GARY Verity’s remarkable record in successfully promoting Yorkshire means that his words deserve to be heeded.
So when he says it’s time to pull together to help push tourism as a major economic driver, one expects to see results.
Unfortunately, in one important aspect, tourism is going backwards not forwards – the superbly placed and welcoming Leeds Visitors’ Centre at Leeds railway station is about to close.
Publicly-owned Network Rail has hiked the rent and the Leeds City Council, faced with the need to make budget cuts, says it cannot afford the £50,000 in annual subsidy.
After the council had made this decision, I wrote to Gary Verity and he referred me back to the city council which had made the negative decision!
Not to be defeated, I then wrote to Leeds Conservative MP Stuart Andrew who had spoken in Parliament on the kindred issue of the airport.
Seven weeks later, I received a letter on behalf of Mr Andrew saying that as I was not his constituent he could not raise the matter!
I replied immediately that this was a Leeds city matter and not a constituency issue, whereupon I was told that this was not a priority.
So, by going to a Leeds Conservative MP, Stuart Andrew, and trying to make it a cross-party issue, and also approaching Gary Verity, I lost some two crucial months, when representations could have been to the landlord, Network Rail.
This centre is always busy, particularly when there are events on at the Arena and elsewhere in the city. On the day of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France last July, some 4,500 visitors came through its doors. The council proposes to transfer it to a site underneath the public library on The Headrow, which no-one coming into the station will bother to find.
Leeds will lose out on repeat visits from those who currently experience the warm welcome that the centre’s excellent staff provide.
While it is still – just – open, all is not lost. Cannot Gary Verity and our MPs combine to ensure its rescue?
Michael Meadowcroft, Pudsey
Politics of cuts to services
I agree with Councillor Lisa Mulherin (Your Views, December 27), as someone who has to use council services for my disabled son, cuts to services are a real worry.
Having been a single parent with my own son for nigh on 25 years, always managing to continue working until this last year, more cuts to services would not only affect the user but the carers which no doubt would see many forced to give up work, increasing council costs.
It’s funny though, looking at this (unelected) Government’s spending plans, how some councils, many in affluent Conservative voting areas, seem to be actually having increases in their budgets. There wouldn’t be a election looming would there?
But George Osborne has to find ways to offset his increased borrowing as his tax returns are low, due to the fact that some large corporations avoid paying it and most of the wonderful new jobs they crow about have been shown to be welfare dependent, minimum wage, part-time, temporary or zero-hour contracts.
The countries that are thriving are the ones that manufacture, but we know who decimated that, which has ultimately led to the welfare dependent mess we see now.
Still, at least the richest have seen year-on-year growth in their wealth for 35 years.
Mark Norris, Leeds
Shedding light on cash row
I READ that Leeds City Council got a £6.6m boost from a lights row (Your Views, December 23).
It seems the council, who signed a 25-year PFI contract with Tay Valley Lighting in 2006, have been in dispute for years over maintaining them as agreed.
What is just as confusing is how last year’s council electricity bills increased by 40 per cent, even though £94m was spent on a project to reduce energy consumption.
Who in their right mind would spend this amount only to make matters worse?
A Hague, Harehills
We bear cost of New Year’s Eve
The YEP described (January 2) how excess alcohol ruined New Year’s Eve for hundreds across Yorkshire with arguments, assaults and injuries.
For some healing will take a very long time. Substantial pressure was heaped on emergency services as they struggled to cope.
We are all going to pay for that in taxes or loss of other valuable services.
It must be time that we move towards celebrating New Year with positive acts, not mayhem, ruined relationships and hangovers. The main beneficiaries of high alcohol sales are the companies that produce and control the sales of alcohol while the community bears the cost.
New Year’s resolutions to drink less may help a little but we need to come together as individuals, communities, local and national government to agree how New Year 2016 can be better for all.
Talk to family and friends, with an election in May let us get our politicians involved too.
I should declare two sources of bias in my comments: I am a public health physician and really feel angry when distress, disease and death could or should have been prevented.
Also, as a Quaker, I regret anything that takes away from the unique value and preciousness of human life.
Martin Schweiger, Leeds
Use volunteer police more
John Theobald asks why we don’t use volunteers for tasks such as searching for evidence when a crime has been committed (Your Views, January 2).
The answer is that we already have a volunteer police force – they are the Special Constabulary, and I am sure they would be more than willing to do as he has suggested.
They are trained to the same standard as regular police officers, the only difference is they do not get paid.
Sadly, unless they are requested by a higher ranking regular officer to assist, there is nothing they can do.
Perhaps if we all shout loud enough, common sense will prevail, thus freeing regular officers to do their job.
Sylvia Wright, Bramley
Time to see the banking truth
It’s really amazing that it’s taken nearly five years of this country putting up with this rabble of a ConDem coalition for people such as the former Governor of the Bank of England and other economists of renown to say what all sensible people thought – which is that the economic collapse of 2008 was NOT the sole fault of the Labour government.
For nearly five years we’ve had Osborne, Cameron and their stooge Clegg banging on about how the global economic mess was all caused by Labour.
The fat cat bankers of course were shielded by the Tories and their supporters for obvious reasons, this being that those with the most money made a killing out of the manner in which worldwide banking was operating.
Alan Thorpe, Whitkirk
Looking for 60s squaddie Tony
I wonder if, through your paper, I can trace an old army friend? A Leeds-born lad, we served together in Germany in the early sixties.
His name is Tony Thirkell and he used to live at 23 Grosvenor Street or Terrace.
I tried this address while I was a long distance driver in Birmingham but no luck.
I hope you can help me out as I would love to hear from him.
Mal Caudwell, Wales