YEP Letters: November 4

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Government is elephant in the room on housing

Councillor Peter Gruen, ward councillor for Crossgates and Whinmoor

I have followed your debate regarding the ‘housing crisis’ over recent days. Credit where it’s due - thank you for giving ‘air time’ to what undoubtedly IS a crisis.

Simply put, we are not building enough homes for people who are desperate to find a roof over their heads.

We have not built enough homes for far too long. Why not? Certainly here in Leeds we have tried for the past five years.

We have set up an ambitious multi million pound Housing Growth programme, we are leading the way with bringing back into use many hundreds of empty properties, the Little London, Beeston and Holbeck PFI project would not be happening but for our financial support, and we are moving ahead with future allocations for housing.

But your summit missed one essential truth - the elephant in the room is the government. First they instructed the banks to exclusively concentrate on building up their monetary base and by doing so raised the barrier so that people who could afford a sensible mortgage could not put down excessive deposits.

Then we had - and still do - the distractions of blaming everything apart from building homes; so it’s the planning system that’s too slow, not enough brownfield land is being released - when government itself sits on vast areas of non-used land, we’ve had numerous financial gimmicks on the supply side and goodness me then we come to ‘right to buy’!

This of course totally undermines the principle of social housing as a legitimate alternative provision in the market place.

So publicly funded new or improved housing has to be sold off with massive discounts and without adequate compensation to councils to build more new affordable homes.

Let’s get real. If we want to arrest the crisis we need to invest proper money to build new homes and we want them to be in line with our ‘Leeds Standard’, which I introduced 12 months ago - adequate space, energy efficient, attractively designed and fitting the neighbourhood, environmentally friendly, life time accessibility and a mix of types to cater for families and single people.

Surely, as we stand on the threshold of building many new homes, this is not too much to ask for?

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Vases taken at crematorium

J and L Peat, Bramley

Once again we have visited Lawnswood crematorium to take flowers to our parents’ plots and yet again found that the vases have been taken, even though they are clearly marked with their names.

More often than not when we walk around we do find them placed on another plot of a different name full of flowers and if we don’t we have to go and buy more. Why is this happening? This amounts to stealing and in such a place is disgraceful. If people cannot afford to buy the vases then don’t take flowers or the other option is to just place them on the grass or leave them in the chapel/waiting room where plenty of vases are supplied.

Please remember the upset this can cause to the families visiting these plots.

War on the working class

Alan Freeman, Bramley

It was heartening to read your latest batch of letters from people who can see straight through this appalling government (Your Feedback, October 31).

Indeed the only minor points with which I could disagree are the use, by James Kirk and D.M. Temple, of the ‘Mr’ titles for Cameron and Osborne. I find it impossible to accord these two spoilt individuals even that small respect. For the rest of it, thank you Messrs Kirk and Temple, your views are spot on.

This government must be setting new records as political liars, as evidenced by the cheaply bought election votes through promises which were never meant to be delivered, and this process still continues when convenient, particularly with no coalition constraints in place.

In the meantime the war on the working class which they have unleashed continues unabated.

When using the term ‘working class’ I do of course include the many who are not working, not through any fault of their own or lack of willingness.

Many others ‘lucky’ enough to be in work receive a criminal pittance with which they cannot hope to provide themselves and families an acceptable standard of living.

Tax credit cuts have, for the moment been postponed. These cuts are supposedly proposed to raise billions of pounds to aid the national deficit.

Strangely enough a similar number of billions could be raised by forcing tax payments due from the rich tax avoiders (for which read ‘evaders’). This should include all back tax payments.

The government need to realise that with 37 per cent of votes from those who actually turned out or, even worse, 24 per cent of the total electorate, they have no mandate for what is happening.

The electoral FPTP system based around manipulated constituencies distorts the popular vote and should be consigned to the dustbin of history.

Why do we as a nation always just sit back and take it?

Attack on vital organisation

N Bywater, Morley

In reply to Paul Regan from Batley; he was spot on when he said the trade union bill going through Parliament is a political attack on a vital organisation for many people.

I am hoping that the bill will have many changes to it in the House Of Lords, the Lords seem to have the balance of views that our MPs do not. The trade union bill will see the prospect of people protesting on picket lines being forced to wear an arm band to identify themselves, the bill would also impose a minimum 50 per cent turnout - and public sector strikes would need the backing of at least 40 per cent of those eligible to vote. In an ideal world a 40 per cent turnout would be a good thing for all elections, but just singling out the public sector is wrong.

Paul Regan quotes David Davis as saying this trade union bill is like something from the dark days of General Franco’s regime, which our present government is becoming more like every day. We have gone back to the days of the Conservatives being the nasty party. If only David Davis had become the leader of the Conservative party instead of David Cameron.

YEP Letters: August 18