YEP Letters: May 2

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Check out today’s YEP letters

Beryl Burton brought prestige to city

A Hague, Leeds 9

Regarding who should be the subject of a new female statue in Leeds, the reason I think cyclist Beryl Burton is my choice for bringing the most prestige to Leeds is because she beat the men’s 12-hour record in 1967 with 277.25 miles, by five miles or more.

In the same event (which I watched) her club mate also broke the men’s record (by four miles).

It’s the only event ever that a woman has gone faster than a man’s record. Even today no woman has beaten her record.

If a statue is going to be made she can’t be left out.

Children are our most precious resource

Philippa Lloyd, Farsley

AS a parent, grandparent and great-grandparent, retired teacher, school governor and local NUT secretary, may I congratulate Victoria Jacquiss on her excellent letter in defence of education. (YEP Letters, April 22).

The more I see and hear about what is happening in schools the more appalled I am by what is being ignored by this government.

Headteachers are having to ask parents for money, not for books but also teacher’s salaries. Forty thousand primary school children were in classes of 36 or more last year. 16,655 in classes of 40 plus.

Research shows that the early pre-school years are the most important for child development, yet very many Sure Start centres for young families have been closed.

Our children are our most precious resource, not only for their families but for their nation’s future. How can we afford not to educate them properly?

Why do so many politicians seem to think they know more about education than people who have spent their lives working in and studying it? Why do so many think mainly of the next election and not the long-term outcomes?

As for grammar schools, I am proud to have been among the very first campaigners for comprehensive schools in the 1950s. Studying at training college the education systems in other countries it became clear that we are aiming too low.

Far more children would be capable of far more than the 25 per cent or 30 per cent selected by the 11-plus. Selection means 25 per cent or 30 per cent are chosen. Therefore 75 per cent or 70 per cent are failed. This can be a lifetime rejection.

I still sometimes meet people who say, “I failed my 11-plus”, 30 or 40 years after the event.

Why can Theresa May, who passed the 11-plus, not understand that selection will never help most of the population, but would be more likely to make three quarters feel rejected.

Food banks are an indictment

DS Boyes, Leeds 13

THE growing demand for and obvious need for food banks in Leeds is a terrible indictment of our economy and the politicians who control it.

That people can’t work and pay their own way as previous generations did is a disgrace! I was 10 years old before post-World War Two. Food rationing ended, but although there were no luxuries we never went hungry.

Prime Minister Harold McMillan was right when he said: “You’ve never had it so good” almost 60 years ago, when the long dreamed of £1,000 a year income was within the grasp of many working class people, enabling even home ownership for some. Where did it go wrong? Well the 30-odd years of Mrs Thatcher and Tony Blair in power saw many changes, not for the better.

Major industries like coal, steel, shipbuilding, printing, textiles and clothing manufacture and associated trades e.g. road transport etc. were largely sacrificed to the emerging ‘global’ economy - with even coal imported.

Advanced technology also played a big part in our economic decline, as this eliminated many skilled craft jobs, but that’s progress. It can’t be stopped.

The main problem is that very little new work was ever introduced other than a few jobs in finance, legal, digital, retail and leisure, but these are not enough to cater for the mass or ordinary people of average ability and limited expectations, now condemned to a hopeless life on benefits and even food banks.

The fact that some in full time work today get credits or housing benefit etc. shows that there are no proper jobs and the wages of the ones that exist are too low.

Even the living wage is poor when set against the cost of living e.g rents and house prices.

On Brexit we are not united

Neil Aspland, by email

The Prime Minister has blamed disunity in Westminster for the need to call a general election, and has claimed that the country is united on Brexit.

The country is anything but. What she calls ‘the will of the people’ is the will of just 52 per cent of those who voted in the referendum (the will of 37 per cent of the registered electorate). It is not the majority will of the UK’s young people (who will have to deal with the consequences), nor of the UK’s capital city, nor of two of the UK’s four constituent countries.

With such an unconvincing mandate, one would think that Mrs May would do something for the 48 per cent. Not a bit of it. She is pushing for as hard a Brexit as possible, has tried to bypass Parliament and wasted taxpayers’ money on a pointless Supreme Court appeal.

The SNP is among those being ignored, and it should have come as no surprise when they called for a second independence referendum.

If the UK does break up, Mrs May will be as much to blame as her predecessor as leader of the Conservative Party (official name: the Conservative and Unionist Party).

With no credible opposition, Mrs May will doubtless get a barely deserved election victory, but after that she will need to stop pretending that the country is united, and unite it. Otherwise she may find that a more credible opposition comes from the pro-EU MPs in her own party.

Election more than just Brexit

Alison Leonard, by email

This election is about more than the Brexit debate. It’s about so many other things.

Our health: How the NHS is struggling to give us the treatment we need. Our children’s education: The funding gap between what schools need and what they actually get. The housing crisis: So many people can’t find somewhere to live that they can afford.

The environment: How many people are suffering from air pollution, how we can keep up with our energy needs without spoiling the planet. Jobs: Lots of people are working in jobs that won’t pay their everyday bills. Let’s not have a one-issue election. Let’s ask the politicians how they’re going to answer all these questions about our everyday lives.

Think of NHS when you vote

David Honeybell, by email

So now we come to the big one, the General Election, where the people decide which political party, or which party leader they trust the most.

Which one is telling the truth? Maybe the local candidates will come more into the reckoning. But let’s put the personalities to one side for a moment, and consider what issues we as individuals feel strongly about.

For me the top priority is the future of our NHS. Do we want to have a health service that is the envy of the world, as it still was only seven years ago, funded by public money, and treating us all, with the same care and dedication?

Or do we want a health service funded by private money from insurance companies, who put profit for investors as top priority and the patients the least important.

I can’t tell anyone who to vote for as that’s up to each of us to decide. But please think about our NHS when putting that X on the ballot paper.