YEP Letters: April 27

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Money wasted on traffic calming

Terry Watson, Adel

If Leeds City Council hadn’t wasted so much money on unnecessary traffic calming over the last 20 years, we might be having our disgusting roads resurfaced instead of being patched up temporarily.

Far too much has been spent on vehicle-damaging speed bumps, platforms and chicanes. Thousands of cars are being driven with damaged suspensions, steering, wheels and tyres with drivers unaware of the damage until their vehicles are serviced. Buses, fire engines and ambulances all have the same problems. Ambulances have to plan their routes around these stupid obstructions for their patients safety. For every life saved through traffic calming, more are lost through ambulance delays.

It’s just ridiculous to see road bumps springing up all over costing more than £1,000 each when we have potholes and ruts on the same roads.

Get your priorities right, council.

Leeds’ public transport is embarrassment

Paul Kirby, Wetherby

Every time I visit Europe I realise just what an embarrassment Leeds public transport is, particularly compared to Zurich with its perfectly integrated system of trains, trams, trolleybuses and buses.

One example shows how our councillors and transport bosses have not progressed things much at all in the past 20 years. Leeds Bradford Airport has just one type of public transport for the weary traveller to reach Leeds – the bus. You might then expect a superlative service to impress the hundreds of thousands of annual visitors from all over the world to Yorkshire.

The reality is laughable. The nervous, foreign passenger is greeted by no information at all about ticket types or prices in the airport building or the bus shelter. Is it beyond the wit of the bus company, Metro or the airport to put up a poster with ‘£3.60 – single ticket to Leeds’ and ‘£6 for MetroDay day ticket’? It costs next to nothing. Worse still, there is no opportunity to buy a ticket before entering the bus to avoid the delay and stress of dealing with the driver. Every single one of the 200+ tram stops in Zurich has a ticket machine while Metro cannot install one where it is most needed.

On a recent experience my 757 bus turns up exactly on time and every one of the 20 passengers takes on average 30 seconds to buy their ticket so we are already 10 minutes late. Many of our foreign friends have only large notes proffering £20 notes to the poor driver. The Yorkshire Tiger bus is an old single-decker with no air-conditioning and little space for luggage. There is no onboard screen telling the visitor what the next stop is – invaluable for city centre stops – common on buses throughout Germany and Switzerland. An American asks me if we are in Leeds yet as we pass the town hall.

The bus is not even exclusively an airport bus – it picks up passengers at all stops on the route, slowing down the journey even more along the congested Aire Valley.

This shows what little priority is given to impressing our visitors, many of whom will be tourists vital to our economy, spending money on a city break or longer holiday in the Dales. Will they return if treated like this or recommend us to their friends? First impressions count and a poor one is hard to remove. Perhaps Gary Verity and his ‘Welcome to Yorkshire’ team should be publicly lobbying to improve matters on the visitors’ behalf.

Some buses are newer and have screens but not all. Airport buses should be a flagship service to encourage visitors to travel by bus to our best attractions, like Harewood House but there isn’t even a map on board.

So who is responsible for this lack of progress? I think every single Director General of Metro, every transport councillor and every Leeds City Council leader of the last 20 years should not be proud of themselves for their action/inaction. Bus companies should also shoulder some of the blame for not insisting on higher standards of infrastructure whilst they pour millions into new buses.

The bigger question is whether our leaders, transport authority and bus companies will spend the £173m they now have wisely. Will they make any headway in reaching the standards of other cities like Nottingham? I am hopeful yet doubtful. Unfortunately, they usually go for headline-friendly, grandiose schemes which are never value for money, unless you have got the basics right.

Basics like ticket information, professional and friendly drivers, a comprehensive real-time system that works, attractive printed timetables and imaginative marketing.

Let’s see what Coun Judith Blake and Ben Still, new boss at Metro, deliver and we can judge them.

George Jennings, by email

The main problem with the Leeds transport proposals is that they will not reduce congestion, for two reasons.

The first is that a bus based solution has insufficient capacity to provide a rapid mass-transit sysytem, and the second is that commuters will not switch from their cars to a bus based solution.
It would have been far better to use the money on one project, such as a tramway connecting the major traffic generators, rather than several smaller ones, which between them, will not make much of a difference.

Schools are at breaking point

E Smith, Cookridge

I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with the points so eloquently made by Victoria Jaquiss regarding the education system.

I feel real despair as I watch my granddaughter, not yet three playing happily. The thought that this beautiful, happy and carefree little girl will in just over a year’s time be plunged into the chaotic and pressured world of primary school fills me with dread.

Will she, like her older cousins, become disillusioned and in danger of losing the joy of learning before she is barely out of infancy? Is this what we want for our children and grandchildren?

It is a disgrace that this short window of time when a child should be happiest and carefree is now allowed to pass by only to be replaced by the fear of reaching targets and the impending dread of SATs.

Surely there is much more to educating a child than this? Is it now the time to stand up and try to do something to rectify this mess? To stand together, support the teachers who are struggling under insurmountable workloads and boycott a system that is ruining the future wellbeing and education of a generation. No wonder teachers are cracking under the strain and children are suffering mental health issues at a very young age.

It is a proven fact that music in education greatly enhances a child’s learning in numerous ways and yet music is being drastically cut from the timetable. What will be the next to go? If academisation becomes the norm then education becomes big business, our children become just a commodity to make these businesses even richer.

As a grandmother I have seen the decline since politicians, generally with no educational background have been allowed to interfere with the curriculum and running of schools. SATs and targets prove nothing.

We need to get back to allowing teachers, highly trained in their profession, to teach without interference, otherwise dedicated, highly trained professionals will be lost only to the detriment of our children’s education and future prospects. Schools are at breaking point. How long before they are broken completely?

Politicians not in real world

Judy Goodwin, Altofts

Over the next few weeks we will all be bombarded by politicians making promises they have no intentions of keeping.

I have always felt that politicians do not live in the real world as very few of them have held a proper job outside politics. Most have climbed the greasy pole by coming straight out of university and working as a researcher or bag carrier for a standing MP then when they have proved themselves loyal to the party they are parachuted into a safe seat.

I always thought Alan Johnson came across as a more rounded MP because he had a difficult childhood, married and had children while young and working as a postman so his views were worth listening to, even if you disagreed with him.

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YEP Letters: June 15