YEP Letters: July 26

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Check out today’s YEP letters

City’s ‘inept’ public transport history

ME Wright, Harrogate.

It’s going to take yet another ten years to upgrade the Leeds public transport network.

It took about the same time to build London’s Crossrail 1, so at long last, Leeds will be entering the 21st century.

Or will she? The detail promises no such thing. The city’s recent and inept public transport history is set to continue along the same ‘down to a price, not up to a standard’ route.

The word ‘Metro’ conjures up images of the Paris tube or Manchester’s trams – both equally effective and efficient.

Could that confusing word please be replaced on the Leeds shelters with the drearily honest ‘bus stop’?

Northern economy loses out again

Coun Neil Dawson, Morley South, Labour

Chris Grayling’s announcement on Northern Powerhouse Rail is the latest U-turn by this Tory government and abandons the commitment given by George Osborne and previous Tory administration to significantly upgrade and electrify the Transpennine link from Manchester to York.

The suggestion that this is because new technology is now available is a complete smokescreen.

Joint diesel electric trains are not new, they have been around since the 1960s, and are still operating on the rail network.

This is about downgrading investment in Northern cities, ignoring rail users and not supporting the Northern economy. The benefits of electrification and of upgrading the capacity on the Transpennine line remain enormous but Chris Graying has gone for a minimum cost option that will lead to barely any improvements for the economy in this region. The whole project has been put into a siding.

The Northern economy again loses out when compared with the large rail investment in the south east, the £16 billion investment in Crossrail, and the prospect of a further £31 billion investment in Crossrail 2.

Ride with some consideration

From: Chris Williams, Leeds Road, Birstall

I am in total agreement with Neil Hudson’s comments on cyclists racing along the canal towpath (‘Beware The Speed Monkeys’, YEP, July 22). I write as a cyclist who was been commuting to and from work for the last 18 years and one who is appalled to see these riders rushing past pedestrians, having no regard for their safety.

In any space that is shared with pedestrians, it is the cyclist’s responsibility to slow down and give way to people on foot. This applies to an even greater extent when there is a family with small children walking. What if a youngster suddenly changes direction and walks in front of the rider doing 20mph plus? It is not the duty of a parent to constantly look out for speeding riders shooting past them, often from behind.

It would probably help if the council placed signs on the towpath saying ‘Cyclists: please slow down when approaching pedestrians’.

Those who want to race each other and whizz along at high speeds should use the roads. Otherwise ride with some consideration.

Restrictions on road users

Paul Annis, by email

Mrs J Green (YEP Letters, July 14) thinks I missed the point of her previous letter (July 6), so she has repeated it. In essence her argument is founded on the erroneous belief that a motorist has a special entitlement to use the roads, because he or she has a legal responsibility to pay vehicle excise duty (VED), pay insurance, pay for the vehicle itself and pay for the maintenance of the vehicle.

She thinks it is unfair on motorists that cyclists, in her words, “have no such restrictions”. As I pointed out in my previous letter ( July12), the cyclist is not required to pay VED because the use of a bicycle produces no harmful emissions, and is also not required to pay for insurance because a bicycle poses very little danger to other road users. This is eminently fair, on both points. However, cyclists do have to pay for their vehicles, and also either pay for the necessary maintenance or do it themselves, if they have the tools, time, and ability.

In addition to these financial restrictions, the cyclist is also bound by legal restrictions. The Highway Code covers cyclists as well as pedestrians, horse riders, and motorists, and has a special section, Annex 1, which requires cyclists to ensure that lights, reflectors, tyres, chain, brakes, etc. are correctly adjusted and working efficiently. If the bicycle is not properly maintained, the person most at risk is the cyclist. Therefore bicycles in regular use tend to be well maintained. Mrs Green remarks that horse riders “do use their bridleways”. Yes, they do, but they are not legally required to use them to the exclusion of other routes.

For their own safety, horse riders, pedestrians, and cyclists are not allowed to use motorways but may legally travel along all other classes of road.

These roads are there for the use of everyone, and drivers of motor vehicles do not, under law, “take preference” (I think she means “precedence”) over other road users. I am certainly not, as Mrs Green thinks, “peeved that I have to stick to the main roads”, because that is exactly what I do not have to do!

Cyclists cannot be required to use the cycleway any more than drivers can be required to use particular types of road.

All road users are free to choose the route they prefer, just as they may choose the vehicle they prefer. The fact that some vehicles cost more to buy and maintain than do others is irrelevant to any consideration of the user’s legal right to use the road.

Mrs Green clearly envies the cyclist’s freedom from the heavier financial burden and legal restrictions of the owner of a motor vehicle. Perhaps she should take up cycling!

Give teachers the praise they deserve

Roger Pope, Chair of the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL)

As another school year ends, I am writing to encourage people in Leeds to celebrate a teacher who encouraged, inspired or supported them during their school years.

It’s important we thank teachers who work one-to-one with pupils, inspiring the next generation and ensuring they receive all the support they need to succeed.

Yet, we often don’t take time to thank our teachers, or realise the encouragement they provide and the lasting impact they can have. That’s why I’m supporting the national Get Into Teaching campaign to give teachers the praise they deserve, and encourage people to consider teaching as a career.

Everyone can get involved and say thanks to a teacher with a Tweet or Instagram post, copying in the hashtag #thankateacher. Teaching can be a career full of rewards, and as the summer holidays begin, there is still time for graduates and potential career changers in Leeds to apply now to start teacher training this September.

Help for new mothers

Nick Wilkie, CEO, NCT

NCT (National Childbirth Trust) has just launched a campaign called #HiddenHalf to help new mothers in Yorkshire with mental health problems get the treatment they need. Our research found nearly half of new mothers’ mental health problems did not get picked up by a doctor or other health professional. The six-week postnatal check is an ideal opportunity to pick up on emotional and mental health problems, but many new mothers don’t get a full or supportive appointment and are slipping through the net.

NCT is urging people to sign up to the Hidden Half campaign at to change the system so that all new mothers get the support and treatment they need. We have a free helpline (0300 330 0700) for anyone who’d like to discuss any issue around pregnancy, childbirth or being a new parent and our local branch may be able to help too.