Prisoners in our own tower block

I live in high-rise flats – 24 storeys – at Cottingley. We have two lifts, one of which hasn't worked for months; the other has been out of order for three days.

I am 82 years old and have angina so can't walk up and down stairs. This means I have been a prisoner in my own flat, just as everybody else who lives here has.

Vandals caused the trouble by flooding the stairs and lifts with the water hydrants. The trouble is, as only one has been working the other has been overworked. Why have we only had one lift for all this time?

The council have just rewired all the flats; surely if they are short of money the lifts should have been their first priority.

My friend who is 87 lives on the 23rd floor. What would have happened if she had been taken ill?

I had to go out to get some food in today, luckily I went early. I have been told the lift is out of order again.

The money the council is spending on one lift alone must cost more than engaging someone to keep the vandals out in the evening.

I hope you will make this public and then we may get something done about the situation.

MRS B STACEY , Cottingley Heights, Leeds

Why did MP believe Blair's Iraq claims?

Mark Dobson (Letters, February 5) defends the change of opinion of Colin Burgon on the question of the invasion of Iraq and the change of opinion is very welcome.

Colin has an excellent record in Parliament when it comes to voting against the policies of the Labour government.

I am concerned that someone with his record could believe the lies regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction.

At the time of the vote for war millions of people did not believe Blair and Bush. Mr Dobson, what do you think was the real cause of the invasion of Iraq? And what do you think it was that made people accept the Blair Bush version?

You also point out that the Labour party members in Garforth are millions of miles away from the policies of the Labour government. But to raise these differences only within the walls of Parliament is wrong.

They should be taken to the electorate, also to the national labour party members. It is most important to rally opposition to Blair and Brown and their determination to smash the community organisations that are needed for the well being of us all, for example the NHS. Resolutions from the Elmet Labour Party to the next Labour Party Conference would be a great start.

Stand up and be counted. An organised struggle against Blair out in the open is needed and not just talked about in the confines of a hall or a pub.

Norman Harding, e-mail.

l Colin Burgon and the self-promoting Mark Dobson are obviously the latest rats making a bid to leave the 'Good ship Blair'. Only a half-witted ostrich or fawning poodle could have believed there was a case for war in Iraq. I wonder which category Mr Burgon comes under and how he is managing to wash the blood of thousands of innocent people from his hands. I also wonder how many more votes he regrets casting for ridiculous policies pursued by this government that have resulted in pillaged pension schemes, raising the retirement age to 68, raising indirect taxation to the highest levels ever thereby pushing more people below the poverty line than there were in 1997 and many others too numerous to mention.

P HUDSON, Barwick in Elmet, Leeds

All I want is somewhere safe to live

Thank you for bringing to the attention of your readers the plight of residents on the the Girnhill Lane Estate, Featherstone ('Last man standing', YEP, January 31).

I can't believe the comments of Wakefield Council's service director Anne Pittard who has the nerve to say that she understands how difficult conditions are on the estate – when was the last time her house was burgled or houses in her street set on fire, or her children left isolated because other children aren't allowed to play because of gangs roaming the estate?

Anne Pittard also said the council would help residents stay on the estate "on terms they can afford". We own our home and these houses are built on large pieces of land, on my land you can easily fit three new homes. All I want is a new home in exchange for my old home, I also understand that I won't get the same size garden but I'm willing to accept this.

So the council get my house and my land and all I want in exchange is somewhere safe to raise my daughter.

NAME AND ADDRESS WITHHELD

Independence is aim for elderly is aim for elderly elderly

I have to take exception to the headline 'Centres for the elderly may shut in shake-up' (YEP, February 7).

This was not the essence of the information within the executive board report, nor I might add the essence of the article, which rightly had people and not buildings as a focus.

In line with Government proposals, we are trying to modernise the services provided to elderly people to provide services that promote independence and social inclusion and we will be listening to those who attend the centres to discover what they need to achieve this.

Some of these points were made in the article but you could be forgiven for thinking the person who wrote the main article was not the same person who wrote the headline as it was so detached from the story.

It could not even be claimed that the negative headline was caused by taking a direct quote from an opposition councillor.

Perhaps it was felt by some that the story needed to be "sexed-up" or that it could be twisted enough to show a cut by any means possible?

The council report, the article and the media release were all fair and reasonable; the headline was something else.

COUN PETER HARRAND, Executive Member for Adult Health and Social Care

Lights that slow the flow

I am a regular user of the A63 Selby Road from Garforth to the outer ring road. Over the past decade traffic has greatly increased, especially with the opening of the A1-M1 link road. The new traffic lights which have recently been put into use do not help the traffic flow on the A63 eastbound on the roundabout with the A1-M1. At 7am there are longer tailbacks than usual and the journey time has been increased greatly as the lights only let four cars through at a time! Obviously safety is greater as you no longer have vehicles especially HGVS pulling off the motorway and forcing drivers to take emergency action!

Many people have to use this junction through necessity. Ideally we would all like to be able to be at home etc but people have to work where their jobs take them and public transport is not always an option.

L Precious, Swillington.

Good service from GNER

In the interest of access, inclusion and an overall exemplary customer service, it is to be sincerely hoped that GNER do retain the franchise to operate the east coast main line route. This is a key route for many people and the quality of the GNER operation, number of carriages, station support, plus the number of staff working on the trains demonstrates a real commitment to service standards, something which sadly is not the case for some other operators who run trains without enough carriages or staff, resulting in overcrowding and very limited mobility with no one to provide assistance if required.

GNER customer support for disabled customers, both at Leeds station and on board, is exemplar and following the excellent story by Nigel Scott (YEP, January 22) regarding GNER's success in its bid to run an extra 12 weekly services between Yorkshire and the capital, it's now even more crucial that GNER secure the future operation of this important route.

Tim McSharry, Access Committee for Leeds, Mariners Resource Centre, Beeston

Access bus lets us down

I would like to speak for a few residents concerning the Access bus service.

We have used this service for the past seven years, every Saturday, with no problems when Leeds City Council ran the service, but since last September/October, when Wakefield Council took over, we have had more let-downs and poor service.

They send taxis instead of the bus but we are all disabled in many ways. I suffer from osteoarthritis and cannot get into or out of a taxi.

The Access bus is always letting us down. I thought that was the whole purpose of this service – for people with disabilities.

We rely on this service for our weekly shopping and do not get out any other time.

We are disgusted with Wakefield Council. All we get is "we're short of drivers" but they should not have taken on the job if they could not carry the service out. It's not our fault that they are short of drivers. I think they are just making excuses.

I know this service has nothing more to do with Leeds City Council but thought this had to be made public. We are really concerned.

MRS W LANDS, Sheltered Housing, Leeds

Climate change is our priority

Contrary to Coun Adam Ogilvie's letter (YEP, January 25), tackling climate change is actually a major priority for Leeds City Council.

Last year, the council signed the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change. This commits us to producing a strategy to tackle the causes and impacts of climate change by next year.

This will see us contribute to the delivery of the Kyoto protocol and a target for CO2 reduction of 20 per cent by 2010. We are already striving to achieve that target, as shown by the fact our Fuelsavers team has referred 2,500 households in the last eight months for grants to improve the energy efficiency of their home.

And the council is well aware that it needs to lead by example. It is committed to reducing CO2 emissions generated by its own practices by 15 per cent between 2003 and 2008. It also has an environmentally responsible purchasing policy with the aim of reducing the negative effect on the environment of all products and services we buy.

We are determined to do all we can to tackle climate change. Whist we are already taking the positive actions described above, we will not be resting on our laurels. So Coun Ogilvie's view that climate change is not a priority for Leeds City Council is so misguided and out of date it's stuck in the fossil fuel age.

Coun Barry Anderson, Chair, City Services Scrutiny Board

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