WHILE I support the idea of cycle lanes/routes to promote safer cycling into towns (I possess two road bikes) the proposed cycle route between Leeds and Bradford is more likely to reduce the number of people cycling.
This is because the plan includes covering the towpath of the Leeds-Liverpool canal with tarmac all the way from Leeds to Shipley. This stretch of towpath is already used by hundreds of cyclists everyday because it provides an off-road (non-tarmac) alternative for people with All Terrain Bikes (ATBs) and Mountain Bikes (MTBs). Sales of cycles show that the majority of bicycles sold now are ATBs and MTBs rather than road bikes.
While a few short sections of the towpath are difficult for using a road bike on, these can be improved/repaired using man-made materials. Covering this extensive stretch of towpath with tarmac will cost millions of pounds at a time when local governments are facing savage cuts to their budgets (YEP, December 19) and a government block on £1bn to fund major transport projects (YEP, December 20). Using natural materials to improve the towpath could be done at a fraction of the cost.
If local authorities have got millions to spend on tarmac, why not use it to fill in potholes on the hundreds of quiet back roads so cyclists can ride safely throughout the area rather than spending this money on just one route that is already safe for cycling?
Laying tarmac along this stretch of towpath will also ruin it for the thousands of people who use it for off-road walking and running every week. Ironically “The Canals and Rivers Trust”– who are carrying out the re-surfacing – suggested people should use the canal towpath for walking over the festive period (YEP, December 19). Hypocrisy!
To avoid opposition to this scheme the public consultation was held a week before Christmas and was poorly advertised. Since the Canals and Rivers Trust had already decided how they were going to proceed with this work the ‘consultation was a “sham”. The work, which is due to begin in the New Year, should be halted until the public have a proper chance to air their views.
Martin J Phillips, Tinshill Lane, Cookridge
Too soft on those capable of work
SUCCESSIVE GOVERNMENTS have allowed generations of some families, despite being able-bodied, to remain idle at public expense, indefinitely, to the detriment of the country’s social fabric.
No one wants to return to the days of the draconian National Assistance Board, which demanded that claimants sell their personal possessions before they received a penny. But the pendulum has swung too far the other way. By all means be supportive to those genuinely in need but tough on those who are capable of work but wilfully decide to live a parasitic life on the dole.
Malcolm Nicholson, Barwick-in-Elmet
No incentive to report change
SO, Lord Freud is the most super-keen minister of late to tell all claimants that they must report changes in circumstances, however small. I feel that he could be shooting himself in the foot with this. I make this assumption for the following reason.
Wasn’t Iain Duncan Smith not so long ago exalting the virtues of the ongoing Universal Credit tapering system; the one where the more you begin to earn, the less you would need to claim? Thus far, I haven’t seen any cases of this system being put into place effectively or, for that matter, the proper implementation of the system. Many cases I have come across are of people taking jobs and being without benefit payments for weeks before they are paid. This hardly encourages honesty or incentive. If the increments of personal circumstance changes are small that they have to be reported, then pray, where are the incentives and does that not say Mr Duncan Smith is a trifle economic with the sincerity of his on-going universal revolution?
Kendal Wilson, (Leader of the UK Yorkshire Socialist Alliance), Wharfebank Terrace, Tadcaster
Use local shops, or lose them
IN REPLY to John of Rothwell’s letter (YEP, January 2) regarding model shops in Leeds I should point out that it is ultimately the consumer’s decision to close these down.
Whilst rent and rates are high in the city centre (not to mention parking charges) no shop would choose to close if it had the right footfall and turnover.
Having run a craft and hobby shop in the Merrion Centre now for nearly 25 years I have seen a definite change in people’s shopping habits. First the city centre was hit with large out-of-town shopping centres and secondly the internet.
Out-of-town shopping centres offer free parking in large open car parks, online you can generally get lower prices (due to lower overheads, no shop lifters to mention a few). Whilst large national retailers can easily offer both, niche independent retailers are the most vulnerable, especially to online shopping. Like all good retailers we embrace both, but there probably will come a point where a shop in the centre of Leeds becomes unviable.
Whilst the council do not help by charging high rates, higher parking fees and now Sunday parking fees, it is ultimately customers who decide which shops remain on our high street. Every time you shop online or visit an out-of-town shopping centre your high street pays the price. It may just be a tube of glue or a small tin of paint, but certainly in the current climate every sale matters.
Unless you want all the high streets to contain the same bargain shops, charity shops, and large chains (or just disappear altogether) you must regularly support your local independent retailers.
Andrew Haddock, Craft Wise, Merrion Centre, Leeds
Making time for family holidays
I agree with comments about school holidays (YEP, January 3) but I must enter this debate not as a parent but as a grandparent who annually with my wife, take our three grandchildren abroad for a week‘s holiday in the sun.
As pensioners we find it financially impossible to pay for a week‘s holiday within the school holidays. My daughter is a one-parent family and works very hard to keep the wolves from the door by having to hold down a full time job, not for holidays... but to survive.
My daughter is very lucky though. She can look forward to a two week holiday in a caravan at the East Coast with the kids in the school summer holidays (if it’s not raining). Education is wonderful but please don’t let us destroy the togetherness of a family holiday. Those memories stay with us all our lives – don’t they?
Name and address supplied
WHAT WONDERFUL news it is to learn that if elected next time around, the Conservative Government promises pension rises will equate to any cost of living increases, expected to be around 2 per cent. Big deal! But what about the shortfall which has resulted after similar statements in the past were never fulfilled? If the promises are attained this time, it could be said we will be getting an ‘Irishman’s rise’.
Ernest Lundy, by email
WHILST IT is the practice these days of many stores and supermarkets to play loud and sometimes quite unsuitable and distracting ‘muzak’, I applaud those responsible for the gentle and soft background music inside Leeds bus and coach station. If the intention was to calm passengers and subdue any unruly elements, it seems to be effective!
Mrs L Vorlicky, Moseley Wood Drive, Leeds