YEP Letters: March 5

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Check out today’s letters from your YEP.

Academies should return to public control

Victoria Jaquiss, Leeds

Have we have returned to “olden” times, when anyone with the money or the power could set up schools and educate our country’s children entirely according to their own personal philosophy, and not one answerable to the public?

This time it’s Bruntcliffe School in Morley, which is joining the Gorse Academy Group (YEP, February 13), this empire beginning with Morley School itself.

No one thinks our schools are perfect, but in my experience and opinion they are generally doing a good job, and often in challenging circumstances.

When I taught it was the children who presented the challenges, but now it is the powers that be.

And increasingly the powers that be are not our elected representatives.

From Ofsted to academies’ chiefs, these are most certainly undemocratic.

And, as well-intentioned as Gorse Academy principal John Townsley MBE most certainly is, no one voted for him to make any educational decisions on their behalf.

We now have a situation where people who live in Morley are no longer able to send their child to “school” in Morley.

The recent parliamentary Education Select Committee reports that there is “no evidence of academies improving standards at a faster rate than other schools.”

Furthermore Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, is “concerned about the scope for unacceptable behaviour” as far as how academies are run.

Academisation is not an educational philosophy; it is part of the privatisation of a public service.

It is millions of pounds’ worth of land and buildings being handed over to private individuals and businesses.

And it is only the start. Education should be about individual children’s needs, not their schools’ ranking in some quite unscientific league table.

Academies are not just free of local authority control, they are out of control – and the sooner that all schools return to public ownership and public accountability, the better.

Youth service hit by the cuts

Iain Dalton, Leeds

Your article ‘No U-turns as Leeds City Council budget is stamped’ (YEP, February 26) reports on the opposition by Tory and Lib Dem councillors to parts of the Labour group’s budget.

Yet it ignores the 60 or so people protesting outside the council chamber against this fifth cuts budget presided over by Labour.

A lively component of this demonstration, organised by Leeds TUC, was of third-year youth work students who face a future of unemployment as even before this budget the council’s youth service had already seen cuts of 50 per cent. As your article concludes, “there was broad agreement” in the council chamber.

The real opposition to the budget will be mounted at the polls this May as anti-austerity campaigners in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, the Alliance for Green Socialism and Left Unity will be mounting the largest no cuts challenge to all the main parties.

Get tough on killer drivers

R Kimble, Hawksworth

It infuriates me that drivers who kill because of talking on mobile phones only get charged with careless or death by dangerous driving.

I would argue that it is manslaughter at the very least as you know you are putting others at risk if you do this.

There was a case of someone getting seven years for this recently. I wrote to Cameron’s office asking why only seven years?

I got a reply from The Ministry Of Justice explaining that governments make the laws and judges implement them.

Gosh, I’m 61 years old and I didn’t know this fact!

How patronising and not once did the reply address my central question about such low sentences for killing someone.

Tough on law and order?

Shedding light on secret tunnel

Pam Clough, Leeds

I WRITE in response to the can of worms recently opened by Gary Hunt in regard to the “mystery tunnel” which runs from Northern Street to Queen’s Street (YEP, February 15).

My husband, Gordon Clough, started working for Elida Gibbs in 1961 and remembers using the tunnel quite often.

It started in the Tube Cellar where there was a ramp. Facing the ramp was a bay and the tunnel started through that bay.

It ran to the the old City Station and ended in a flight of stairs leading to an office where goods were checked in from the trains and then loaded via the tower, which is still standing, on to lorries to be taken to the factory.

I got a lot of this information from Roy Healey and I am sure that Mr Hunt remembers both Roy and my husband.

I see red over green politics

Malcolm Nicholson, Barwick-in-Elmet

Why is anyone surprised by the Green’s leader Natalie Bennett’s complete inability to work out simple sums on housing costs?

Her party’s ridiculous, strident support for trivial, part-time wind turbines as a replacement for reliable nuclear power stations proves that there must be a great many completely innumerate, impractical people in the Green Party.

There’s nothing cuddly about reducing the economy to ashes, appeasing dictators and turning the country’s entire defence force into Dads Army.

Yet one can guarantee that a swathe of mainly young people keener on Left-wing ideology than facts intends to vote Green regardless.

Paying up to spend a penny

Mel Smart, Farsley

There was uproar recently regarding toilet charges at Leeds Railway Station.

My wife and I sailed from Hull to Belgium recently and once there we decided to travel by train to Ostend.

Whilst at the station we decided to use the “facilities” and were charged 50 eurocents each for the privilege.

So Leeds Station is not on its own. When you have to go, you have to go.

There was a lady attendant in charge of both the Ladies and the Gents and I must say they were spotless. So no complaints.