YEP Letters: March 30

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Check out today’s YEP letters

Give Eddie Izzard a knighthood

Jack Banner, Meanwood

On Easter Monday we watched an astounding programme on BBC 2.

It told the fascinating story of Eddie Izzard and his superhuman efforts to raise money for Sport Relief. His plan was to run 27 marathons in 27 days to honour his hero Nelson Mandela who spent 27 years in prison.

However, his plans were thrown into disarray when he was hospitalised for a day. Not to be deterred, he decided that on the final day of his self set challenge he would in fact run a double marathon. It was obvious at times that he was mentally and physically exhausted but he carried on and did what he said he would. If anyone had told me that I would ever be petitioning to have Eddie Izzard knighted then I would have thought them mad! It’s true, Eddie is hard!


Crisis will get worse before it gets better

John Davies, Hands off our Homes

You were certainly right to place a large question mark after the headline “Housing Crisis Solved” as the article that followed served up little new save for the fact that the number of proposed homes to be built by 2028 has reduced to 66,000 from the 70,000 originally announced in the Core Strategy.

But there is no guarantee that those properties will be built as it is all (or mostly) in the hands of the private developers. If we were to ignore the nonsensical rants of DS Boyes (Letters March 28) regarding immigration and ease of obtaining Housing Benefit s/he has a point about the demand for houses outstripping supply. However the cause of that imbalance has a lot to do with the builders.

At the end of last year the nine housebuilders in the FTSE 100 &250 held 615,152 housing plots in their landbanks but rather than build the four largest gave £1.5 billion to their shareholders.

If passed into law, rather than subsidise Housing Associations, the Housing and Planning Bill will subsidise the private building of “starter homes” at prices up to £250,000 outside of London.

These are meant to be affordable but they are way out of the reach of the average earner in Leeds.

Home ownership for the majority is simply an aspiration and many wait longingly on a council house waiting list for a truly affordable and presently secure, home to rent.

But the same Housing Bill will force councils to sell off more of their homes on the open market and extend the Right to Buy to Housing Associations.

If only councils had the ability to finance and build properties and retain the rental income rather than being shackled by central government who claim that matters as important as housing should be left to “the market” which is so obviously failing to deliver.

Further, rather than relying on PFI the residents of Sherburn Court might even have a lift that works! Finally can I take a quick look at housing benefits – much of which is paid to those who are in work or pensioners and not simply the sole preserve of those unfortunate enough to be out of work.

Osborne’s HB cuts likely in October are going to take over £14m out of the hands of Leeds tenants which is in addition to the £4m lost due to the Bedroom Tax.

This is likely to lead to an inability for rents to be paid in full to landlords whether they be private, council or Housing Association. Evictions will rocket.

What is the council going to do when potentially thousands of families and 12,000 children become homeless?

I anticipate the housing crisis will get a whole lot worse before it ever gets better.

Keeping the streets clean

John Appleyard, Liversedge

Near where I live a woman can be seen most mornings picking up litter and disposing it in a bin before she calls at the shop.

I thought of this lady when I was listening to BBC Radio 4s ‘Costing the Earth’ and the issue of litter. The Keep Britain Tidy Group which has been in existence for over 60 years is very much aware that more waste is being generated and disposed in an era of fast food, eating on the go, disposable cups and cans.

The Tidy Group believes that the Government should be raising awareness of the problems with litter. Speakers on the programme noted how clean things were in Switzerland where they have teams of litter ambassadors talking to people which has led to much reduction in litter.

In the mid 1980s there was concern in the state of Texas of the amount of rubbish being thrown out of cars - they came out with the slogan - ‘don’t mess with Texas’ and reduced litter on Texas highways by 70 per cent. In the UK some local authorities have introduced on the spot fines for the dropping of cigarettes in the street.

The simple message for all of us is to take our rubbish home or dispose it in the appropriate bins that are provided around areas where we live.

Martin Kelner: your views

B Smith, Leeds 7

According to reports, Radio Leeds is taking a new direction.

What direction is that then – deeper mediocrity? Among the small handful of skilful presenters, Martin Kelner has entertained us for many years.

There was a time when, after the Breakfast Show, we could listen to a host of brilliant presenters – Peter Levy, John Boyd et al, all day, whereas now we are hailed by a succession of inarticulate, fast talking gabblers who start out by assuring us that we are about to listen to ‘a great show’ and proceed laugh at their own jokes, patronise callers and. like some of the airport taxi drivers, display that they have little knowledge of West Yorkshire by repeatedly pronouncing place names incorrectly (there has never been a letter ‘Z’ in Hunslet). They conduct puerile interviews where laughter is generated as if by machine. All this is fitted round ‘acceptable’ BBC middle-of-the-road music. Even in days of digital radio, some presenters can only be half understood and would benefit from speech therapy.

We were brought up, in local radio, with local celebrities like John Helm, Mike McGowan, Trevor Thewlis and such professionals, who handed on the legacy. Richard Osman, among many celebrities, has gone on record to support Martin, our air waves will not be the same – it was a pointless exercise.

M Sure, Leeds 17

I was very disappointed and upset to hear that Martin Kelner a brilliant broadcaster has been sacked, well that’s the opinion of lots of people I know and we can’t understand why. In fact he was the best presenter on Radio Leeds. Hope Radio Leeds realise what they have done.

Martin Berger, Leeds 16

As a regular listener to Radio Leeds I wish to add my name to the outcry regarding the sacking of Martin Kelner.

The presenters and DJs of the programme are all good at their jobs but Martin has a great gift and is exceptional in his field. The circumstances and details of his dismissal should be investigated at the highest level and I suggest should be made public.

Why bother?

T Crawford, by email

We are often told of the attractions of Leeds as a shopping centre thanks to new developments by major companies. But what about the little fellow? Once a mainstay of our economy, an entrepreneurial and hard working small shopkeeper had a good chance of creating a much bigger business eventually. However, more and more obstacles are being placed in the way of such ambitions.

Anyone thinking of risking his capital and his future as an independent small shopkeeper must be either a super optimist or a masochist. Consider just one example which would surely cause a would be shopkeeper to hesitate in hazarding his money in such an enterprise, namely, taking on just one employee.

He looks hard at this young man seeking employment. Someone who may never have had a real full time job before. Someone unused to the minor disciplines of the workplace such as turning up on time and then working conscientiously at the job for hours. The potential employer thinks: “every 60 minutes I’ll have to fork out £7.20 for this bloke. If he turns out to be hopeless I’ll have a heck of struggle to sack him. He might even sue me. I’ll also have to provide him with a workplace pension and maybe an apprenticeship levy. Why should I bother?” On top of all this are the never ending EU rules heaped on the small employer. It really is a wonder that anyone does indeed bother.