Traveller question is just child’s play

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Tiny school children are taught how to use root cause analysis when dealing with problems, yet our overpaid councillors have failed to use this logic when dealing with the influx of travellers, who recently arrived here in Leeds from Southern Ireland.

Our city councillors have failed to value the real reasons why this problem has occurred in the first place!

The Irish government has introduced new laws instructing caravan travellers to live on permanent sites, or temporary transit camps. Those travellers who now break these laws are fined by the police and they risk having their vehicles confiscated. When the Irish travellers realised that they would have to “pay site fees” to live on the newly built transit camps, they quickly jumped on the ferry and sailed over to England.

The European Court of Human Rights will not allow England to introduce new laws to fine those travellers who set up camps on our community owned land until we build new temporary transit camps and here lies part of the problem.

South Leeds already has a large caravan site for travellers, the snobs and bigots living in North Leeds will not allow them to live in their commuities. The politicians who serve our communities on Leeds City Council carp on about community cohesion, yet they are unwilling to identify any land in North Leeds to provide a temporary transit camp for the travellers. Our city councillors seem to have weak knees.

If Leeds City Council were to build a transit camp for the travellers near to the town of Wetherby and they set the site fees at a higher level than those in Southern Ireland, I am sure that the problem would return back to where it came from in the first place!

P Cockroft, a Leeds resident

No more than a children’s spat

The events referred to in Tuesday’s front page article, ‘Pupils Forced Inside by Hail of Stones’ (YEP May 17) were nothing more than a spat between children. One group of kids (the children from the camp) felt jealous of another group of kids (those inside the school). A few nasty words were spoken, pride was hurt and one or two stones were thrown. The school didn’t take sides, just sensible precautions. The police attended but found no need to speak to any children (or their parents) from the camp. Next day all is back to normal, the school operates as usual and the kids on the camp remain left out and due to be shifted as quickly as the paperwork can be processed.

Yes there was some bad behaviour from a group of homeless children. They know that just because of who they are, and the type of homes they live in, they are left out of things that most other children take for granted. For example a place that you can call home and that you can invite your friends to after school.

Meanwhile what have the headlines and editorial achieved? Sold a few newspapers on a slow news day? The article and comment continued the demonising of a whole group of children and their families who are trying to make their way in life. An inflated description of a spat between children might have sold a few papers. It has done nothing to help a small group of children get on in life. It has done nothing to help the diverse groups of people in Leeds understand each other and live together in peace. But peace and understanding doesn’t sell newspapers does it?

Helen Jones, Chief Executive Officer, Leeds Gypsy and Traveller Exchange

Annoying innit!

Like AM White writing recently on the subject, I also find the term ‘guys’ most irritating when used by waiters, or waitresses, when they ask mixed company, “what can I get you guys”. I always thought the term ‘guy’ applied to males only, even in America, as in the musical Guys and Dolls.

We also seem to have imported, from Australia, the annoying rising inflection at the end of every sentence. This seems to be mainly young people who have picked up this habit, and also that of using the word ‘like’ at least twice in every sentence.

However it is not only the fact that Americanisms seem to be creeping into our language, we seem to be guilty of the misuse of words ourselves. For instance, how can something be ‘terribly good’ or ‘awfully nice’, these are two silly oxymorons in common use, often by well educated people.

The most surprising thing is the number of people in the media, newscasters and presenters, who mispronounce words. We now have artists ‘droring’ pictures not drawing them, ‘medsin’ is now prescribed in place of medicine, secretaries have been replaced by ‘seccataries’, February no longer exists as a month ‘Febuary’ has taken its place, and law and order has given way to ‘lore and order’ .

I was under the impression that the BBC had a department specifically for teaching newscasters and presenters the correct way of pronouncing words. I wonder if it has been a victim of cuts ‘innit’

Ron Davies, 16 Westfield Mount, Yeadon.

Dying matters a vital subject

I welcome the prospect of the first Leeds ‘Dying Matters’ conference on Friday May 20 as reported in the YEP on (May 18) and also welcomed by your comment column.

As a Church of England vicar I have conducted well over five hundred funerals in 22 years and I regard this as a remarkable privilege; I know of one priest who claims to have conducted more than 10,000 funerals! It is sadly true that funeral services held at a crematorium last about twenty minutes – we ministers are requested not to take longer and a new move by the city council is fining funeral directors when services run over their allotted time (so I have been told by several funeral firms). This may sound harsh but it is very distressing to be on time for a family funeral only to have it held up by the previous service. This is particularly problematic at Lawnswood Crematorium where people must leave a service by the same door through which they arrived; the crematoria at Cottingley and Rawdon allow mourners to exit a different way which does reduce this trauma.

One way round this shortage of time problem is to have the funeral in church first. Many parishes now permit more variety in funeral services. I would cite the example of my own father’s funeral. He died on Christmas Day 2010 (aged 90) and I shared the leading of his church funeral with the local vicar. My brother read some of our father’s war letters of 1942-45 written from Burma to my mother, and my brother-in-law played a Mozart Horn Concerto on his French horn. Following the church service, which lasted an hour, we went to a new green burial site where my father’s coffin (made of pine, with wicker handles) was buried in a hand-dug grave. There is no stone to mark the spot; instead my sister planted a cherry tree. In time the burial ground will become woodland. Incidentally, the whole funeral came to £2,700 which sounds a lot but I am all too aware of some funeral directors who charge half as much again for the same provision. I might add that the notice of his death in a major daily newspaper cost £276 (inc. VAT) for less than an inch of one column.

Clearly, we need to overcome the taboo of not talking about death, not least so we don’t get fleeced when it comes to dealing with a funeral. There should be more transparency in the ‘dying business’ and that goes for faith communities, funeral directors, the lot. I wish the conference success which will be measured by how much this subject (which affects us all!) can be brought out into the open.

Rev Andrew Pearson, Priest in Charge of Oulton & Methley

Thanks to the campaigning...

Congratulations to Labour’s Neil Dawson who has managed to wrestle the seat from the Morley Borough Independents. Commiserations too, to Terry Grayshon who can’t be a happy camper at present after losing the seat he kept for seven years.

A number of reasons have been attributed to this seachange and they may all have contributed to Mr Grayshon’s downfall. However, if you’ve been reading the Observer of late, you wouldn’t even have known there was an election as it appeared to be a political-free zone and that did appear to deprive the sitting tenant of free publicity which may (or may not) have been to his advantage. Conversely, Labour did conduct a healthy and vigorous campaign in Morley South and of the three local seats this was the most vulnerable despite Mr. Grayshon’s seven year tenure.

Mr Grayshon must find losing difficult to come to terms with as he has put in a lot of hard work with good outcomes and lots of self-promotion during his tenure. I know just how he feels but, readers, that’s democracy. No matter how hard you work, it is the candidate who gets the most votes who wins and in this instance, it’s Neil Dawson. I suspect Mr. Grayshon is also not best pleased because having worked so hard there may be other elected members who do not work as hard but, keep getting elected but readers, that’s democracy.

One way the MBIs could assist Mr. Grayshon would be to make him Mayor of Morley the year before he gets the MBI re-nomination. This would generate lots of generous publicity for him and it has proved to have worked successfully on two previous occasions for the MBIs.

Stewart McArdle, Churwell, Morley

Why these cuts?

How can a government advocate cuts to its people? This while taxing them to the hilt and causing misery to them, slowly dismantling its NHS, benefits system and defence. Then they turn round and say, oh by the way we’re giving more money to foreign aid, you know the cuts we are imposing on you to make savings is what we are sending . I’ve just found out we are increasing our financial input, to keep Portugal afloat, and who’s next ? Greece, Ireland and Spain? What are they going to send when they’ve bled us dry? I think we are being taken for fools. I thought we had got rid of one lot of fools at the ballot, now we’ve replaced them with double the amount (the Coalition ) .

Jeff Boot, Leeds 6

Praise for writer

Your correspondents misrepresent Mr Naylor of Otley, as a self-opinionated moaner, or as unpatriotic (YEP, May 16).

His critiques of our political system and its beneficiaries are correct. They are self-serving and largely unproductive.

His view of the over-managed bureaucratic Health Service is accurate. His observations on global capitalism are acute. Such dissenting voices prompt re-evaluation; leading to stopping, changing and improving.

The chief fault is complacency. Instead of comparing ourselves with Third World “hell holes”, we might most profitably consider the USA and the main European countries, which surpass us in every respect.

P KILROY, Spennithorne Avenue, Leeds

YEP Letters: March 16