City that's steadily losing its character

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I SEE that the Albion Street redevelopment and Trinity 'leisure and shopping complex' are on track for completion for spring 2013, another step, in my opinion, of making Leeds into a standardised 'F9' city with the same glass fronts and chain shops to be found anywhere else in England and the same cold, minimalist aesthetic.

Where has all the creative design thinking gone in modern architecture?

The Burton Arcade, to me, is sadly missed and it should never have been pulled down. Its Gladiator-style travalator from the old Bond Street Centre leading to C&A (R.I.P), then Next Clearance, was morose and gritty but added to the character of what a Northern city should be.

The more independent shops, such as Just Books and the caf selling normal coffee and snacks, should have been celebrated not destroyed, to make way for, I expect, yet another Starbucks and the sort of retail outlets you would be expected to be greeted with a 'Hey guys, how's it going?' instead of a 'Good day, madam' or 'Morning, love'.

One only has to look at developments such as The Core, where a fine shopping centre in the Schofields/Headrow centre was ruined to make a trendier, modern shopping parade but succeeded in having less shops, less character and taking any Leeds reference out of the equation, resulting in a soulless, sparse charade.

The killing of the Corn Exchange and the Clarence Dock debacle are also warnings that the modernisation of this great city is often a recipe for disaster.

AM White, Leeds 2

Vital centre

I SUPPORT the letter from T Peacock, regarding mental health day centres in crisis because of cuts by our Government.

Charity Mind purchased the old Abbey cinema and spent thousands modifying the building.

"So do get back to work" – but many will never be well enough to get a job and these drop-ins are their second homes and often their only company, as most families are tied with their own problems.

We never hear of prisoners being told, "Sorry, there is no room at the inn for you", so why do we expect disabled people to cope on their own?

We already have in place a two-years notice, which started about June 2009. When your two years runs out you are given an assessment to see if you really need to keep attending. Mine runs out about July, so I might have to find somewhere else to go.

Things like our police and hospitals and all charities supporting any health problems should not get their money cut.

A Hague, Bellbrooke Grove, Leeds

Thwarted plan

CAN I thank the writer of the recent calendar letter who, for some strange reason, withheld their name and address. The letter referred to a number of points. Sadly, most of them were wrong.

Rachel Reeves, our fantastic new MP, lives in Kirkstall, which is about in the middle of her Leeds West constituency – and this covers Bramley, Armley, Wortley and Kirkstall.

I live, as the letter points out, outside my Bramley Ward, in Horsforth. I am just off Pollard Lane, about 100 yards from the boundary with Bramley. However my work takes me to Bramley each day, as it has done for the last 30 years.

The calendar and letter that we sent out does point out many things that Rachel and I have worked for.

The new footpaths in Rodley are great for local people and, I am sure, will help the business of the local newsagent.

There will be a new footpath link from the bottom of Pollard Lane to the new Kirkstall Forge development. Bramley folk will not have to scale over the railway, river or canal as the letter suggests. What a silly idea!

Talking of silly ideas, how about this dreadful Tory/LibDem Government? The Labour councillors achieved a 4 million contribution from the Kirkstall Forge Developer to build the new rail station, only to discover that this Government are now cancelling the project.

All they understand are cuts, cuts and more cuts and the increase in VAT up to 20 per cent. Also, what about the price of petrol and diesel?

Rachel and I are delighted at the 30 million for the new Intake School, now the Leeds West Academy.

The 6 million contribution to build the 130 new houses at Fairfields – all money from the previous Labour Government.

The Labour team will continue to work hard for Bramley, Rodley and Stanningley. We will fight the cuts wherever we can.

You can always write to me at the Civic Hall or come in and see me 10am each Saturday at the library on Hough Lane.

Councillor Ted Hanley, Bramley Ward Councillor and Chair of Adult Social Care Scrutiny Board

Highway woes

CONGRATULATIONS to Sophie Hazan on exposing the depth of pantomime incompetence in the continuing fiasco of bin collections.

The campaigning Evening Post should not stop here.

It appears that the only real democracy in this city and the only forum for the views of ordinary decent rate-payers are the letter pages of the YEP. The ballot box is a waste of time. All the political parties appear as inept as each other. The days when unpaid local councillors worked tirelessly for the civic good are long gone.

In all the whining and bleating about Government cuts only the Evening Post can turn a spotlight on the dark and secret corners of a council which has long since appeared not fit for purpose. Dark and secret corners where the waste of hard-earned public money has become endemic.

Start with Highways or whatever fancy name they now call themselves. The city boasts dangerous pot-holed roads that would be unacceptable to a banana republic. Yet half a million pounds has been squandered on cosmetic improvements on Roundhay Road to the continuing detriment of local business and motorists. A quarter of a million pounds has been spent on unnecessary traffic lights on Otley Old Road, leading to three months of disruption and delays. You really couldn't make it up.

Six million pounds was handed over to consultants. Whatever they were consulted about it wasn't how to empty bins or repair pot holes.

Substantial cuts can be made without affecting frontline services. But not unless these people are held to account.

Peter Gargett, Holt Park Rise, Leeds

Satisfied customer

I (AND my neighbours) must be very lucky as there has been no diminuation in the year-round excellent refuse collection service we receive in the recent atrocious weather.

Our black bin is due to be collected on a Saturday. Given that Christmas Day was a Saturday, we all put our bins out on Friday and were rewarded with a collection.

New Year's Day was also a Saturday and although we were missed that day, we had a collection on Sunday, January 2. No doubt there was some incentive in the form of enhanced payment or time off in lieu but could I ask how many of the people complaining did extra work over the holidays?

I'm very satisfied with our council.

Geoffrey Ternent, Holt Park Gardens, Leeds

Not all bad?

REGARDING your various correspondents complaining about Leeds City Council not collecting their rubbish.

I read that in America a chap who flung himself off the top of a tall building in a fit of depression had his life saved by landing on a pile of uncollected rubbish. Maybe the council are simply trying to look after us.

John Wilson, New Road Side, Horsforth

Lessons from Bury

ONE reads about the demise of Kirkgate Market; however, Bury has got it right. They have created free coach parking and each driver gets a 10 voucher. This is for breakfast or lunch.

They average about 30 coaches a month. The visitors go to the market and surrounding shops. Cafes do very well. Cannot Leeds consider this?

Also, why are there no plant stalls on the market? The potential is there.

John Lewis, Thirsk Grove, Leeds

VAT man strikes

THE letter "VAT was higher in the Seventies" from Brian Fleming (YEP, January 12) is correct in so far as it goes, but what Mr Fleming has omitted to mention is that at the time there were two rates of VAT.

The higher, 25 per cent, rate was applied to what the chancellor of the day considered to be "luxury" items. Most goods, "essentials", were rated at only 10 per cent. The average across the board was probably equivalent to less than the 17.5 per cent that we had until recently, whilst now, since January 4, everything VAT-rated, with the exception of gas and electricity, attracts the 20 per cent rate.

Philip Sykes, Fearnville Terrace, Leeds

Wrong to pick on pensioner

I READ with interest your report about Ivy Collins and her bird table.

This really proves health and safety has gone overboard and I criticise anyone who is against feeding vulnerable birds, especially in the cold weather.

Indeed we are encouraged to do so by the RSPB and I, for one, have fed my birds in the garden every day for many years and have yet to see a rat.

I hope that Ivy will be able to continue and that Leeds City Council will start putting their attention to more important items, like looking after lonely elderly people instead of upsetting them.

Barbara Spurr, by email

Why we need a leader with clout

HOW I wish this country had someone like President Sarkozy in a position of power, who would stand up for Britain as he does for France.

Every time I hear the term "special relationship" I feel faintly sick. I yearn for a British Prime Minister with the self-confidence to tell the Americans to get lost from time to time.

They would respect us more and treat us better if we weren't constantly snuffling around their shoes, with our tongues lolling out, like a pack of servile spaniels.

M Nicholson, Barwick in Elmet

Reasons to be less cheerful

ERIC Firth must be either a comfortably-off pensioner or someone in a very secure job.

How else can one explain his remark that "2011 could be a good year, if you want it to be"?

How can any ordinary person change the set of circumstances which are being forced upon them?

We have seen a string of totally unreasonable price rises for food, other goods, car insurance and rail travel. Petrol and diesel prices are skyrocking due to tax increases. The forthcoming increase in National Insurance on top of VAT will hammer millions.

The increase on the price of heating, oil, gas and electricity have been little more than profiteering.

With frozen salaries (only for the shop floor), massive job losses, big cuts in public services and the VAT increase, we are being forced to pay so much more in return for so little.

There seems there is no-one in this coalition with any understanding of how ordinary people are affected by their actions. All we have seen is an unholy alliance awash in broken promises.

How anyone can be positive about such a situation must live in a dream world of their own making.

Could Mr Firth tell me why all the fuel price protesters and all references to "stealth taxes" in the Tory press seem to have vanished?

R Pearson, Brignall Garth, Leeds

YEP Letters: February 19