YEP Letters: September 30

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Check out today’s YEP letters

Prostitution managed zone is not the answer

Marilla Clayton, Leeds 8

Having had over a decade’s experience of living in the middle of the Chapeltown red light district, I am writing in response to the YEP articles of August 1 and August 6 to say that ‘managed areas’ are definitely not the answer.

I feel strongly about the subject as the street prostitution problem contributed to the loss of my 15 year business. I sympathise with the long-suffering residents and business people of Holbeck who are being badly let down by the police who are employed to enforce the laws of the land. They are also being let down by their local councillors who were voted into office to represent the interests of local residents. In the article of August 1, businessman Ian Staines is quoted as saying: “It’s (prostitution is) an illegal activity. Police are there to enforce the law and they aren’t doing it. They’ve given up...they drive past kerb crawlers and prostitutes and turn a blind eye.”

Residents pay their council tax in good faith and part of the council tax is used to pay towards funding the police and PCSOs. Soliciting for the purposes of prostitution is against the law. In designating a ‘managed zone’ the police are admitting that they are allowing prostitutes to break the law. The Holbeck councillors should not be condoning this.

Thanks to the relentless, long-term campaigning of Chapeltown residents and local MP Fabian Hamilton, kerb crawling was also made an arrestable offence from October 1, 2001. In allowing the ‘managed area’ in Holbeck, does this mean that the police are also allowing kerb crawlers to break the law? It’s a long time now since I’ve read in the newspapers about any kerb crawlers being arrested.

Living off immoral earnings is also against the law. A lot of the prostitutes who operated in our area were controlled by pimps but it was extremely rare to read about any action being taken against a pimp. There has been a lot of publicity about the grooming of young girls in the Rochdale and Rotherham areas. A local community group, which we set up in our area to try to tackle the street prostitution problem, sent a letter in to the government to raise the issue of the number of young girls who were soliciting on our streets. If the police are designating a particular area in Holbeck as a tolerance zone for prostitutes, this could send out a message to the traffickers that this is an area to which they can traffick young girls.

I feel the YEP, in printing a map of the ‘managed area’ has done the residents and business people of Holbeck no favours. I believe Coun Dobson, who has responsibility for environmental protection and community safety, and the three councillors for Beeston and Holbeck, Angela Gabriel, Adam Ogilvie and David Congreve, should take up the whole issue with the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Home Secretary to put pressure on the police to scrap the tolerance zone for prostitutes and to concentrate on enforcing all the relevant laws.

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Cost of trolley bus scheme

Lindon Dove, Tingley

It never ceases to amaze me that like all public bodies, Leeds City Council never learns from previous mistakes.

In fairness, why should their procurement processes be any different from their many counterparts in the public service? The newspapers have been awash in the past with mind boggling stories of the MOD and NHS entering into contracts where the final costs ballooned many times over the original estimates.

The signs are already apparent in the council’s £250 million trolley bus scheme. The cost of the public hearing alone has added £2.6 million, a cost never included in the original estimate. Such an amount would not be a great problem if it were the only one missing from the initial project plan. A number of qualified experts, however, have identified a range of costs missing from the Design and Freeze Final documents supplied for the trolley bus project.

Surely this is just scaremongering you might say. Well the Edinburgh tram project was initially allocated £350 million of funds.

This escalated to a sum in excess of £1 billion when interest charges are added, for a much reduced system from the original specification. You think this could not happen again?

Well Leeds City Council already have a spendthrift reputation second to none. Look at the money wasted on the Super Tram project.

The sad thing is that there are cheaper and more efficient alternatives such as battery operated buses, which can be developed as a city wide transport system and not restricted to a single route.

I suppose any extra cost can easily be added to the council’s £1.9 billion long term debt. I do wonder if anyone’s head will roll if I am right, or will they be rewarded with the freedom of the city?

Sell remaining stock on Ebay?

Martin J Phillips, Cookridge

On the same day that London pulled out of the bidding for Le Grande Départ 2017 citing financial concerns, we hear that Welcome to Yorkshire made a loss of roughly £1 million on the Tour de France in Yorkshire mainly through the lack of sales of merchandise.

Welcome to Yorkshire (WtY) are now hoping to be bailed out with more tax payers’ money at a time when Leeds Council are being forced to close three care homes due to financial constraints.

It strikes me as bad financial planning if WtY ended up with a massive amount of unsold stock. Perhaps they should try to sell some of the remaining merchandise at reduced prices on Ebay to recoup some of their losses rather than expecting to be bailed out with public money.

Housing system at rock bottom

A Shipman, Leeds 13

The system of council housing in our city has reached rock bottom, highlighted by the YEP item on Tuesday September 22.

Due to poor health, in October 2006 I put in a request to my local housing office for sheltered accommodation. Nine years later, still waiting, a case of stay put with Leeds City Council.

In early July this year I asked for a home help, again still waiting, with a response from the council taking over a fortnight to arrive is not unusual.

The proverbial patience of Job is definitely needed when dealing with Leeds City Council.