I READ with interest and some bemusement the comments made by Councillor Bernard Atha in your recent article ('Leader's hopes for 2011', YEP, January 5).
As he well knows, the cuts being faced by local authorities throughout the country are, in fact, a result of the last government's shocking financial legacy.
Given that Coun Atha supported the last government, it seems to me that he must be in some sort of denial about the sheer scale of the budget deficit that was inherited by the Coalition – over 150bn.
We all appreciate the arts offer that we have here in Leeds, it is a credit to the creative energy of the people of our city and the ambition and determination of the many organisations that contribute to the arts in Leeds.
Indeed, when I was council leader we oversaw a number of major arts projects in the city.
While Coun Atha seeks to blame funding problems on the government, he fails to admit that it is the Labour/Green administration in control of Leeds City Council and not the national government that has prioritised arts cuts in Leeds, that could be as much as 10 per cent in the next financial year.
If the Coalition government had not been saddled with interest payments along of 120m per day, the cuts being proposed would not have to be made at all.
It is a pity that Coun Atha sat silent while the previous government brought the country to the edge of bankruptcy.
Finally, it is difficult to see how on the one hand he can criticise the government for initiating cuts, yet on the other hand be part of an administration that is proposing a 10 per cent cut to all grants that go to arts organisations in Leeds.
Councillor Andrew Carter, Leader of the Conservative Group, Leeds City Council
Hole in leader's
I HAD to read the letter ('Roads must be maintained') from the Leeds Conservative Group leader, Councillor Andrew Carter, twice.
I thought that he surely would have to mention the vicious cuts imposed on Leeds City Council by his Coalition government? But, no, not a mention as he attacks the Labour council in Leeds on roads maintenance and the cuts to the highways maintenance budget.
I have no desire to drive on bad roads but when I do hit a pothole I will blame the Coalition Government, not Leeds City Council.
I always thought that the previous Con-Lib Dem council had an obsession with highways maintenance. If comes to a choice between support for vulnerable people and filling in potholes, I know where I would prefer the axe to fall. I hope Coun Carter will be making representations to his colleagues in Westminister, on behalf of Leeds people.
Cherril Cliff, Armley
Quite a collection
I WOULD like to be able to nominate Dewsbury Road in Tingley as having the biggest potholes in Leeds, but regrettably I can't. However, what we lack in 'quality' we more than make up for in 'quantity'.
In just over 100 yards of road there are somewhere over 100 potholes, most of them dating back to last year or even earlier, never mind any that this winter has added to our collection.
I know that money is tight for such repairs, but if they are not tackled soon they can only get worse, and will cost even more to fix in future.
There's an old saying that 'a stitch in timer saves nine', but that concept seems totally alien to our local councils who perpetually let such problems get worse and worse rather than fix them early whilst they're only small.
J R Wainwright, Tingley
WHEN politicians lack the intellect to present reasoned arguments they turn to abuse and insults. Such was the response of Hull Conservative councillor John Abbot's view of democracy as one in which only Conservatism is acceptable to his Establishment mind.
By any standards his blinkered view of democracy would not be out of place in any dictatorship.
And, to demonstrate his belief in our democracy, maybe Councillor Abbot would inform us what proportion of the total electorate actually voted for him? And I do mean the total electorate, including those who withheld their votes out of despair for the lack of choice in the candidates.
I also wonder if he spends the same amount of time defending vulnerable elderly and disabled people and carers in his constituency as he does defending bankers responsible for the economic mess. And what cuts in social care is the council he belongs to planning?
However I do thank him for exposing the true beliefs of the Conservative Party and hope that when elections come around he and his ilk will be banished forever.
Conservatism is synonymous with hypocrisy, as both David Cameron and Osborne have shown with their tax-avoiding antics. Cameron with his 300,000 tax-free inheritance and Osborne with his tax-avoiding trusts, bankers lining up to pocket their bonuses at our expense and the monarchy getting its greedy hands on profits from Crown Estates that really belong to us.
And finally I would be the last to support the return of the likes of Blair, Brown or any similar reincarnation, as they are merely part of the conservative Establishment responsible for the inequality that now pervades this country.
Malcolm Naylor, Otley
Coalition is bad for the country
RE Coun John Abbott's letter. For many people we know what track we are on with the Coalition government with regards to job losses, cuts in services, health, education, an increase in VAT and tuition fees to start with.
Justified criticism towards Gordon Brown's failure to sufficiently regulate the banking system, but the Conservatives in opposition wanted less regulation than what was in place. I hate to think where we would be now – and who does John Abbott blame for the economic problems in the USA, France and Germany where there were incumbent right-wing governments?
Levies on bankers' bonuses, still no agreement. We know the priorities of the Coalition, which will easily be watered down by the banks, on either massive increases in basic pay or share options.
The electorate also proved during the election that it didn't want a Conservative government, with the Tories unable to get a majority and subsequently a coalition government formed to the detriment of the Lib-Dems, who are now at their lowest poll rating. A coalition government, the Conservatives told us throughout the election campaign, would be bad for the country and I think there will be a lot of truth in that.
M Duffield, Gipton
Test of loyalty
WHEN Labour were in power, we read letter after letter from their supporters in the YEP letters pages. My own post contained at least two unsigned letters every month from Labour supporters, who wanted to slag me off because I tended to support the Conservatives. They never tippled that when the Conservatives did wrong, or went against their promises, I wrote letters about them.
That's one thing I like about football supporters. When they give their support it's full support but when the team do badly they are not slow in coming forward to slag their team or managers, while still supporting them week after week. Remember this: without support, your football or political team will never know what or where they are going wrong. I still send letters to No.10.
L E Slack, Lingfield View, Leeds
Room for a new political party
IT has been marvellous to see such a brilliant set of readers' letters in the YEP, in particular, a recent letter by a Mr D Birch of Cookridge headed 'Schoolboys that run our country'. Essentially the class demarcation levels often discussed by politicians and, more recently, by Labour leader Ed Miliband, who on The Andrew Marr Show was seeking to plug leaks from care voters often assumed to be tied into class and income.
This highly-educated bunch of politicians hold the high ground in decisions made about us, often remote and misformed. This highly-educated bunch also exist in the local authority career ladder. Politician representation with democratic consent but often not bothering to look at what may embarrass them, i.e. the working class and the apparent lack of representation with this group. Modern politicians know ordinary folk do not have the time to engage in local democratic processes.
Therefore, I suggest that it would not be disingenuous to conceive of an idea whereby there was the emergence of a new political party, e.g. "The Working Class Party", free from the shackles of the Labour Party, crankbox left-wing groups and unions and Marxist madmen. A party based upon individual subscription and sponsoring local council candidates. As they say nowadays, "are you up for it?"
K Wilson, Tadcaster
IF ever an example was needed to pour scepticism on the outcome of 'surveys' the YEP provided its readers with one in its issue of January 6.
On page 12 headed 'Smile – we're top of the happiness poll', the Happy Egg Co conducted a survey that found 60 per cent of Leeds workers were happy with their job.
On page 18 headed 'Workday blues for employees', the training provider Lifetime conducted a similar survey and found only six per cent of Leeds workers were happy in their work.
What we are to make of the disparity twixt the two I know not, perhaps a survey of your readers might result in solution to this conundrum?
Richard T Strudwick, Cross Gates, Leeds