

Would Councillor Carter advertise a Civic Hall post through a Lancashire agency if it were cheaper?

Paul Kilroy, Spennithorne Avenue, Leeds

Leeds, Briggate, 5th December 1971

pedestrian crossing.

YEP Letters: June 24