YEP Letters: May 26

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Check out today’s YEP letters.

Uncomfortable issues from schools fiasco

Victoria Jaquiss, Leeds

This debacle over the allocation of school places to the Khalsa Science Academy throws up a number of uncomfortable issues.

It is a free school/academy. As such it doesn’t need to conform to national or even local educational standards, such as employing qualified teachers or providing healthy meals. Despite Gove and Cameron defending this freedom, no one else in the country is buying this as a good thing.

It is a Sikh school. Are the parents religious? Sikh even? Well, for me this begs the other question of why are Christian schools bursting with Muslim children? And one answer is that church schools only survive because they include children from other faiths. Is this a good thing?

Fir Tree School in Moortown was one of those schools which the late and unlamented Education Leeds took an axe to. Unlike the much missed Royal Park, this building is still standing and long since should have refurbished as an authority school, as this crisis clearly shows we in Leeds need.

Instead, the Government ordered Leeds Council to give a publicly owned asset 
to a private company. Unbelievably Cameron’s take on this was “free schools don’t take money away from other schools – they’re separately funded”.

Dave, your Government decreed in 2011 that any and all new schools had to be free schools or academies, 
and that local authorities were not allowed to open new schools, even in a town where a private company has willfully and wrongly destroyed so many. This has nothing to do with parental choice.

By its name this new school seems to be a science specialist institution. At primary age! Research clearly show the value of the arts in education. This title does not bode well for them.

This local school isn’t actually yet in Moortown, but presently housed in Chapeltown, not, I think “local” at all!

Britain is not a meritocracy

Dave MacFadyen, Cross Gates

I HAVE never heard anyone, other than those from the privileged elite, suggest that supporters of social justice have “the politics of envy”.

Britain is not a democratic meritocracy. We are often shown an individual who allegedly “started from nowt” and has achieved some social mobility.

They are generally the exception that proves the rule but are held up as an example of the myth that anyone can achieve great things if only they would work hard.

This is as ludicrous as holding up a lottery jackpot winner and claiming it proves that everyone can be a jackpot winner if only they would work hard. It implies that those of us who don’t win the jackpot are lazy and just don’t try hard enough.

The lottery analogy is very apt in this context. Most of the individuals who accuse others of having “the politics of envy” won the lottery on the day they were born, if not before.

On the other hand, most of the underprivileged can trace their lack of opportunity back many generations. The truth is that poor people can’t afford to achieve success, or “get on”, as David Cameron likes to say.

His class think it is enough to offer a leg up to a few “gifted poor”. They sell this to us as evidence that we have a meritocracy. It is patently nonsense.

We were told before the election that under the Conservatives more people are going to universary than ever before. I don’t believe this. The student numbers are swollen by fee-paying foreigners. There are far too many who can’t afford higher education, whether “gifted poor” or not.

If anyone suggests that this is wrong they are said to have the “politics of envy”.

In reality it is a great waste of talent. Our country is run by a privileged elite, many of whom are worse than useless.

Until we have a classless society we will have class-based politics. It ain’t rocket science.

Another way to waste taxes

Martin Phillips, Cookridge

It seems Leeds City Council have found yet another way of wasting council taxes.

In order to ensure council flats on this estate conform with “equality” legislation, they are going to be re-wired to include lights switches in a lower position for the use of wheelchair users.

All very well but for the fact that the wheelchair user must somehow negotiate 28 stairs just to get to the top floor flat!

Surely if the council have any sense at all they will put a wheelchair user in a ground floor flat.

The re-wiring plans also include providing the tenant with a ‘generous’ grant to repair/replace the decor after the works.

I pointed out to the council officer that they could re-wire top floor flats in such a way as to avoid the cost of re-decoration – i.e. as the wires are in the loft, the new wires could be pulled through by attaching them to the old ones rather than ripping them out of the wall and having to re-plaster and re-decorate at the taxpayers’ expense.

Saddened by Corfu tragedy

Jack Banner, Meanwood

I, and I suspect very many more, will have been saddened by the coroner’s report into the deaths of the two youngsters from Wakefield in Corfu.

We are grandparents to four little treasures and cannot imagine the torture that the families have suffered .

If a Greek hotelier (or any other) tells you that a property is safe, you must surely carry out your own inspections to establish the truth.

Holidaymakers in Yorkshire and the rest of the UK should vote with their bookings and hold Thomas Cook responsible.

The only way this company will ever learn is when it hits them in the pocket.

College closure must be fought

Stephen Clark, Leeds

I AM shocked to hear of the plans to close the Joseph Priestley College site in Morley (YEP, May 11).

This has been brought about by Government cuts to adult and teenage training budgets.

If we are to be an enterprise country it is the kind of training that this college provides to the local population which is required. I call on the new Tory MP in Morley to act immediately to get this sorted and ensure that this college in her constituency does not close.