YEP Letters: March 1

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Benefit change will hit the vulnerable

Mervyn Jones, Chief Executive, Yorkshire Housing, Leeds

I’m writing to express our deep concern about the hardship that will hit vulnerable people if the government goes ahead with a change in housing benefit.

It recently announced a cap on housing benefit paid to tenants in social housing. Under current proposals, the cap would apply to some of the most vulnerable people we house.

These groups include elderly people, homeless veterans and victims of domestic violence. If applied to these people, the cap would have a devastating effect on their housing.

According to the National Housing Federation, this change would hit vulnerable people by an average of £68 a week and at least 82,000 homes for these groups would be forced to close.

In our own organisation as many as 1,300 older people living in sheltered housing and 260 people needing specialist support on account of learning disabilities, mental health issues, young people leaving care, and victims of domestic violence, will lose a total of £2m each year. A total of 175 of our vulnerable customers live in the Leeds area.

We understand that the government needs to make savings but, in reality, this would be an own goal, simply increasing the burden on the public purse as these people seek more costly provision in the private sector.

We urge the government to clarify that this is not the case and that these schemes can be saved.

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Devolution deal awaited

Lionel Pyrah, by email

It was recently reported in the Yorkshire Evening Post that ‘despite continued wrangling over a devolution agreement’, government officials now regard a mayoral election in May 2017 as a distinct possibilty.

This news, whilst no doubt being welcomed with cautious optimism by many, might, in my view, give rise to a dilemma, namely the choice of area over which any future mayor would preside. So, with apologies to Goldilocks, there appear to be three contenders in the ring - West Yorkshire (too small); Greater Yorkshire (too large), and Leeds City Region (just right). Unfortunately, party politics may eventually muddy the waters sufficiently to leave the city of Leeds with only a supporting role if the opportunity to adopt the LCR model is missed - unlike Sheffield and Manchester, who are continuing to steam ahead with their respective projects.

Indeed, Sheffield has apparently not even considered the Greater Yorkshire model, preferring instead to ‘capture’ parts of north Derbyshire and north Nottinghamshire to expand their own city region.

Moreover, in regard to city regions, it is perhaps worth remembering that London became such an area in all but name following the creation of the 32-borough Greater London Council in 1963.

With respect to the Greater Yorkshire proposal, let us be clear, Greater London and Greater Manchester are huge urban areas; Greater Yorkshire, even with West Yorkshire included, is largely rural.

It would be foolish, however, to think that the White Rose county beyond its city regions would be allowed to wither on the vine by the government in the event of a city region or combined authority option being ultimately selected.

As for best practice, the Yorkshire public as a whole has the right to expect the correct decision to be reached by its elected representatives using common sense over banner-waving as a first principle.

Furore over superhighway

Vernon Wood, by email

Oh dear. I fear your correspondent Jane Dawson has got her biking knickerbockers in a twist over the so-called “cycle superhighway” (‘Cycling for Normal People’ - YEP February 24).

It seems Jane sees herself elegantly astride a sit-up-and-beg bike, casually free-wheeling around her village boutiques, shopping for trendy knick-knacks to pop into her wicker handlebar basket before super-highwaying her way home.

But oops - hold it. She suddenly remembers that huge hill between here and there and decides the only answer is one of those new-fangled electric bikes. That’s right, the £2000 models.

Wrong Jane. You can’t take a powered bike onto that £30 milion cycleway because it’s a M-O-T-O-R bike.

So rather than villify and dismiss all those “negative, dismal, complaining people with no vision” (such as myself), you may care to join us and address the following question to Leeds Council: “Why are you spending over £90,000 on each and every one of the 350 commuting bikers who currently ride the Seacroft-Leeds-Bradford route?”

You’ll be very lucky to get a reply. It seems all the officers and spokespersons involved in this furore have lost their tongues, gone on leave or into hiding to cover their embarrassment.

Next nonsensical project? Surely, the jolly old trolley-blunder-bus. (By the way Jane, I didn’t peddle my bike. I pedalled it for around 50,000 miles, 60-70 years ago).

The state of the European union

Ernest Lundy, by email

Whatever one thinks about our being in or out of the EU, after the referendum has presumably decided the issue, and the dust has settled, it is an unalterable truth that the Union has created a European shambles, and we are having to pay a tremendous price for participating, both sociably and economically.

While admitting the idea was good in embryo, the implications of open borders and the effect it could have on the people of the countries involved was never thought out.

Those who suggested the idea in the first place should have remembered the old slogan: ”Look before you leap.”

They did not and we are now suffering the consequences; the proletariat the most.

No amount of prevarication is of any use now, we shall just have to wait and see.

But will the final vote be conclusive and carried out?

Myths about the EU

Alan Slomson, by email

Some opponents of the EU seem to be fond of misleading the public by making statements that, on checking, prove to be misleading or down right lies.

Brian Day (letters, February 27) seem to have fallen into the trap of believing one of their fictions when he says that “the EU’s books have not be signed off for 20 years because of corruption.”

This is not true. The European Court of Auditors have signed off the EU’s for all recent years up to 2014, the latest year for which accounts are available.

This fact can easily be checked by going to their website www.eca.europa.eu.

If there are good reasons for leaving the EU, it should not be necessary to support the case by peddling myths.

Too much traffic on roads

Darren Collins, by email

when will our politicians realise this country is full?

Not just in Leeds but in other cities too, this problem will just get worse.

I struggle to park in my street, at work I have to park half a mile away from work. It’s so frustrating.

It’s simple, there’s too much traffic on the roads. It’s only a matter of time before traffic around our cities will become totally gridlocked.

YEP Letters: August 18