YEP Letters: March 3

27 February 2018 ....... A train leaves Leeds station in a dusting of snow in the centre of Leeds. Picture Tony Johnson

Check out today’s YEP letters

Snow: What kind of a nation are we?

Hilary Andrews, Leeds.

WHAT kind of a nation are we turning into when rail journeys are cancelled because of weather predictions?

Many of these are wrong and, surely, 
it is better to wait and see than to look like wimps in the face of a few (predicted) snowflakes.

In countries with vast amounts of snow, life goes on as normal whereas our pathetic nation cancels everything at the drop of a hat.

‘Punishment tax’ would have done no good

Michael Richardson, Leeds.

AS one of the so called “outsiders” who has spent his entire working life dreaming about and saving for a holiday cottage in the Yorkshire Dales, the proposal to punish second home owners with a punitive 500 per cent council tax bill – now vetoed – left me with rather a sick feeling in the stomach.

Ignoring the legitimacy of this and the absence of any real evidence for such action, I firmly believe that a punishment tax on second homes, with no action whatever on holiday lets, would not have accomplished anything other than marginalising second home owners, encouraging them to find ways to avoid the tax in the first place and prejudicing the money they bring into the area for repair and renovation work on often neglected property.

There’s also the matter of the money they pour into local pubs, restaurants and shops when they and their families visit. For decades people have been moving away from the Dales to find work. And that will continue until there is better paid work in the area to keep people there. It’s called demographic change.

But the exodus was underway well before the surge in property prices and was driven by young people spreading their wings, going to college and university and not coming back.

This was obviously linked to job prospects elsewhere, but lifestyle choices come into it as well and the countryside became less appealing for the younger generations who wanted to broaden their horizons. Also, this is a National Park, so by its very nature it is largely a tourist and agricultural area with service industry around that. BT won’t open a call centre in Kettlewell any time soon and I don’t think anyone really wants them to.

Follow that with a couple of late-night bars in Grassington, a multi-screen cinema and McDonalds at Cracoe, a sports centre with floodlit all-weather football pitches near Starbotton and you will soon have a thriving urban sprawl that with good planning will stretch all the way from Skipton to Buckden Pike! I’m being facetious of course but that is what so called “thriving” areas look like in 2018. Second homers are portrayed as the villains here but, and I am sorry to say it, local people have been more than happy to sell at high prices or rent cottages out (their second homes in effect) as holiday lets.

That’s their choice but it doesn’t help the schools or local services one jot and this needs to be considered as the issue is revisited.

No respect for democracy

Dick Lindley, Altofts

SO now we know for certain that the Labour Party has absolutely no interest in or respect for democracy.

Jeremy Corbyn appears to have completely reversed his previous promise to respect the views of the majority of British voters who voted for Brexit, most of whom believed that Brexit really did mean escaping from the clutches of the EU and all its idiotic rules.

I have no idea how the Corbynites are going to sell this reversal of policy to their voters, but many of their supporters will be shocked and infuriated by this betrayal of trust. I suppose, like all socialist organisations, the Labour Party supports democracy only in so far as it delivers the results which the party’s leaders require, otherwise, as we have seen in socialist regimes the world over, they will completely ignore the legitimate aspirations of ordinary people.

We should celebrate HS2

David Reed, Huddersfield

DR David Hill (YEP Letters February 23) says HS2 is a pointless scheme going nowhere fast, but the only things going nowhere are our vital East and West Coast Main Lines.

With a doubling of passengers since privatisation, and with continued growth forecast, our hugely important main lines from London to the North are close to breaking point. Without HS2, the future is a drastically overcrowded and increasingly dysfunctional railway, and at a huge cost to our regional economy. Alternate ways of meeting the required capacity increase have all been found to be immensely disruptive and more expensive than a brand new railway.

Like many commentators, he overlooks the fact that significantly reducing the journey time from the capital to Manchester and Yorkshire will dramatically improve the Northern regional economy, just as HS1 in the South East has transformed the area it serves.

Imagine you are an inward investor deciding where to expand your business. What about the North? With a two-hour link to and from the all-important capital and three hours from Heathrow? No thanks. But what if the journey time from the capital is only one hour, and under an hour from Heathrow and the West Midlands? Suddenly the North is a much more attractive place for inward investment.

HS2 will free up a huge amount of capacity on the existing network for new commuter, regional, and freight services which cannot be provided today because there is not sufficient capacity.

HS2 will be immensely popular, just like the high speed railways in France, Germany, Italy and Spain. As in Europe, there will be a range of fares, expensive for the businesman booking at the last minute who wants flexibility, but very cheap, as today, for the leisure traveller booking ahead. HS2 will pay for its running costs from fares revenue and make substantial repayments to the taxpayer, just as our current main lines do today (Virgin is in difficulty only because it chose to bid too high a premium to the Government for the East Coast route). When we ran short of capacity on our A-road network, we didn’t tinker with the existing roads, we built motorways. HS2 is the M1 of the railways, a magnificent 21st century railway linking 12 of our biggest conurbations at high speed. Can we not just celebrate that, for once, we are investing for the future and catching up with the rest of Europe?

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