YEP Letters: December 5

courage: PC Martin Willis holds on to the van. @WYP_PCWILLIS/PA Wire .
courage: PC Martin Willis holds on to the van. @WYP_PCWILLIS/PA Wire .
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Check out today’s YEP letters

Praise for quick-thinking PC Willis

Mike Lowry, Cookridge

Pictures of PC Martin Willis holding on to the wheel of a truck poised precariously on a road bridge (YEP December 2) reinforces just how extraordinary our police officers need to be in times of danger.

Quick thinking and personal courage clearly played a part in preventing that truck from careering down the embankment, with possible loss of life. Well done PC Willis, and let us all spare a thought for our police officers who literally never know what is around the corner. Brilliant!

Heart unit boost for patients and their families

Coun Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council

First and foremost what fantastic news for patients in Leeds and the wider region that the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit is to remain open.

Confirmation the NHS has found the service meets new standards introduced last year is vindication for parents and campaigners who for many years made the powerful case for services to remain in Leeds.

The original decision by Government to close the unit back in 2011 was clearly flawed. It took over 100,000 petition signatures and an unbelievable effort from parents and campaigners to get that decision reversed.

As a council, we were clear from the outset the decision to close Leeds would be damaging to patients and I’d like to pay particular tribute to Coun John Illingworth for the many hours he dedicated to questioning and challenging the Government’s original decision. The hard work of campaigners and parents provides certainty for families in Leeds and across Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. It is also something future patients and their families will be immensely thankful for.

With continuing government austerity starving the NHS of the essential funding needed as we head further into winter, the news for heart surgery in Leeds is a rare but much welcome boost for patients and their families.

Votes at 16 would have kept us in the EU

James Bovington, Leeds 18

I totally disagree as usual with your correspondent D S Boyes about votes at 16.

As a teacher I had always been sceptical about votes at 16 since many young people lack the maturity required to arrive at reasoned decisions. But of course so do many aged 61.

I changed my mind with the Scottish referendum when a whole generation of young people were galvanised to make decisions about their future and certainly did not follow what their elders suggested. It’s a shame that we didn’t have votes at 16 in the EU membership referendum. If we had then this whole Brexit nightmare might have been avoided to everyone’s benefit. Certainly for young people who have been robbed of the opportunity to be involved in future Euopean cultural and social initiatives.

What’s needed now is a second referendum with votes for young people aged 16 and 17 included to ask if we want to remain part of the EEA, which includes the Single Market and the Customs Union. EEA membership wasn’t on the June 2016 ballot paper so to address that question separately is not asking people to vote again on the same issue as before.

Of course I will remain a remainer as long as I remain. When a single British provincial city has a qualitatively better public transport system than its continental equivalents then I’ll accept that the leavers might have a point. More chance as the French say of hens getting teeth, or pigs flying.

But young people planning their future preparing their university applications etc. should have the right to decide. Sixteen seems an appropriate age.

Plastic threat to our oceans

Annie Russell, Sheffield.

WITH reference to the article “Christmas CocaCola truck visits Leeds’ White Rose Shopping Centre”, I, for one, did not celebrate the arrival of the truck in Yorkshire.

As a Sheffield-dwelling mother to a three-year-old, I am concerned about the future of our environment, including our seas. I don’t want my daughter to grow up in a world where there is, by weight, more plastic in the ocean than fish, as some studies predict there will be by 2050. I have been following the Greenpeace campaign about CocaCola bottles and plastic waste and I have also been enjoying Blue Planet II, but have found it very hard to watch the footage of animals suffering and dying due to a build-up of plastics in the ocean. David Attenborough commented on the plastic problem ahead of the release of Blue Planet II: “We could do something about plastic right now… We’ve seen albatrosses come back with their belly full of food for their young and nothing in it. The albatross parent has been away for weeks gathering stuff for her young and what comes out? What does she give her chick? You think it’s going to be squid, but it is plastic…” Rather than join the queue for a freebie from the CocaCola truck, I will be joining Greenpeace in calling for CocaCola to clean up their act, and stop destroying our planet with their excessive and unnecessary plastic production.

Hero without proper grave

Mrs SM Barnard, Leeds.

LIKE the young Spitfire pilot John Henry Coates, my uncle Arthur Vincent Gowers DFC (‘Gus’), was killed in action in 1943 after four years of fighting.

He was ordered to lead his squadron of Typhoons at ‘zero feet’ in a raid over Cherbourg, France; the target was the Munsterland, a ship full of materials for the German war effort. The squadron had no chance against the flak; two pilots were ‘downed’ into the sea and one was taken prisoner.

Two researchers, one Dutch and one French, worked on Gus’ case and believed they had not only traced where his body was washed ashore but had also located his grave in the old cemetery at Cherbourg. The case was presented to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, but despite their receiving certain information from his widow (who has since died) which we believed would clinch the case, it was rejected.

DNA could identify him, but the CWGC said they were unwilling to take this step. Gus lies in a CWGC grave in a beautifully kept cemetery, but he is nameless and does not even have the honour of an RAF badge on his memorial.

I have the greatest admiration for the CWGC and their excellent work, but his descendants and I feel that this is a sad way to treat a much-loved young man who, only 30 years old, gave his life for his country.

‘Ludicrous’ City of Culture decision

Shaun Kavanagh, by email

The fat cats of the EU hierarchy i.e. Antonio Tajani, Jean Claude Juncker, Michel Barnier and their like, strike again. This time against Dundee, Leeds, Milton Keynes and Nottingham one of which hoped to be selected as the City of Culture in 2023.

Now the EU leaders, using their lack of wisdom which has been witnessed on numerous occasions, have decided a UK city cannot receive such an accolade because we will not be in the EU, yet they do allow countries to be considered, countries which have never joined the EU. Their ludicrous decision, one of many, is blatantly insulting and all the more reason for the UK to leave the EU.

The four cities affected by the decision results from the EU hierarchy smarting over Brexit pure and simple.

Why, when Brexit was announced 17 months ago, have they just arrived at their decision, a decision which has created millions of wasted revenue?

With the UK leaving the EU it is likely to see the demise of the European Union with other countries following suit.

The German government, one of the main players in the EU, appear to be currently in disarray with other countries within the EU being in the same predicament.

The British people should grasp at the fact we are a formidable player in the world economy and countries within the EU need us rather than we them.

The British government should be in total control as opposed to the current situation of being continually dictated to by Brussels.

Our country should control our wealth, our borders, our immigration, our future etc etc.

What emanates from Brussels rarely benefits the UK so why not leave the EU, with or without a deal? It will only be a matter of time before the UK sees countries seeking to benefit from the stability it will offer.

The exit from the EU is upon us so no point in whingeing, arguing as to right or wrong, requesting another referendum.

The simple fact is, Brexit is here to stay so we all need to embrace it and get on with it or it will never work.

Gift shows gratitude

Dr John P Whiteley, Pool-in-Wharfedale.

IT was heartwarming to see the huge Christmas tree for Trafalgar Square sent every year as a gift from the people of Norway to the people of Great Britain for our help to them in the Second World War.

This generosity set me thinking. Is there any similar gesture from any of the other countries involved – or should I say saved – by the sacrifice of ourselves and our allies?

I am thinking particularly of France, Belgium and Germany.

Reduction in council tax?

A Shipman, Leeds.

AS West Yorkshire Police, due to austerity, are planning to let go of a number of experienced officers, and replace them with new recruits on lower pay, can we expect a reduction in the police precept element of next year’s council tax, as we will be receiving an inferior service?

If only this was so. The police, nowadays, are not so much a service to the public, but more a service to the public purse.

Smart roads are not dangerous - but drivers are

Richard Saberton, Horbury

The only thing not smart about smart motorways (YEP Letters December 4) is the drivers.

Smart motorways tell drivers how fast they should be going, what lane they should use, even the weather and driving conditions.

All the driver has to do is steer and look out for other vehicles.

What they don’t do is tell the driver not to drive into the vehicle in front of them, but surely this should be
obvious?

The lack of a hard shoulder does not cause collisions, it’s bad driving that does that.

You have effectively a wide, gently curving road with excellent visibility, so focus sufficiently in front to allow you to drive proactively not reactively and if there is something in your way adjust your speed and either steer around it or stop behind it. It’s not rocket science.

It’s not motorways that are dangerous, it’s drivers.

YEP Letters: December 6

YEP Letters: December 4