YEP Letters: April 2

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Thank you to Gary Heaton for his letter in the YEP about empty council homes.

As readers will know through my previous letters on the topic, there are a tiny number of long term empty council houses in Leeds. In every case there are specific reasons for this or the properties would have been re-let.

We are also making progress towards ensuring council homes are re-let within 30 days of them becoming empty.

We want council houses to be let: this provides good quality housing for a resident whilst also bringing rental income to fund improvement work across the city. I will continue to ensure we are letting all council homes wherever possible.

I am very grateful if readers wish to draw to my attention any empty council properties in their areas and I will follow up on any of these personally. To start this off, I can confirm that the property mentioned by Barry Leonard on March 7 was previously a school caretaker’s house and have raised this matter with the relevant department.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Deputy Leader, Leeds City Council, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods, Planning and Support Services

Rhinos need their own song

I AM writing in disgust and anger. Tuning in to watch Leeds Rhinos on Sky Sports on March 21 I could not believe their supporters singing Leeds United’s song “Marching On Together”. Can you imagine that happening in football at Liverpool, Manchester or Glasgow?

Come on, get your own song. Historically you always pinched everybody’s players, now the song!

R Jones, South Leeds

Hypocrisy over Crimean vote

THE HYPOCRISY of Western nations, particularly the United States and Britain, is way beyond belief.

The majority of people of Crimea voted to be recognised as part of Russia, as it should be, not fixed. We know best what is good for you is the predictable response from the West. A violent uprising in Ukraine overthrows a democratically elected President in an organised coup. Well done, we support you, form a puppet government is the response from the West. What happened to democracy?

For 30 years the United States has supported insurgents all over the place. Firstly in Afghanistan and later in Egypt, Libya and Syria and now the Ukraine. Hypocrisy of the highest order.

Since 1945 all around the world the politicians have preached that democracy can be had as long as it is approved by them.

Our Minister for Interfering in foreign countries and our Prime Minister go around posturing and spouting meaningless threats against Russia, knowing full well that Tory Britain is now a toothless tiger. Here at home we have just had a typically democratic Tory budget. Of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. The majority of hardworking people at the lower end of the financial ladder are more than £1,500 per year worse off. The cost of living crisis is deepening. Small savers are being robbed on a daily basis while those who are responsible for getting us into this situation are still enjoying their usual wealth.

R Pearson, Brignall Garth, Leeds

Different rules for teachers

WE KEEP reading about parents being fined for taking their children out of school.

What about striking teachers? They are hypocrites. They take training days in school time, leaving parents to sort out childcare, often at their expense.

It is one law for the schools and one for the parents.

Roger Watkinson, Oak Road, Leeds

Crow did make a difference

DID MALCOLM Nicholson live in London when Bob Crow was initiating significant improvements both for staff and commuters? If not, then what evidence is he basing his comments on? I lived in London for the majority of my adult life before moving to Yorkshire and he did make a difference.

As for his comment about Thatcher, apparently he’s to be castigated in retrospect for this. Mr Nicholson criticises those countries he calls “Communist” for suppressing freedom of speech but it doesn’t apply if you’re a Union leader expressing an opinion about a politician? Faint whiff of hypocrisy there, Malcolm. By the way, I refer you to the letter from V Bedford (YEP, 28 March). It could have been written about you.

T Maunder (genderless), by email

Tackle banks over fuel profit

OUR FUEL bills are rising fast, and politicians seem to have little idea what to do about it.

Tackling the profit-hungry energy companies has to be part of the answer. But the banks, too, must be made to change their ways. In years to come, coal, oil and gas prices are certain to carry on rising, while the cost of renewable energy will fall as long as we invest in infrastructure. Despite this, the big banks put billions into dirty fossil fuel projects – many of which pollute and destroy people’s rivers and forests in developing countries – while their investments in renewables remain tiny. We need ways of financing, producing and distributing energy that are good for people everywhere, and not geared solely towards maximising corporate profit.

Maggi Simpson, Lumley Road, Leeds

Lacklustre view of UK education

I FELT heartbroken after reading your article about the school that will be teaching its own pupils English as a foreign language. Then again, I ought not to have been too disappointed, given the 60 years long unending deterioration and implosion of teaching standards and academic attainments in the UK. My own experience, albeit as a pupil disadvantaged in a far more institutionally racist and pupil-on-pupil bullying educational culture than would be tolerated let alone imagined today, calls into question the lacklustre and appeasing nature of UK education in general as exemplified by the school in your article.

Being of Austrian/Russian parentage and speaking only German at home, actually made me bilingual at the age of five and drove me to be top of the class in English year after year. Given the far less arduous welcome from their hosts these days, I cannot understand why the children of incomers are assumed to “need” additional privileges. A lack of institutional will and purpose and the UK being the only EU member not to insist on linguistic competence as a condition of residency is the true source of the problem.

Louis Kasatkin, Founder of Destiny Poets, Pinderfields Road, Wakefield

Keep backing Meningitis Now

I WIsH to thank everyone for uniting behind Meningitis Now’s Beat it Now! campaign to get the UK’s first lifesaving Meningitis B vaccine free to all babies on the NHS, subject to price negotiations.

The decision is the most monumental news in the 31 years I’ve battled to eradicate meningitis after losing my baby Spencer to Meningitis B. But we cannot become complacent, there are many strains without vaccines, so we must strive for new and better vaccines and ensure we continue to reach the millions of people needing support. So, I ask everyone to keep supporting Meningitis Now, the UK’s largest meningitis charity. Call 01453 768000 or visit

Steve Dayman MBE, Founder, Meningitis Now

YEP Letters: February 19