YEP Letters January 29

David Jensen/PA.
David Jensen/PA.
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Check out today’s YEP letters

No question about Fiona’s control

A Hague, Leeds.

AFTER reading that Fiona Bruce would be running Question Time on TV in the future, I had my doubts.

After watching it this week, I realised I was wrong. She did a great job keeping full control and correcting the panel members if they were wrong. Like Margaret Thatcher, this lady is not for turning.

Work together to tackle the city’s pollution

Coun James Lewis, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Resources and Sustainability, Leeds City Council

The evidence is clear: air pollution poses the biggest environmental risk to our health. Breathing polluted air damages our lungs, reduces life expectancy and worsens the symptoms of asthma.

Unfortunately, like many thriving cities, air pollution exceeds legal limits in some parts of Leeds.

The UK Supreme Court has ordered the Government to make sure that our laws on air pollution are upheld.

As a result, Leeds City Council has been directed by the Government to ensure the city complies in the shortest possible time. Therefore we must act immediately by encouraging businesses to transition to less polluting vehicles. Drivers of cars, motorcycles or vans will not be charged. Buses, lorries, taxi and private hire which meet low emission standards will also avoid charges. The charge is directed only at vehicles in these categories which do not meet the minimum emission standards to encourage businesses to change.

Unfortunately, the government haven’t given the council all the funding that we asked for, however, we will be offering £23 million in support to help those facing charges upgrade to cleaner vehicles. More information about support packages (including eligibility criteria) will be shared soon. I recognise that this will be a difficult transition for some. The council will do everything that it can to support businesses through this important change.

Let me be clear: Leeds City Council will not make money from charges. Charge revenue will only be used to cover the costs of operating the zone, to support owners of vehicles affected and for other schemes to improve air quality. The less money raised the better — because it means we are reducing the number of polluting vehicles in the city.

By working together as a city to tackle pollution, we can best protect the health of everyone in Leeds.

Challenge is to spread excellence

Coun Dan Cohen, Shadow Spokesman for Children and Families, Alwoodley Ward, Leeds City Council

I write in relation to your recent story regarding secondary school performance in Leeds following the publication of league tables by the Department for Education (‘Students should be proud as school league tables published’, YEP, January 25).

It is good to see that school performance at secondary level has improved and that pupils in our city are now progressing at the national average with attainment also above average nationally. I have been concerned about uneven performance at secondary level for some time and taken in the round these tables do suggest that the city is heading in the right direction. Not everything is perfect however and there is work to be done to improve schools that, despite the best efforts of all concerned, continue to perform significantly below national averages and have done for some time.

In my own ward I am really pleased to see that Allerton High and the Leeds Jewish Free School are performing at such a high level. I am a governor at both these schools and am therefore able to see first-hand the excellent work of staff and pupils and I am delighted that both of these schools rank so highly on both progress 8 and attainment measures in Leeds.

We have some excellent schools in Leeds with many performing really well. The challenge is to try to spread this excellence more widely by sharing good practice and ensuring that all pupils in Leeds have a strong performing local school.

Our schools, pupils and staff should all be proud of these latest league tables and I can only hope that their hard work continues to deliver further improvement in the years to come.

Now we know the facts, let’s think again

Andrew Jeffery, Denby Dale

I HAVE been engaged in the motor industry all my life, working for a manufacturer and as head of business for franchised dealers, including DM Keith in Leeds. I started as an apprentice at Wallace Arnold in Leeds, where I later became a shareholder.

This country has a vibrant and extensive automotive industry. Jaguar Land Rover employs 40,000 people and there are a further 120,000 employed in their supply chain. With Toyota, Honda, Peugeot, Nissan and others, thousands of cars are assembled in this country. Seventy per cent are exported, with 50 per cent going to Europe. The other big market is China and that market has stalled.

Around 850,000 people are employed in the industry and 1,100 trucks cross the English Channel every day with components to fulfil ‘‘just in time’’ supply.

The industry is already facing headwinds following the unfair demonisation of diesel and the downturn in the Chinese market. If we leave the European Union, the automotive industry will suffer tariffs and customs delays. The impact on suppliers, in particular, will be enormous, with a high risk of job losses.

I believe that we should remain in the European Union now these facts have come to light. I am sure that if we were to hold another referendum, with this new information clear to voters, the majority would decide to remain.

You might even agree, having seen how the structural decline of UK industry is being exacerbated by Brexit, that the time is right for a new party that acknowledges fact over fiction when tackling our economic problems – like Renew, for example.

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