YEP Letters: July 14

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I am astonished and angry that with all the hype by Government bodies regarding people being overcharged for using premium rate telephone numbers, right in the thick of it are Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

We are a small business in Pudsey who regularly have to ring HMRC as part of our daily routine as accountants.

They have, as we all know, reduced their staffing levels and as a result we regularly have to wait listening to inane music and dialogue for 20 to 30 minutes at a time before we get through to a human being.

I have contacted our MP, who has raised the matter with the relevant department.

However, I think it is rich that Government departments have scrapped the local rate charge for the 10p-plus per minute rate and then keep you waiting, all the time racking up charges.

Is this the way this Government is trying to balance the books – at taxpayers’ expense? I wonder how many other companies realise this is going on?

Nic Rowland, Licence Trade Consultants, Pudsey

Bias against movie genres

It’s disheartening to see film reviewer Damon Smith constantly slating action films, Transformers 4 being the latest (YEP, July 8).

I, and the majority of people who go to see them, don’t care about the plot or the acting.

We just want to see things get blown up, we want to see buildings and famous landmarks destroyed. We want to see just how big film makers like Michael Bay can go.

Maybe the YEP should have different reviewers reviewing different film genres, as the action films Damon reviews all coast past the £100m mark within a few days, while the films he gives four or five stars struggle to maintain an audience and are quietly dropped from screens.

Or maybe Damon needs to open his mind a bit more. A film reviewer should not be seen as biased towards genres.

Damian Gale, Meanwood

Free schools are the answer

It was interesting to read Jamie Hanley’s take on the school places crisis affecting Leeds (YEP, July 1) and the blame he places on the Government, conveniently ignoring the role of Leeds City Council’s ruling administration.

Mr Hanley is right – there is a shortage of school places, not just in the Pudsey constituency, but in Leeds generally.

This has been caused by an increase in the birth rate that has placed pressure on primary school places that ultimately will lead through into the secondary sector.

The increase in birth rate has been evident for five years.

What has the ruling administration in Leeds done in that time? Frankly, not enough.

They have accepted Government money to expand existing schools but at the same time have not taken the opportunities available through the free schools programme.

The council could be in dialogue with free school providers to deliver new schools in areas of need.

Instead, for what can only be seen as ideological reasons, they have shut up shop and seem to be saying no to free schools in Leeds.

This is all the more concerning given the part played by free schools and academies in transforming education in London through the London Education Challenge. The LEC succeeded in delivering improved performance across different boroughs, ethnic groups and also children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Surely this is a model Leeds should be adopting and adapting to fit our city?

Free schools and academies offer a fresh approach to driving up performance and providing new schools in areas where there is a clear need.

Ideally they work in partnership with state-run schools and offer more parental choice and the hope of better performance, often in areas where poor schools have been tolerated for far too long.

It is time Leeds City Council took a fresh look at the opportunities these schools provide – new schools with a new ethos aimed at driving up performance, while also providing the added benefit of much needed new school places.

Councillor Alan Lamb, Shadow Executive Board Member for Children’s Services

Demonising the public sector

Referring to a strike only as a ‘day of disruption’ for others is not acceptable.

A member of staff has just been murdered in an NHS mental health unit.

That is the real world, not Frances Maude making nasty remarks about ‘hard working people’ from his position of privilege as if public sector workers are not hard working. In other words, trying to demonise them.

Let’s remind ourselves of the MPs’ last pay rise. I have watched representative after representative of unions apologise for the disruptionthat may be caused to some people.

I find people who do not work in the public sector referring to us as not living in the real world offensive.

I know of council workers who use food kitchens and for whom a one per cent pay rise will equate to 50p per hour.

Instead of criticising public sector staff the likes of Maude, Cameron et al could reflect on the price someone has paid for being a mental health worker and being truly altruistic, unlike modern career politicians who seem to care more about having their photo taken with so-called celebrities – as long as they’ve won something and they can bask in the reflected glory.

Terry Maunder, Leeds

Bad judgment on abuse probe

I am aware that others are similarly worried by the prospect of yet another cover- up regarding investigations into the alleged historical abuse of children by the rich and famous.

We have progressed from celebrities to politicians, but the Government’s response is quite predictable.

The very fact that the female judge appointed to conduct the enquiry is the sister of the late Lord Havers, who was attorney general when some of the controversy over the failure to prosecute child abuse cases could have arisen, is absolutely unbelievable.

It is yet another example of Theresa May being the wrong person for the job and an expert in incompetence.

And in my opinion documents are not lost, they are destroyed for convenience.

Surely someone can take control and provide some justice?

Jack Banner, Meanwood

Commitment we can’t afford

Why are the Lib Dems so intent on destroying our economy? The latest idea of draining our borrowed finances is the idea of Michael Moore, the former Scottish Secretary. He wants to commit Britain to spending 0.7 per cent of our ‘national wealth’ on overseas aid and have it enshrined in law. Any such law would commit the Government to spending £12bn annually (the cost of two aircraft carriers).

This generous commitment would no doubt please the United Nations. We are already the second biggest contributor in the world after America.

The EU would be more 
than happy to take their share. Our bountiful government already gives them 40 per cent of all our overseas aid with no audit trail for them to worry about.

How gullible can so-called intelligent politicians be?

I can think of two trillion reasons why we should ignore this irresponsible idea, that is the amount of our national debt. Our great great grandchildren will not thank us for this stupidity, for they will still be paying off the debt.

Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.

Terry Watson, Adel

YEP Letters: February 19