Check out today’s YEP letters
Town centres have lost their heart
Robert Allewell, Rawdon
Regarding the declining High Street, I know it is unfashionable to look back in time but there are some relevant points that should be considered on why this has come about.
In 1996 and earlier in 1988 Planning Policy Guidance Notes were issued, supposedly, to reduce the impact on town centres by out of town developments.
These have been disregarded by the planners and out of town shopping centres and retail parks have developed to saturation point with the consequent effect on the High Street.
Consultants have also been only to eager to advise their retail clients that they need more space unnecessarily. Retail development has followed the American model which has little identity and in many cases viability.
Not surprisingly town centres have lost their heart and their identity. Something us Brits seem keen to get rid of.
Benefits must be administered in a fair manner
Coun Tom Leadley, West Ardsley
Many will have been glad to hear Theresa May’s screech of brakes over the roll out of Universal Credit (YEP, January 7) with 10,000 rather than three million people now due for transfer in the next instalment, a reduction of 97 per cent.
There is a need for reform and simplification of the current benefits system, which is so complicated that it has been claimed that Frank Field MP is the only living creature that understands it, but it must be done in a way which is neither incompetent nor mean-spirited.
A process which has generated less publicity than Universal Credit is the transfer of severely disabled people from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which by and large should have been a cash neutral formality.
In fact, what has happened is that many claimants, however, obviously deserving, have been refused transfer on trivial or technical grounds. Almost invariably, such refusals will be overturned at appeal, but, so many appeals are being provoked by DSS that Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service cannot cope.
Appeal waiting times at Wakefield have increased from 37 weeks last July to 44 weeks now; a backlog is snowballing. Benefits are stopped until an appeal is heard, so a severely disabled claimant will have to go without that income for at least nine months, and then receive a huge back payment when the appeal is successful.
It cannot be acceptable that bureaucrats at DSS are creating an unjustifiably hostile environment for deserving claimants to satisfy some misguided right wing political agenda. Benefits must be administered in a fair and reasonable manner.
UK ‘close to surrender’
Mr L Brook, Rothwell
The UK is dangerously close to surrender.
It is reported that some 200 of our “leading politicians” will not vote for a “no-deal” Brexit and many others think we can leave “with benefits”.
We have not surrendered our country to past “oppressors” yet successive governments have allowed Brussels to move from a market trading group to taking full control of 27 other countries (including ours) not by threat, but by friendly stealth.
Their next move has been to announce plans for a European Army. The only time we showed any backbone was when we refused to surrender our currency. At last a government gave the people a vote on remaining or staying in the EU and by a democratic majority we voted leave. There was no suggestion of doing any deals, and you don’t have to have many brain cells to know that you cannot do deals with oppressors.
If part of Ireland wishes to continue being a “united State of Europe” that is their problem, whatever the consequences.
The task of the government was therefore very simple: leave immediately with no payments, no compromises and no delays. Clearly our leaders have betrayed us, and sadly their behaviour does suggest they think we are incapable of controlling our own country, or they are happy to surrender despite our views.
They are not fit for purpose and it is the nation that will pay dearly for their actions.
Government needs strategy for health
Rachel Power, Chief Executive, Patients Association
The long-term plan for the NHS has undoubted strengths.
Its commitment to shifting the focus of NHS services much more into the community is exactly the right priority. Integration and prevention are essential focuses, and totally correct.
So it is highly unfortunate that failures outside the plan itself mean that on its own it cannot safeguard the future of the health and social care system. The Government still lacks any sort of strategy for health and wellbeing, and has not even published its Green Paper with proposals to end the ongoing social care crisis.
Last year’s funding announcement promises another five years of below-trend growth for the NHS, on top of the eight it has just endured, and excluded key areas of expenditure.
The serious and growing shortages in the health and care workforce are a major threat, and could even make the plan undeliverable. Training and developing skilled staff cannot be done quickly, and it’s not clear whether the Government’s immigration proposals and our exit from the European Union will support recruitment from abroad.
NHS England has done what was asked of it in terms of developing a coherent plan.
The Government now needs to do its part, and get serious about addressing the substantial strategic problems that still pose major threats to the health and care system.
We deserve better
Hilary Andrews, Leeds
While buses ended at 8pm here in Leeds on New Year’s Eve, in London they ran until 4.30am on New Year’s Day and, what’s more, there was free travel for passengers.
There were no buses at all in Leeds on New Year’s Day but they merely ran only every three to five minutes in London. We in the North deserve far better.
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