YEP Letters: March 23

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Free parking on grass verges?

Tony Skidmore, Leeds 17

I have become used to most dual carriageways in Leeds being reduced to one lane B-roads by inconsiderate parking, but have Leeds City Council now sanctioned free parking on grass verges?

What should appear as a an attractive, green separator of road and pavement, and a wistful reminder to urbanites that a concept called the countryside actually exists, now appears to be used solely as a facilitator for additional car parking. The result is that these once verdant strips of pasture, which, I imagine, are supposed to be contractually maintained by the council, are now generally reduced to a muddy morass, with never, as far as I can determine, any action being taken against the vehicle owners. Should we therefore be entitled to a rebate on our council tax?

Homes decision shows contempt for residents

Coun Robert Finnigan, Morley North, Leader of the Morley Borough Independent Group.

The decision made by Leeds City Council last week to agree 550 housing units on a greenfield site at Laneside Farm in Churwell shows what contempt the Labour controlled administration has for local residents.

Despite 1000 objections from local residents and opposition from the local MP Andrea Jenkyns, Morley Town Council and all Morley North Ward councillors – Labour councillors alone backed a wealthy developer rather than backing the Churwell community.

The planning report confirmed that the junction of Elland Road and the ring road was already congested and overloaded and couldn’t cope with the additional traffic generated by this site.

The report also confirmed that Morley primary schools were also unable to take the children generated by the site and proposed that they were sent to primary schools in Beeston. And Labour still voted it through! Although there were good reasons to refuse this application, Labour councillors backed Persimmons – who made over £350 million profit last year – and rejected community concerns. To their credit the Conservative, Lib Dem, Green and MBI councillors voted to oppose this development but the Labour Party backed the party line.

What are we to make of this decision? It is clear that the Labour Party is crammed full of synthetic socialists who prefer to back wealthy developers instead of those who are on much lower incomes.

It is also clear that Labour controlled Leeds City Council are happy to get Morley residents to pay even higher council tax bills while dumping overdevelopment on them, shutting Siegen Manor and cutting the finance for policing in Morley. Perhaps it is time for Morley to look at extracting itself from Leeds City Council and running its own affairs!

Credit goes to my MBI colleagues and the local MP Andrea Jenkyns for a secondary campaign to restrict the development to 240 housing units pending the provision of a new primary school for Churwell and highways improvements to reduce congestion on the ring road. Leeds City Council have confirmed they do not have the cash (or in my view the inclination) to provide this new school or resolve the congestion problem so we will be gearing up yet again to campaign to deliver a new primary school for Churwell children and improved highways that the community clearly deserves.

Council getting above itself

Ivan Kovacks, by email

So our wonderful Leeds City Council is getting above itself again, what a surprise! They are calling a proposed development of a mixed housing, leisure and commercial in the south Leeds area as ‘elitist’ just because the developers do now want to include any affordable housing.

This on top of the desire to limit fast food outlets near schools, potentially imposing charges on diesel cars coming in to the city and providing computers for deserving citizens. What a nerve, it’s just like telling Rolls Royce that one in 50 cars should be sold at £50K, and no government be it local or national would impose restrictions like these on any other trader.

These are just some examples of how local and national governments wish to micro manage our lives. I’m a big supporter of social housing and feel it is a good national institution but if governments want it providing then it is up to them to supply it in the form of greater council housing.

I know this shortage was started under a Conservative government when they allowed the sale of council houses, I believe this was opposed by Labour, but then they had nearly 20 years in power to stop it but as ever they did nothing to support the deserving. I’ve worked all my life and paid tax and council tax to help provide accommodation for those who need help in affording it so why will the council not take any action themselves? Is it perhaps because so many Labour councillors are not paying their own council tax? What hypocrisy.

MPs should focus on those they represent

John Appleyard, Liversedge

When Ed Miliband was leader of the Labour Party he frequently accused George Osborne of being a part time Chancellor of the Exchequer.

News that Osborne is to become the editor of the London Evening Standard makes you wonder how he can find the time to serve his constituents as an MP, a former editor of the London Evening Standard claimed he worked an 80-100 hour week.

This moonlighting of jobs in Parliament is nothing new. Boris Johnson was serving as Mayor of London when he became MP in 2015, not to mention his £275,000 a year pay for writing a column for the Daily Telegraph, which he called chicken feed.

Sir Nicholas Soames, Tory grandee and grandson of Winston Churchill, an MP since 1983, tried to block the introduction of a £3.60 minimum wage in 1998, whilst holding senior positions at four businesses, it was said at the time he was earning up to £11 per minute of work.

This is the tip of the iceberg, 303 MPs and 493 peers have outside earnings, they may not have broken any laws, but it can’t be right that these elected representatives are not giving 100 per cent effort to those they deem to represent.

Take steps to tackle loneliness

Tompion Platt, Head of Policy and Communications, Living Streets

We need to take steps to tackle loneliness and walking is a great place to start (‘The hidden epidemic amongst older people’, YEP March 21).

Loneliness suppresses our immune system, knocks years off our life and is associated with poor mental health.

Walking helps with feelings of depression and anxiety, with 71 per cent of people experiencing a decrease in levels of depression after going for a walk, and creates opportunities for people to engage with their community.

A legacy of designing our towns and cities around cars has made our streets less welcoming places to walk and spend time, reducing opportunities for social interaction and adding to feelings of loneliness. Older people are also more likely to be restricted from walking in their local area because of barriers, such as pavement parking, uneven paving, and street clutter. It’s National Walking Month in May, and also the time when local elections take place and a number of city-regions elect a mayor for the first time; now’s the time to get future city leaders to commit to creating walking towns and cities across the UK. Walkable neighbourhoods can help strengthen our communities and tackle loneliness. It’s about time we started to build our cities around people, not cars.

Balancing the books

Judy Goodwin, Altofts

Like all chancellors before him, Philip Hammond is of the mindset that the only way to balance the books is to tax the people of the UK more.

The answer to his problems is right under his nose, unelected quangos cost up to £98 billion a year, the bloated bureaucracy in Whitehall, the health service and local government could be culled, but like those before him he will never do this as most of them represent jobs for the boys. And of course let’s not forget the vanity project that is HS2 that only MPs want.

He could balance the books at a stroke if he had the guts to do it.

YEP Letters: September 23