YEP Letters February 6

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Check out today’s YEP letters

Empty shelves? UK is one big larder

Derrick Bond, Shadwell

There are scare stories that a no deal Brexit will leave supermarket shelves empty because so much of our food is sourced from the EU.

Looking at the origin of the food I have in my kitchen, my pork is British, the salmon is Scottish, the bread and sugar are wrapped in a Union Flag print, the mustard comes from Norwich and my fruit and veg have labels that say: ‘Grown by British Farmers, with pride, in Britain.’ The UK is one big larder.

Customers forced to use online banking

Martin J Phillips, Leeds 16

Santander are following other UK banks by announcing branch closures.

The excuse they are using is the same as the other banks: there is less need for branches as more customers are using online and telephone banking.

I would argue that it is the other way round: the banks are closing branches in order to force customers to use online and telephone banking.

The sole aim of this is to reduce costs so that the top bankers and shareholder make ever bigger profits for themselves. These are the same bankers and shareholders who brought the country to its knees in 2008 through their greed.Forcing more people to use online and telephone banking will further increase the rise in banking fraud.

In 2015 online banking fraud rose by 64 per cent to £133.5 million and telephone banking fraud increased by 28 per cent to £323.3 million. On top of that 2500 UK customers lose money through ATM fraud every week (which totalled £32.7m in 2015). As Lloyds Bank found out, their plans can backfire: when their online/telephone banking systems broke down last year it cost Lloyds £330 million and they also lost 80,000 customers.

As well as branch closures Yorkshire Bank have other ways to try to force customers to use online/telephone banking or ATMs: they only ever have one or two teller desks in operation forcing customers to queue for ages.

Their main branch in Leeds city centre has gone one step further and no longer provides over-the-counter services on Saturdays. Things are now so bad in Yorkshire Bank branches that they now have signs asking customers to show respect for their staff. It’s a pity Yorkshire Bank can’t show some respect for their patrons and treat them as valued customers rather than like sheep.

Lip service won’t help elderly

Jean Lorriman, by email

THE Prime Minister recently acknowledged the vital role of buses in easing loneliness of the elderly. She has also appointed a Minister for Loneliness.

Loneliness increases in winter because the elderly are often afraid to go out when the weather is bad and not everyone can afford taxis. Fewer elderly people now use the buses due to the drastic decrease in timetables. Some areas are lucky to have one bus an hour and, because of this, some elderly people are preferring to stay indoors – what is the use of a free bus pass if buses are decreasing?

While the PM wrestles with the wretched Brexit problem – and it has been the only topic on the political agenda for a long time – many issues are being sidelined. Homelessness, the NHS crisis and Universal Credit are only afforded a brief mention.

However it is only ‘lip service’ which this Government is paying to the elderly by appointing a Loneliness Minister and acknowledging the role of buses. Even worse is the hidden agenda of inter-generational conflict, with those who say wealthy pensioners are the cause of many of today’s problems. Not true!

The 1930s and war-torn 40s were very hard indeed and many women pensioners today have inadequate pensions. Moreover what better opportunity than the demands of Brexit to bury bad news and really hit the pensioners’ standard of living?

Free television licences for the over-75s are under attack and if buses are not being used then what use is a free bus pass? So TV and a free bus pass – essentials to a pensioner in combating loneliness – may become things of the past. Loneliness will increase and the notion of a Minister for Loneliness will have been buried long before Brexit has been resolved.

Sell goods people want

Chris Chester, Preston.

I WAS most interested in your articles about the high street. Perhaps the major chain stores could try a new strategy – sell goods that people want to buy.

The customer does not want choice; the customer wants what the customer wants.

Eighty per cent of the nation’s wealth is held by people over 50, who have raised their children, paid off their mortgages, now have disposable income and want to buy quality.

Shopping in Leeds is especially painful. As you reported, some 60 per cent of all men’s suits were made in Leeds.

Now try buying a British-made suit in the city. My parents, born and raised in Barnsley, would tear their hair out in despair shopping in Leeds these days.

The only solution is to buy British online. All hail to HebTroCo, trouser makers of Hebden Bridge, to BaaRamEwe for their Yorkshire socks and wool, and to the worsted cloth makers in Leeds who persevere regardless.

Far too often, shops and cafes may be still open physically after 4pm but the staff have switched off mentally. Retail is about personal service as much as material service.

As the old song has it – “everything stops for tea”. Pity nothing seems to start again after tea. Good luck with your campaign!

Game of chicken is diplomatic art

John Riseley, Harrogate.

YVETTE Cooper warns Theresa May not to play chicken.

As a keen supporter of equal pay, what would be her advice to women who feel they are being treated unfairly by an employer?

Should they meekly accept what is offered or indicate that they are prepared to walk away?

Would Ms Cooper’s trade union affiliated colleagues agree that the option of strike action be ruled out ahead of any industrial negotiation?

The game of chicken is a dangerous diplomatic art. Henry Kissinger reportedly suggested that to win a leader should cultivate an image of being reckless and irrational. In that case, the EU has a clear advantage.

Change public transport etiquette

Jane Ashcroft CBE, Chief Executive of Anchor Hanover

Public transport is a crucial lifeline for the UK’s ageing population, with more than three million older people relying on public transport for basic needs.

It’s therefore deeply concerning that 36 per cent of older people – many not so confident on their feet – are often unable to find a seat on public transport, and are not offered one.

One in five older people are so worried about a lack of seating, they’re likely to avoid public transport altogether. That is why campaigns like Standing Up 4 Sitting Down, that aims to make seating more accessible on the high street and public transport, need to exist. In the midst of a loneliness epidemic, we must do better for our older generations.

We’re calling on the public to send a letter to their local transport providers, asking them to join the campaign and encourage passengers to consider the needs of others.

Sign up for Resolution Run

Sally Gunnell, Olympic gold medallist

Resolutions can be hard to stick to but if we’re all doing something together for a great cause, I think they’re so much easier.

I think of resolutions as my new year’s “intentions” instead which take the pressure off and makes the great things I want to achieve, even more exciting. This year, I am proud to be an ambassador for the Stroke Association’s Resolution Run events and I’m looking for everyone in Yorkshire to get involved too. We all know someone who has been effected by stroke but sadly it is still a condition that far too many people don’t understand or think will happen to them. The truth is that stroke is closer than most people think.

The charity has research that shows regular exercise is one of the key ways to help reduce your risk and the good news is you don’t have to be an athlete to get started. Just dust off your running shoes, get your friends and family together and head out there. Every step counts on the road to recovery and prevention. By taking part you’ll be helping to support stroke survivors and their families as they rebuild their lives. These events are a great opportunity to stay fit and make new friends too. Resolution Run events are open to all ages and abilities and you can run, jog or walk to the finish line. To sign up and for more information and training tips visit www.resolutionrun.org.uk/

Walk away if EU insists on Irish backstop

Alex Gillies, Leeds 14

Why are the EU demanding a backstop on the Irish Border that is less than 500km?

There are seven EU countries that have borders with Russia (not an EU member ) and they haven’t a backstop on their borders.

Finland has over a thousand kilometre border with Russia, so why are the EU insisting on the UK Government having a backstop into Northern Ireland?

Transport are heading for the ferries to UK mainland ports, where the cargo can be checked on the crossing? Maybe because many EU countries depend on Russian gas supplies that they have no backstop?

As the UK depend on some of their gas from Russia, is every country that it passes through going to want tariffs?

If the EU insist that the Irish backstop must remain, then the UK Government must walk away.