YEP READERS will remember a few horrendous years when camps were popping up on playing fields and cricket pitches, spoiling planned events such as galas and rugby tournaments.
The city council is to be applauded for turning around an untenable situation inherited from the previous administration.
Leeds has become a beacon of good practice for managing unauthorised encampments which is now being emulated around the country from Kent to Cumbria. The ‘negotiated stopping’ programme has saved at least £100,000 and considerably reduced nuisance and anti-social behaviour associated with Gypsy and Traveller camps.
We all acknowledge that things are still not perfect and there is work still to do. But there is a problem and the looming election will potentially make it worse.
Negotiated stopping has developed a dialogue and mood of co-operation between local authority officers and families on the roadside camp. The families on the camps genuinely want to continue a peaceful way of life without causing undue distress to their fellow Leeds citizens. They don’t want to return to the old haphazard merry-go-around of camping in unsuitable locations and being rapidly evicted with no services.
Sadly, despite the admirable efforts of some within the council, someone is not playing ball. Why is it that our elected members cannot bear to ‘bite the bullet’ and accept tolerated, well managed, short term camps in their area? It is without a doubt because they believe that their electorate will not vote for them if they do. But is that correct? Leeds citizens have a choice. We can return to the bad old days, wasting money and enduring nuisance on our cricket pitches and rugby grounds, or we can accept that Gypsy and Traveller people are part of our community and find somewhere for them to go. You choose, and if you choose the latter, be sure to tell your local politician or, apparently, it just won’t happen.
Helen Jones, Chief Executive Officer, Leeds Gypsy and Traveller Exchange
Give wardrobe waste to Mind
FOLLOWING NEWS that vast amounts of ‘wardrobe waste’ is lurking in bedrooms across the country and £91m of clothes are binned after just one wear I am calling on readers to please support Mind’s Garforth shop.
We are always in need of good quality clothes, shoes and accessories and all donations to our shop will go to a worthwhile cause. Our shop relies on donations from the public to raise money for Mind, the mental health charity, which supports people experiencing mental health problems so they do not have to face things alone. Local people can help us to continue doing this by donating their unwanted but good quality items.
The shop is truly a community hub. It also supports people locally offering a safe environment for meeting people from the area.
Patricia Power, Mind, Main Street, Garforth
Party sponsor should be easy
I WAS outraged to read your story that Leeds City Council is considering scrapping the much-loved Party and Opera in the Park events.
It is claimed that axing these events will save the council £200,000 in the face of budget cuts. To put this amount into context, in 2014/15 the council will have a total revenue budget of £565m. City Development, the department which has responsibility for these events, has a proposed budget for 2014/15 of £107.7m. Of this, there is £256,000 allocated for ‘Consultancy Services’, or £345,000 for ‘Publication and Promotion’. £461,000 is allocated for ‘Travel Allowances’.
Whilst there is undoubted pressure on council budgets, for Cllr Wakefield to give the impression that these hugely popular events have to be scrapped because the council coffers are so bare that £200,000 simply cannot be found is hugely misleading.
I would also question how the council has failed to find commercial sponsors to help stage these events. Thousands of people from all over Leeds flock to these events; if the council cannot find sponsors who would be glad of this exposure there is something very wrong indeed.
As the politician formerly responsible for these events, I offered to help and find a way forward that would see both events retained and free of charge. In 2009 we had a combined crowd of 120,000 people over two days - they were so popular because they allowed people who would otherwise never experience opera, or could not afford to see top pop acts, to enjoy them on their doorstep for free.
These proposals will set back the cultural vibrancy of the city by 20 years.
Coun John Procter, Civic Hall, Leeds
What happened to thief’s dog?
THE OTHER week you reported about a woman who trained her dog to enter buildings in order that she could rob their residents; concluding with the fact she had been sentenced to 876 days in prison. There was no mention of the punishment of her accomplice. Has he/she been sentenced just to separation from his owner, for these 876 days, and where is he/she being lodged during this time?
Is the animal part of a larger pack, and been returned to the rest, or has it been rehomed? Or, God forbid, has the poor creature been sentenced to lose its life – all for being willing to obey its mistress.
Denise Marsden, Cookridge
Who gets the recycling cash?
Talking to a few friends the other day we were wondering were the money goes from the recycling that Leeds City Council gets from selling on waste paper, plastic, metal etc.
Does anybody know?
John O’Brien, by email
No shopping trips for killers
IT SEEMS to me and it must seem the same to other people, that we do not have laws in this country.
Why on Earth do we allow murderers out of prison on day release to go walkabout in Rochdale?
To me when someone gets a life sentence for murder life should be for life, not for a murderer to be released into the outside world for a day to go shopping. Serious criminals should be locked up and stay locked up as the safety of the public comes first.
Roger Watkinson, Oak Road, Leeds
Shortsighted crossing plans
ONCE AGAIN we see the shortsightedness of the decision makers of Leeds City Council in the construction of a pedestrian crossing in Upper Town Street in Bramley. The prospective users of this crossing will be the dog walkers who live on the north side of Town Street and little others.
Just east of the new crossing are two bus stops catering for intending passengers. Whoever they are, they will have to cross Town Street once a journey to avail themselves of the services. Do the “thinkers” on the panel believe that those people will walk 50 yards or more to cross the road at the new crossing? Why then do they jeopardise the safety of these people when the ideal position for the crossing would be in between the two bus stops? The prospective dog walkers, who are after all out for a walk, would be more liable to use that crossing than the bus passengers are to use the new one.
D Angood, by email
Stick Moyles in the stocks now
SO, CHRIS Moyles has been collared for pretending to be a used car salesman to avoid a large tax return. He should be made an example of. How about sticking him in the stocks outside Leeds Parish Church so people can chuck stuff at him?
Robert Dunn, Harrogate