YEP Letters: July 28

Have your say

I WONDER just what the detractors of the Leeds Trolleybus scheme hope to achieve with their Luddite tendencies, and ask if they can offer a viable alternative, because something is certainly needed to give Leeds a transport service to match its position as one of the leading commercial and cultural centres in the north of England.

The current level of provision falls a long way short of what should be on offer to serve a city of its size and complexity and is an embarrassment when compared with what is seen elsewhere.

A visit to Manchester will effectively illustrate the point.

Although the Leeds suburban railway network is partly electrified, the lack of stations is a serious deficiency.

For example, travellers from Shipley presently travel non-stop to Leeds, passing a number of former stations which were closed in the 1960s and which would, had they survived, have provided an efficient means of getting to town without struggling through the daily road traffic jams.

Similarly, up to 1959, Leeds also had an efficient if somewhat outmoded tramway system which was unfortunately killed-off.

Had the tramway been retained and ultimately modernised, there would now exist the basis of an excellent means of moving large numbers of commuters.

Sheffield also lost its tramway a year after the Leeds closure, but did acquire a replacement which has proved very successful in moving the masses up and down the steep hills surrounding the city without adding the pollution associated with the buses which it replaced.

Whereas in days past civic pride ensured that citizens of northern towns and cities were provided with the means to travel easily by public transport, the truth now is that someone intent on using this mode of travel has to be ingenious in the extreme to be able to use it as an effective mode of transport.

BA Anderton, Bridlington

Worthy of a place on wall

In response to the request for suggestions for the Leeds Who’s Who Wall (YEP, July 22), would this person be considered?

John (Jack) William Greenwood was bornin 1862 and died in 1943. He lived all his life in Holbeck.

In 1870, at the age of eight, he started work at Marshalls Flax Mill. He would walk there hand in hand with his childhood sweetheart.

They started work at 6am. The first week was work in the morning and school in the afternoon. The second week the pattern was reversed.

One week he was paid 10p per week, in today’s money, and then 15p the week after.

Aged nine he went as a hurrier at Farnley Wood Bottom Pit, walking there and back each day, until leaving aged 14.

He was apprenticed to iron moulding at Joe Henry’s Foundry, then worked as an iron moulder at John Fowler and Co, until retiring after a working life of 57 years.

In his leisure time as a keen angler, he twice jumped into a river to try to save men’s lives.

In August 1881 he married his childhood sweetheart, Sarah Ellen Middleton. They had 60 years together.

Jack Greenwood was an ordinary working man, but in his own way he contributed so much to the city of Leeds.

He was also my great grandad.

As a young boy I saw him, in a hospital bed, in the last few days of his long life.

To me he would be worthy of a place on the Who’s Who Wall.

David Bird, Cookridge

I carried a rifle while in Israel

Mr J Appleyard (YEP, July 21) apparently accuses British citizens in Israel of being mercenaries.

Well, as an English (Christian) volunteer on an Israeli kibbutz in 1974, I might well have carried – and known how to use – a rifle.

However, I hardly met the classic definition of a mercenary, in other words anyone serving in the armed forces of a foreign country and receiving substantially higher salary than a native-born serviceman of equal rank.

Roger Bates, Shadwell

Firemen should get a new job

Latest reports show West Yorkshire’s striking firefighters are being taught an important, if not salutary, lesson in one of the basic facts of life that every group of workers should understand – no one is indispensible.

Sadly the Fire Brigades Union and Labour Party are misleading them – as, when the regular staff withdraw their labour, the mangement of West Yorkshire Fire Service are duty bound to take every possible measure to ensure the safety of the public and protection of property; and if that involves paying retained firefighters a bit more, so be it.

But you know, in these times of some unemployment plus an alleged cost of living crisis, if I were a striking firefighter I would be worried what the next step by mangaement might be.

Because let’s face it, if they began advertising vacancies for recruits at the Birkenshaw Training Centre, there would be probably 1,000 applicants for every one, regardless of pensions or any other aspect of terms and conditions, because no other manual job has anywhere near the inbuilt job security or early retirement that they enjoy.

Many others have gone down the road of industrial action, the miners, dockers, former Humber pilots, Fleet Street printworkers etc, yet I don’t know any who have succeeded in changing things.

If it’s that bad, maybe they should try their hand at something else?

DS Boyes, Leeds

Public sector is well-rewarded 
I write regarding recent coverage of the recent public sector strikes (YEP, July 11).

In my view it is difficult to justify action that deprives children of a day at school and forces families to miss work and lose pay.

I would therefore like to offer my thanks to those schools in Leeds that did open.

The dedication of those teachers and support staff to remain open highlights both their professionalism and commitment to providing Leeds youngsters with an education.

71 schools remained open in Leeds equivalent to 30 per cent with a further 78 (or 34 per cent) partially opening. Sadly 83 (or 36 per cent) did close, but this still represents a commendable effort on the part of those schools that did open.

One of the main issues in the wider debate has been whether a 15 per cent or 20 per cent show of support for a strike is enough for a Trade Union to justify action.

Clearly it isn’t and it is not valid to make a comparison with elections where turnouts can also be low.

Everyone, if they wish, can vote in a local or general election. They have an opportunity to exercise their democratic right.

That is not the case with a strike ballot where the vote is restricted to members of a particular union.

I am certain that if these ballots were open to the wider public there would be very little support for such action.

It is also worth mentioning salaries in the public sector. At Leeds City Council the average salary has increased from £23,700 in 2010/11 to £25,600 in 2013/14 which is in the region of 7.5 per cent.

Has the same increase happened in the private sector during this period? No.

There are pockets of low pay in the public sector and these should be addressed where possible, but on the whole the public sector is well rewarded both in pay and pension terms.

Councillor Alan Lamb, Conservative Spokesman for Children’s Services