YEP Letters: December 31

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Check out today’s YEP letters

Mining tradition must remain alive

Mike Harwood, Kirkstall

re: ‘Plea for a memorial to miners’ (YEP letters, December 24).

Yes, there should be a memorial to Kellingley and its mining families. But, to adopt the words of Nurse Edith Cavell, nostalgia is not enough. Their jobs may have gone; but the miners have not.

Governments would no doubt like them to disappear behind a stone memorial and into a job centre. But there is much to be done; a new history to be forged.

At this point in time, paradoxically, the miners (ex-miners) are perhaps the ones who can help lead us into a new, sustainable, fossil-free future.

The government has shown that it does not care. Their attempt to justify the closure of the last deep mine does not ring true when at the same time they are slashing subsidies to solar and wind power; and when they are rushing to support their fracking friends, an even greater threat to the environment, to the possibility of a sustainable future, to our beloved countryside.

Throughout their history the miners have been at the forefront of a struggle, not just for themselves, but for justice for all workers, in defending the Republic in Spain; in (a personal memory for me) the wholehearted support Yorkshire miners gave to health workers in our year-long dispute in 1983.

This is the stuff their history is made of. The story is endless. The mining tradition will/must remain alive as part of a new struggle.

But it does not have to be in the hewing of coal. It can be in the ‘hewing’ a better, sustainable future.


Worries over public health budget

Garth Frankland, Leeds 8

Your newspaper has carried several articles about the government cutting £2.4 million from the public health budget in Leeds. This is despite them promising to protect the health budget.

It is also worrying that Leeds City Council has not rejected the cut and challenged the government to restore the money.

Some research has shown that each pound spent on prevention through public health saves the National Health Service three pounds.

In other words Leeds City Council has decided to inflict a further £7.2 million on an already stretched service. This is besides the direct effect on those using the services cut. The government decision also flags up what they intend to do with the Northern Powerhouse i.e. hand over the responsibility for cuts to the council. There is absolutely no reason to remain in talks with this ideologically driven pro austerity government.

Leeds should pull out now.

Celebrating music teachers

Victoria J Foxwood Panyard, by email

Over the years all newspapers inevitably, and why not, get their musical headlines with the one-offs, with celebrity, with the already and once famous.

We read that Opera This and ex Rock Star That visits Primary School the Other, and all the children therein are suddenly able to sing, to drum, or get better exam results, or behave better. And yes, celebrity can inspire; but who sustains? Here is a true story about a band that I never taught.

At Allerton Grange they called themselves Glassbody. I was at the World of Music concert as per usual rocking with my little steelband, and I was staying on as per usual because the other acts are always so amazing, but when this group that was so Cure so Bloc Party, and so themselves took the stage, was blown away.

The following year they unsurprisingly won the Leeds Battle of the Bands, and got to play Leeds Fest; they changed their name to Vitamin and three/four years later they are still together, making records, still gigging, a band Leeds can be proud of. The same four players. And still wonderful.

Vitamin did this because private and music service music teachers taught them, because they themselves had a desire to play, because their parents and carers supported them, and because their music teachers put on concerts in their own free time four or five times a year, providing expert sound engineering, believed in them, put them at the shows, allowed them to be themselves. In short they cared for them expertly when they were just starting their musical journeys.

And Sam and Theresa do this week in and week out, just as Charlotte and Frankie and Chris and Emma, and all the others music teachers and school technicians in Leeds, and week in week out they make a difference. They make the difference.

I took the grandchildren to see The Nutcracker this week, and they all want to see a ballet again, because Northern Ballet do what they do best: they perform. Teachers teach and performers perform. I don’t mind performers for being celebrated for what they do. I would just like the same for teachers.

All teachers - too many good ones to nominate any one for any award.

Vehicle tax for cyclists?

Alan Smith (cyclist and motorist), Meanwood

Perhaps cyclists should after all pay some kind of vehicle tax as they exhale significant quantities of “dangerous” CO2 when struggling up the many hills in Leeds.