YEP Letters: November 20

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Harehills: visual pollution on a grotesque scale

Peter Turner, Harrogate

As a resident of Harrogate I have had to make the journey several times to St James’ Hospital in Leeds.

The most convenient way for me to do this is by taking the ring road east from the A61 up through the park at Roundhay and on to Harehills.

For the most part this is a pleasant journey and the park at Rounday adds to the occasion.

I particularly like the drive along the park which gives the impression of driving to a large stately home but finishes with the pleasant view towards Roundhay and the clock tower!

As you’ve already guessed there is a big but coming which occurs on entering Harehills which must have been a very pleasant suburb of Leeds at one time.

It seems to me the council have not bothered to implement any planning control particularly with regard to shops and businesses along the busy road.

Because of this, fantastic vernacular architecture has been hidden, despoiled and defaced by incredibly poor and inappropriate signage which is visual pollution on a grotesque scale.

I think the council should hang their collective head in shame in allowing such a situation to develop. It’s true Harehills is not that wealthy and is populated with people from many different cultures who may not be aware of Britain’s architectural heritage.

For that reason it is up to the council to take a lead and encourage a better approach in the way businesses present themselves. So far the council has failed miserably.

Furthermore, the roads act as a barrier to segregate one side of the street with the other, they have been planned in a complicated and convoluted manner with an excess of ugly railings, barriers and other street furniture rendering the whole area ugly and mean.

As the original architecture is still largely intact the buildings could be enhanced by radical rethinking how businesses present themselves.

This could be done by means of financial incentives such as business rate rebates to owners who improve their business and courses to educate owners on how they could achieve this.

With regard to the roads there is only one solution and that is to strip the entire area of its ugliness by ripping out most of the street furniture and creating green spaces with the roads around and by giving priority to pedestrians. Pie in the sky, I don’t think so since this is common place on the continent with great success in terms of regeneration which hasn’t cost the earth, has improved the environment and created more businesses and jobs.

This problem is not peculiar to Leeds since all northern towns have such areas where it appears the council is not prepared to take any initiative.

If the north is truly to become a modern ’Power House’ to compete with London some effort is required to improve the environment in such areas.

If I were a business owner in these inner city area I would be asking myself for what do I pay business rates.

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What war will mean

M R Elwen, Leeds 15

There are no words I can add to those already used to express my sympathy with those in France who have suffered in the recent attacks. One thing none of us should feel though is surprise.

If today we sent an aircraft to bomb Russia, we would expect, the day after, Russia to send an aircraft to bomb us. IS have no planes or long range missiles they instead use people to deliver their retaliation.

I note the headlines today state the majority of people in Britain now support air strikes against IS. I make no suggestion in this letter as to whether that is right or wrong. It may indeed be the case that as a nation we decide that IS is an evil regime which needs to be destroyed and that we must participate in that.

Should that be the decision we must be prepared for two things; the first that no war takes place at arm’s length, there will be a cost in lives. We have to accept that we will incur casualties and that these will not just be military personnel.

As has happened for millennia, in war, civilians and the innocent suffer. The second, that air power alone will not destroy IS.

It will assist ground forces but will not win a war. Who supplies those ground forces will need to be established.

‘We are at war’ has been repeated several times over the last few days. In fact France, indeed the whole of Europe or the West may already be.

If so we must understand what this means for every single one of us.

Staggered by comments

Gary Edwards, Leeds 25

I was staggered to read Andy Viggars’ comments (YEP November 18) regarding Neville of Lancashire.

Obviously I wasn’t staggered by the content of the letter - the usual mundane drivel that Andy has clearly lost none of his talent for.

No, it was the fact that he appears to still reside in Yorkshire despite several offers, including my own, to pay Andy’s fare (one way) to his beloved county across those seemingly impassable Pennines.

Search for descendants

James Bovington, Horsforth

I am keen to make contact with any descendants of Private Richard Matthews of the Leeds Pals battalion (15/1620) who died almost a century ago with so many of his comrades on the first morning of the Battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916.

Richard was born in Norwich but was living in Holbeck in Leeds when he joined the Pals.

He was 18 or thereabouts at the time of his tragic and untimely death and therefore underage as the rules required a soldier to be aged 19 in order to be in battle.

In many cases of course this was flouted or ignored. Richard’s name is one of over 70,000 British and other Commonwealth soldiers that is engraved on the Thiepval memorial located in the heart of the Somme battlefields.

I am currently working on a play about underage soldiers in WW1 and Richard is a character. We would like to honour his memory by welcoming any of his descendants that we can trace to the play. I can be contacted at bovingjd01@gmail.com

YEP Letters: April 21