YEP Letters: June 2

Have your say

Just who is voting to stay in EU?

June Warner, Kirk Deighton

Who exactly is voting to remain in the EU?

There are only three significant groups:

1) Those who cannot see the realities of the EU but just love the idea of us all working as one. The ‘EU is cuddlesome lobby’. Great, maybe, if that had only been what it was really like.

2) The duped. Those people who listen to the same Europhile deceits, lies and false promises that were made by politicians back in 1975 – and the new generation is falling for it all over again. Well done Europhiles – if it worked then – so very wise to use it again now.

3) The fearful. Those people who have been terrified out of their skins by the scaremongers.

Well done Europhiles. You have scared the living daylights out of millions. A real referendum winner.

View of scheme from Quarry Hill is ‘disastrous’

Dr Kevin Grady, Director, Leeds Civic Trust

In their letters (YEP 25 and 28 May) Ivan Kovacks and A Ward) express their horror at the design and overbearing impact of the John Lewis store development and car park on Eastgate, and ask why Leeds Civic Trust objected only to the ‘Hollywood sign’ on the top of the building rather than to the whole development.

The fact is that over almost a decade of the development and implementation, the Hammerson Eastgate scheme has changed considerably from the scheme which received planning permission.

Originally it was to be on land on both north and south of Eastgate, and its massive carpark was to be built out of sight north of Eastgate up against the Inner Ring Road.

Subsequently permission was given for the iconic John Lewis store on the south side of Eastgate.

The original design had the diagrid white patterned façade on all four sides with significantly more windows on the Eastgate frontage.

It was in the Trust’s view an attractive and memorable design. Since then the animation at Eastgate pavement level and above has been reduced by the blocking up of intended windows to accommodate a change in position of the store’s lifts.

At the same time, the belated opportunity to demolish Mill Garth Police Station has permitted the building of the massive car park on the west end of the John Lewis store, thus replacing what would otherwise have been a very attractive elevation of the store.

It was the City Council which granted permission for these changes.

To add to insult to injury, permission has also been granted for the apron of land in front of the John Lewis multi-storey car park facing the Playhouse to be used as a surface car park for about 60 cars.

The Trust has strongly objected to this, suggesting that the land should be used, at least in the short term, as a pocket park for the public to enjoy. However, Hammerson has asserted, and the City Council agreed, that the revenue from 60 parking spaces is more important for the city than restoring some degree of humanity to the east end of Eastgate.

Viewed from Vicar Lane and George Street the Victoria Gate/John Lewis scheme is attractive and its facilities will be a great asset to the city.

However, viewed from Quarry Hill it is pretty disastrous.

The scheme has turned its back on Quarry Hill and done nothing to promote the much needed integration of Quarry Hill and its wonderful cultural amenities into the rest of the city centre.

As your correspondents quite rightly say, the car park is totally overbearing and dominates even the John Lewis store itself, which significantly has no entrances on the lower part of Eastgate.

The Trust’s highly public objection to the intrusive 3.5 metre-high John Lewis sign on the top of the store was prompted by both anger at the adverse changes to the scheme since it originally got planning permission and incredulity at John Lewis’ assertion that it will be at least two or three years before people know where the John Lewis store is!

Learn from bus scheme errors

Carl Brooke, Leeds

In July 2012, when it was announced that the government had provisionally agreed to provide the majority of the funding for trolleybus, Leeds City Council’s Chief Executive Tom Riordan said: “This is fantastic news... It will make a real difference to linking up the parts of the city that need it to the city centre.”

James Lewis, the current deputy leader of the council called the scheme:“Job-creating, economy-boosting, environment-improving, time-saving, carbon-reducing, congestion-busting.”

Mark Goldstone of the Chamber of Commerce said: “We see this as the first plank of a city region-wide integrated transport system.”

Conservative MP for Pudsey Stuart Andrew described the scheme as “a good fit for the city” (YEP 6 July 2012).

And Leeds Civic Trust’s director Kevin Grady said: “We believe that it is in the best interests of the city as a whole.”

These and the many other civic and business leaders who supported trolleybus have been unusually quiet since an inspector’s report concluded that the scheme would not be in the best interests of the city as a whole; would not form part of an integrated transport system; would not link the parts of the city that need it to the city centre; would harm the environment and would neither reduce carbon levels nor levels of congestion.

In fact, in a report that was several hundred pages long, the inspector had almost nothing good to say about the scheme.

You would have thought that in the wake of such a damning report, there would have been resignations.

But there hasn’t even been an apology.

Worse than that, the leader of the council, Judith Blake is reported as having said that trolleybus is “so last week” (YEP 19 May 2016).

Whilst it’s understandable that Councillor Blake should want to put behind her the embarrassment of the last ten years and the millions wasted on trolleybus, surely she should be taking time to digest the inspector’s report and learn from the mistakes of the past, instead of careering ahead to the next major vanity project.

And surely after the fiasco that was trolleybus she should display a great deal more humility and a less flippant disregard for the consequences of her and her colleagues’ support for the scheme.

A Yorkshire European

Dr Brian Lewis, Pontefract

I sometimes tour the Indian State of Gujarati talking about education and modernisation.

When they ask me where I come from I say am “a European Yorkshireman and a Citizen of the World”.

Since we speak the same world language they ask me why I don’t mention Great Britain and I reply: “Because I don’t know it in the way that I know the people and the cultures of Yorkshire.”

I came here to live here in Pontefract as an immigrant from Birmingham when I was 23, I am now 79, so how identify myself is based on experience.

My knowledge of the county is extensive, my love absolute. On the other hand, I know next to nothing about Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Windsor Great Park, Virginia Water, Eton, Boris’s idyllic farm south of Bristol, and too much about the oligarchs’ flats in Mayfair and women in Sloane Square who wear fur coats which cost the GNP equivalent of a couple of Indian villages.

I do not identify with them, most either disgust or bore me.

Does that make me insular? Not really. I get my political philosophy – Liberty, Equality, Fraternity – from France, my passion for tolerance from Voltaire, my love of art from Rembrandt, music from Mozart and Schubert, a love of folksy literature from Burns, my self-belief from Da Vinci and the need to keep it under control from Socrates.

My German wife is a feminist.

Europe has nurtured me and because it has embraced me I name it as the place where I live.

I will vote to stay. For I continue to believe in parliamentary democracy, in the Welfare State, the destruction of tax havens, quick prosecution for tax avoidance and attacks of anything which supports this class ridden society.

I also have no time for referendums which are tools in Tory coups and threatens to damage both Yorkshire and Europe.

I am indebted to European culture in the same way as I am to my adopted county.