YEP Letters: August 1

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Check out today’s YEP letters

Lack of unity on Brexit decision

Richard Saberton, by email

If there is a hard Brexit then the vociferous Remainers will bear as much responsibility for it as the hard line Brexiteers. They will have to live with the fallout just like the rest of us!

The Government has consistently failed to show a united front in negotiations with the EU, as indeed has the British public. EU negotiators have had an easy ride because of the UK’s reluctance to whole heartedly back a democratically reached decision, they have been given far too much leverage in negotiations due to our internal bickering and lack of unity.

The EU now think, and with some justification, that the UK will accept any deal, no matter how biased, to end the negotiations.

And if there are still people out there who believe that the EU won’t take the opportunity to humiliate and punish us for daring to ask to leave the club then maybe they would be interested in seeing he fairies at the bottom of my garden? Only a fiver a go!

Time to revive TV studios in the north

From: Dr Keith Massey, Ambassador, Guild of Television Camera Professionals, International Association of Wildlife Filmmakers, Bishopthorpe, York.

HOW good, but how sad, to see the clips on ITV Yorkshire’s Calendar evening magazine programme commemorating the 50th anniversary of Yorkshire Television.

They have been showing extracts from the incredible range of network and regional programmes made from the Leeds studios from 1968 up to its demise in 2009.

Light entertainment, soaps, top drama and documentaries were made by YTV and sold to the ITV network system like Whicker’s World, The Darling Buds of May, The Frost Report and great documentaries, including the asbestos scandal in Armley, and who will ever forget Hannah Hauxwell?

Indeed, an abundance of on- and behind-camera talent that was world class. Great stars including Bruce Forsyth, Alan Wicker, Les Dawson, Jimmy Tarbuck, Cilla Black, Richard Whiteley, David Jason and Catherine Zeta Jones were regulars.

How could government have allowed the prolific, exemplary ITV regional system to fail? I’m all for an open market – but on fair terms. Why were Sky allowed subscription and advertising with their main output in London?

Three years ago I wrote to every Yorkshire MP campaigning for more television to be produced in this county, and to make sure the purpose-built Yorkshire Television Studios were kept at all costs. Emmerdale now uses the main studio.

Sadly the BBC studios were bulldozed at Woodhouse Lane. A national soap had been commissioned entitled Prang (based on a wartime Lancaster squadron) with a cast including Sir Laurence Olivier’s daughter and written by Brian Thompson, but this was axed by the BBC’s then-director general John Birt.

Now, more than ever, we need to bring back production and employment to the Leeds studios as London is a no-go area for talent, with its exorbitant house prices.

Smart meters mean savings

From: Robert Cheesewright, Director of policy & communications, Smart Energy GB.

I would like to provide some reassurance to the people of Yorkshire about the national rollout of smart meters.

Having smart meters installed in every home across Great Britain will transform the experience of buying and using energy for consumers while modernising our outdated energy system.

This transformation will provide benefits to consumers and the country of nearly £6bn over and above the cost of installing smart meters.

The £11 saving figure quoted in the recent British Infrastructure Group report is taken from a cost benefit analysis prepared by the Government in 2016, which also makes clear that people will be saving on average almost £50 a year by 2030.

As the national consumer campaign for smart meters, we speak to thousands of people every year who tell us how having a smart meter has helped them make far bigger savings – more than £100 a year in some cases through making small changes to the way in which they use energy.

Only with a truly efficient and smart energy grid will we be able to keep the lights on effectively without needlessly generating more and more costly and dirty energy to meet demand.

End modern slavery once and for all

Kamran Hussain, Yorkshire and Humber Liberal Democrats Regional Chair and Brexit Spokesperson

The Home Office has this week published a report, which estimates that modern slavery (including labour exploitation, sexual exploitation and domestic servitude) is estimated to cost the UK between £3.3 and £4.3 billion a year.

And the number of victims of this has been estimated between 10,000 and 13,000 people (though in reality the numbers may be much higher).

The Home Office report lays bare the huge costs of modern slavery to both our society and our economy. The extent of slavery in the UK today rightly appals us. Theresa May once called it ‘the great human rights issue of our time’, but many of her own policies are now undermining efforts to tackle it. The Conservatives’ ‘hostile environment’ policies, cuts to the police and the Border Force, and their insistence on a destructive hard Brexit, all make it more difficult to protect victims and put human traffickers behind bars.

We demand better in the fight against modern slavery and call on Theresa May to abandon these harmful policies, so we can end slavery in the UK once and for all.

Lottery draw’s big impact

Shobna Gulati, Actor and Plan International UK Ambassador

Three neighbours in Horsforth were celebrating last month as they each won £1,000 playing the People’s Postcode Lottery.

While the prizes will make a difference to the St. James Avenue residents, the latest lottery draw is having an even bigger impact over 5,000 miles away. People’s Postcode Lottery players have now raised more than £4.5 million for Plan International UK, helping to improve the lives of some of the poorest and most marginalised young people in sub-Saharan Africa. From supporting brave girls facing child marriage in Tanzania, to protecting refugee children separated from their families while fleeing conflict in South Sudan, players in Leeds and across Great Britain are making a huge difference to those most affected by poverty, violence, exclusion and discrimination.

Plan International UK is a charity close to my heart, so I want to say a big thank you to your readers for helping these young people build better futures for themselves.