Scandal of home without heating

I REFER to your leading article on January 4, describing the plight of the Atkinson family at the hands of Leeds City Council Housing Department and British Gas.

I am sure I share with the majority of your readers the utter disbelief and sadness that in 2011 a family with two seriously ill very small children, Poppy Mae and Emily Atkinson aged seven months and two years respectively, have been rehoused with no heating connected.

The family no doubt bear an incredible strain caring for both children with such serious illness with all the medical attention and care that they will need. In addition the emotional strain of course is unquantifiable for the family. Surely the family need to be rehoused immediatley into housing fit for means. Hasn't this winter been the coldest ever recorded in this country? It is not acceptable under any circumstances for anyone to be placed in a house with no heating, but for a family with such vulnerable children it seems criminal.

Of course I hope both children have not at present been affected, but this surely constitutes an act of neglect from the services concerned. What if the children deteriorated and became more ill – could the local authority or British Gas be held responsible?

Of course the family's view is the most important in this situation.

I am not a medic (I work in child mental health) but I do wonder what the hospital consultant's medical concerns would be in this situation.

Or, indeed, what the view of Children's Services would be.

Who is responsible for a duty of care here? The child protection issues at stake here are from inadequate services.

It was an important leading article from the Yorkshire Evening Post and I hope enough readers voice their disgust about this situation so that the urgency is registered by the necessary services.

From what you write, it could be a matter of life and death that this family have housing that can keep the children safe.

At present the housing situation that you describe falls dangerously below acceptable levels.

Jane Harris, by email

Train 'sniper' condemned

RE the train being shot at by "sniper" (YEP, January 9).

As a long-time shooter, ex-soldier and weapons instructor, I cannot condemn the actions of this individual enough.

This sort of activity, aside of being downright dangerous, also does nothing to help the reputation of the many millions of decent, responsible individuals across the country who enjoy shooting as a sport and way of life.

We can only thank our luck that no more damage was done than what appeared.

However I would respectfully request that you no longer refer to these individuals as "snipers". This is a pure insult to that individual whom has striven to attain the level of skill, guts, and soldiering that is required of the sniper true, and not the gunman, maniac, or whatever more accurately describes this individual. Many things he may be, but a sniper he is not.

Some time ago, the media hailed the successes of one such sniper gaining the current world record for distance while engaging the Taliban on operations in Afganistan.

This man (and many like him) have, and regularly do, risk their lives to save others.

What possible parallels can there be between the individual who shot at the train and such skilled, brave and selfless individuals?

C E W Ballard, by email

Party of privilege

IT was recently reported that, back in the 1980s, a caring Tory, Harold Macmillan warned Mrs Thatcher that her cuts would "lead to industrial collapse and dangerous levels of unemployment". As usual, she knew best and we have suffered ever since.

Those terrible Thatcher years were when industry got smashed and the financial sector was given free rein.

What we saw then was very much like what we are seeing now, with the "nasty" side of the Tory party in full swing. I refer to the Tories as the "nasty" party because of a lifetime's experience of their opposition to anything which would be of benefit to what I call ordinary every day folk.

They opposed the introduction of the Welfare State, holidays with sick pay, sick benefits, equal rights for women, a minimum wage etc etc. The list is endless.

They are the party of wealth and privilege and epitomise the old saying that "they know the cost of everything and the value of nothing". How else can one explain the scrapping of the Ark Royal and the Harriers? The cutting of the education maintaince allowance the arts and social science budgets, school sports and books for children funds and refusal to give the promised loan to Sheffield Forgemasters?

These types of cuts are a direct ideological attack on the less well-off and those who challenge the legitimacy of the Con/Dem alliance.

R Pearson, Brignall Garth, Leeds

Broken promises

NOW that we are into the first part of 20011, it might be a good time to look back at some of the election promises by the Conservatives.

One of the main things that warmed me towards David Cameron was his apparent empathy towards living a good life and respecting other people.

Back in May 2010 the Conservatives' manifesto said that they would "raise taxes on those drinks linked to antisocial drinking" and "ban off-licences and supermarkets from selling alcohol below cost price". Yet, when I compared prices of bottled water and cans of lager in my local supermarket, there were various different prices, but a four-pack of lager cost 92 pence and a similar pack of water could cost as much as 2.

So, whilst the Tory press try to alienate the public towards the Liberal Democrats for making pie-in-the-sky promises, we should be looking at what the Tories are doing.

The Ambulance Service said that New Year's Eve was the busiest night in its history, due to a high number of alcohol-related incidents. Figures from the Office Of National Statistics shows that the number of alcohol-related deaths in the United Kingdom has increased from a figure of 6.7 per 100,000 in 1992 to 13.6 per 100,000 in 2008.

It seems that whilst we are all living longer, more people are killing themselves by drinking too much alcohol. In England, 17 per cent of all road fatalities are alcohol-related.

N Bywater, Airedale Terrace, Morley

Failed by all three parties

IT would appear that 'democracy' has different meanings for different people.

For Malcolm Naylor, myself and many other well-educated baby-boomers, it means government of the people, for the people, by the people.

For Coun John Abbott, to judge by his letter, it means government of the people by the Conservative Party for the benefit of anyone who can jump aboard the gravy train.

Whilst the large corporations, members of the Cabinet, Prince Charles and anyone else who can get away with it avoids paying tax, the rest of us shoulder the burden of raised VAT, cuts in services, loss of jobs and the cancelling of benefits.

Adding insult to injury, David Cameron has now suggested that we all should give more to charity, presumably in the hope that the charities will plug some of the gaps which are being created in the public services.

In Leeds, the national trend was reversed and a Labour council is now busily compounding the mess left by the Conservatives. The decisions, on which our future well-being depends are actually being taken by the unelected officers in Merrion House and at other locations throughout the city.

P J O'Rourke's grandmother advised him: "Don't vote. It just encourages the ba*****s." We should all go to the polling station. It is our inalienable right, but if enough of us wrote "None of the above" we could perhaps bring to an end this farce which is masquerading as democratic government both nationally and locally.

Carol Brown, Henconner Crescent, Leeds

Hardly a ringing endorsement

EVEN though the General Election took place seven months ago, Mr Nicholson continues his weekly diatribe against the previous Labour government. It's as if he is trying to convince us – or more likely himself – that the Conservatives swept to power in a landslide victory.

Despite the previous Labour administration being a tremendous disappointment, at the election the Conservatives only won 36 per cent of the vote i.e. 64 per cent of the electors voted against having a Tory government.

Perhaps this shows that the majority of the population still have not forgotten the damage the previous Conservative government did to this country and its people.

Mr Nicholson should, therefore, tread more carefully when he berates the other target of his letters – democracy.

M J Phillips, Cookridge

Acts of kindness

I FEEL I must write about the man who sells the Big Issue, I think his name is Nigel.

He stands at the bottom of the steps just as you leave the Merrion Centre.

He is so very kind and helpful. As soon as he sees anyone having difficulty getting down the steps, myself included, also young women with prams, he is there to help.

I really think he deserves a mention for his kindness and consideration.

Laura Mann, Sandringham Crescent, Leeds

EP 15/1/11

YEP Letters: February 19